Nancy Hoffman

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1977


As a white woman teaching literature written by black women for some years now, my experience has begun to make sense, to add up to some principles and some observations which may be useful to other teachers. I teach older, urban students who are or will become human service workers. We do little by way of formal literary criticism; we read literature to learn about American values, about problems of race and class, to understand the choices of characters, and to reflect on our own lives. Particularly because students work in intercultural settings, we use the classroom to approximate as much as it can the diversity students encounter on their jobs. Nearly sixty percent of our students are women, and I teach black novels and poetry by women because that is where you find portraits of strong, independent women; that is also where you find good literature unencumbered by the burden of prior critical judgment. I teach literature by whites in my courses as well. I myself am in the midst of a research project on an aspect of the history of relationships between black and white women, so I learn from my teaching.



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