MERLOT Voices

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On today's call we came up with the following for the general category of the Taskforce
English Language and Literature

Does anyone have any further comments to that?
Are you satisfied with that for our overall group?
Our future Editorial Board will be "English Language and Literature Editorial Board" (but we'll call you English for short!)
Please discuss

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I entered today’s call a little discombobulated, having just rushed in from my 1:00 class. Now that I have had time to think a little more about it, I’m not entirely comfortable with the English Language and Literature umbrella term.

If anything, I do think English should be the umbrella term. The term English is even more general than English Language and Literature and may afford us the opportunity to include other subcategories in our taxonomy (like journalism, for example), which we might not be able to include under the umbrella of English Language and Literature. Language topics, according to NCTE, include esol/esl/ell, grammar/usage, history of English, language variation, linguistics, and stylistics. Literature categories include literature, folklore/storytelling, global literatures, literary genres, literary periods, literary study, literary theory, literatures in English, literatures of the Americas, multicultural literatures, nonfiction, poetry, whole language, and young adult literature. So if we go with English Language and Literature as our umbrella term, to me that leaves out journalism, media studies, and composition. Most of us who teach English do so in the English Department and we English teachers expect to find grammar, composition, rhetoric, literature, ESL, and developmental English in that English department. So the term “English” is also one, besides being pretty general, that is pretty familiar to those who will be searching the site for materials for their English classes.

Any thoughts on this?
I certainly did not think of journalism and media studies as being part of our bailiwick. They have always been lodged in separate departments in my experiences as both student and instructor. Which does not mean they should be exclueded, just that I've never thought of them as part of my discipline.

Further, I have always considered that language arts included composition. I'm not averse to using only English, but English Language and Literature would certainly get me to my main interests which are ESL and composition.
Actually, World Languages has quite a collection of ESL materials,(see: http://www.merlot.org/merlot/materials.htm?category=2451&&;)
282 of them and they have even subdivided ESL into the following categories: Business ESL (5), Culture (5), Language (143), Teacher Resources (75), and culture (34)

We probably don't need to worry about the ESL category as it is already covered.
Cathy,
No wonder I've had trouble finding materials on MERLOT! I would never think to look for ESL under World Languages. WL suggests all the languages other than English to me. This clearly is an important job we need to be doing here.

I'm beginning to feel a bit like Marian, the Librarian, who I wanted to be as a school kid. Interesting turn of events.
I hear you about journalism and media studies. I think at some colleges, if courses in these areas are not offered with the prefix ENG, they are at least cross-referenced that way.

I agree that language arts includes composition, but our term is English Language, which has a different feel to me. Of course language arts sounds kind of middle-school-ish, which might turn off higher ed people searching the MERLOT site.

I had never really thought so deeply about the taxonomy of our discipline; that's why I perused the NCTE site to see how they organize all the subcategories under the term "English."
Why don't you share whay you found at NCTE, Kim?
These are some of the subcategories in NCTE, illustrating one possible approach to organizing our material.

Diversity
Matters relating to: people of color, cultural studies, feminist studies, gender studies, holocaust studies, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered, popular culture, and urban education.

Language
Matters relating to: esol/esl/ell, grammar/usage, history of english, language variation, linguistics, and stylistics.

Literacy
Matters relating to: adult literacy, critical literacy, early literacy, family literacy, literacy across the curriculum, reading-writing connection, and whole language.

Literature
Matters relating to: children's literature, folklore/storytelling, global literatures, literary genres, literary periods, literary study, literary theory, literatures in english, literatures of the americas, multicultural literatures, nonfiction, poetry, whole language, and young adult literature.

Media Studies/Journalism
Matters relating to: audio, film, periodicals, theory, visual literacy, and video/television.

Reading
Matters relating to: books lists, content area reading, fluency, phonics, read-aloud, reading comprehension, reading process, reading programs, reading strategies, reading/writing connection, struggling readers, and theory.

Research
Matters relating to: classroom, reading, teacher as researcher, teaching of english, and writing.

Technology
Matters relating to: computers/writing, desktop publishing, distance education/learning, online writing, and web page design/critique.

Writing
Matters relating to: advanced placement courses, basic/developmental writing, creative writing, journals, portfolios, reading/writing connection, responding to student writing, response logs, technical/professional writing, writing across the curriculum, writing centers, writing process, writing programs, and writing theory.
Andrea, cross-referencing was passing through my mind, too, as I was writing my comment earlier about being surprised at how much ESL was lurking in World Languages. We may want to take a look at the Library of Congress Subject Index, since that seems to be the standard that we in higher eduction are all used to.

But wait! Do we need to worry about K-12 teachers and librarians as well? I am thinking out loud here and need to leave it there for now--office hour calls.
I feel as if English Language and Literature is a fine umbrella heading for many of the subcategories we've been discussing. I have to laugh just a little: never ask a roomful of English teachers (even a virtual one) to agree on taxonomy! I think we're remarkably in agreement on this one.

The subheadings may be more challenging, but even for K-12, I think the ELL heading works.

In the olden days, journalism and speech communication were often dumped in with English, but I think they have become such clear disciplines that they may need, perhaps, their own umbrella headings. I don't know about others, but at all of the institutions I've worked in, journalism and speech communication were different departments rather far removed (literally and figuratively) from English studies.
You are all the content experts, but I agree with your comments about journalism and speech communication. In fact, a professional organization in speech communication has approached us about forming a task force. I can imagine that journalism may also be appropriate for a separate task force. I'll leave that all up to you, though.
Since the "About Us" page says "MERLOT is a leading edge, user-centered, searchable collection of peer reviewed and selected higher education, online learning materials" (emphasis added) I'm assuming that we don't need to worry too much about K-12 teachers, though they may actually find MERLOT useful.

Cross-referencing seems like a good idea to me, particularly for ESL. Actually, my department includes speech communication, drama, foreign language, and ESL in addition to English, but we don't think of ourselves as representing a single discipline.

The idea of not including drama bothers me, though. Stagecraft isn't our area, of course, but surely we don't want to create a definition of "English" (or "English Language and Literature," which I like) that doesn't include Shakespeare!

Yet another question--what about English education? English departments at schools and colleges all over the country are responsible for preparing English majors who want to teach English, and often we also cooperate with departments of education in preparing middle grades and elementary-ed majors to teach language arts.
Good questions, Becky. Our emphasis is on Higher Education and those are the materials we review. However, many of our institutional partners also have K-12 initiatives and many high school teachers add materials. We "peer review" the higher ed materials. We're still trying to figure out how to handle those at the primary/secondary level. We only need to worry about post secondary right now.

As I mentioned on our call, we do have a Theater group that probably should handle drama. However, we could cross-reference some items.

We have a Teacher Education Editorial Board that reviews materials that prepare teachers for teaching a variety of disciplines. In fact, they have 53 materials in the Teaching English area: http://www.merlot.org/merlot/materials.htm?category=2287&&&;

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