Teachin' Books

Teachin' Books

A podcast all about the ways people teach, learn, and work with literature -- aaaand all sorts of other texts, like video games, theatrical performances, Dungeons and Dragons, and more! Host Jessica McDonald talks about how she teaches with literature and interviews folks from traditional and non-traditional educational contexts to find out what they're doing these days with literary and cultural texts.


March 15, 2022 28 min

Today's episode involves our first ever comic on Teachin' Books! I'm excited to share with you  how I teach Kate Beaton's webcomic Ducks, which you should definitely read right now, if you haven't already.

Topics of the episode include: confronting environmental and social justice through literature, i.e. through visual and textual analysis; teaching within and around public narratives about Fort McMurray; readin...

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On today's episode, I'm chattin' with the fabulous Namrata Mitra, who is an Associate Professor at Iona College in the Department of English. Her research areas are feminist philosophy, queer theory, and postcolonial studies. 

We talk about Namrata's Postcolonial Literatures courses, and we discuss a wide range of teaching-related topics, such as: how students' material conditions shape their learning, and in tur...

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February 1, 2022 28 min

Wow, things have chaaaanged and are still a-changin'! Teachin' and learnin' things, that is. 

On this first solo episode of 2022, I talk about how I've come face-to-face, in the last few weeks of full-time teaching, with how teaching and learning has changed in the year and a half+ that I was away from teaching for my full-time postdoctoral fellowship. 

Topics include: uncertainty and flexibility; questioning atte...

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In this first episode of 2022 (!!!),  I'm delighted to be joined by Brent Ryan Bellamy, Moritz Ingwersen, and Rachel Webb Jekanowski, co-instructors of a course on "North American Petrocultures," taught collaboratively and online through TU Dresden in Germany. 

The core of this episode: How do you talk about oil in a Humanities classroom? What can studying arts and literature teach us about oil, energy, and environmental...

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This year's Holiday Special episode (whoop whoooop!) is an audio essay I produced for the Future Horizons summer project series. The series was organized by the fabulous Sarah Roger and Paul Barrett, and my essay was produced with generous support and feedback from Myra Bloom.

The audio essay is "Feeling My Way through Walmart," and it spans my experiences from growing up in a Walmart, to my time working in retail, navig...

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I'm so pleased to share today's interview with you, featuring Karrie Auger and Nancy Van Styvendale, all about the Inspired Minds: All Nations Creative Writing Program, which is facilitated in prisons in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

In addition to talking about how they've approached Gregory Scofield's poem "Heart Food" in Inspired Minds classes, Karrie and Nancy get into: relationship as the core of Inspired Mi...

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Today's episode is all about the ways we teach, learn, and work with... Instagraaaaaaaaam!

I'm so excited to share with you this conversation I had with Shana MacDonald, who is an Associate Professor in Communication Arts at the University of Waterloo and the current President of the Film Studies Association of Canada.

On today's episode, Shana talks about her funded, collaborative, interdisciplinary research-creation pr...

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If you enjoy thinking, learning, and hearing about the nuts and bolts of classroom practice, this one's for you!

In today's episode, I talk about three methods / exercises / approaches I've used to teach Emily Dickinson's poem "A narrow Fellow in the Grass." And I get downright detailed, y'all: close-reading, concept-mapping, riddle poems, assembling textual evidence, and practicing poem annotation. And:...

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Listen in to part TWO of my conversation with expert TAs and all-around excellent humans Megan Solberg and Ian Moy, Ph.D. candidates in English at the University of Saskatchewan who have lots of wisdom to share about navigating the unique context of team-teaching environments. 

In this second and final part of our conversation, we cover: student-TA dynamics, including setting boundaries and handling challenging situations; dealing w...

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Teachin' Books is back for Season Twoooooo, and I'm excited, y'all! ...especially because this first episode is part of a special two-part series to kick off Season Two, and it features a couple of my dearest friends, Megan Solberg and Ian Moy, Ph.D. candidates at the University of Saskatchewan who have a combined variety of experiences as Teaching Assistants. 

In Part One of this two-parter on Teaching Assistantships, w...

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June 22, 2021 35 min

Today I'm talkin' FAILURE.

With contributions from friends, colleagues, listeners who shared their stories and thoughts about failure, as well as my own experiences and ideas, this episode gets into: the "meta" experience of failing to read enough about failure to do an episode on it; learning in theory versus learning through practice; sharing failures with students as "parting gifts," as icebreakers, as a ...

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On today's solo episode of Teachin' Books, I'm talking about the work of acclaimed poet Louise Bernice Halfe, whose Cree name is Sky Dancer.

In particular, I'm talking about an excerpt from Blue Marrow and a short poem called "Body Politics" from Bear Bones & Feathers. For the former: I get into the topic of prairie poetry, prairie literature, and prairie identity, complicated as these formations are, an...

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We're back to teachin' Shakespeeeeeare today! This episode features an interview with my lovely friend and brilliant human Dr. Lucy Hinnie! Lucy is currently Wikimedian-in-Residence at the British Library, and is completing her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Saskatchewan. 

In the course of our convo about the second-year Shakespeare: Comedy and History class that Lucy taught in 2020, we get into: how to demysti...

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Teachin' Books is back with an exciting interview with Khodi Dill, who is author of the picture book Welcome to the Cypher (available for pre-order now!) and a Bahamian-Canadian writer, spoken word artist, and anti-racist educator living and working on Treaty 6 territory in Saskatoon. Check it out, y'all! :)

Khodi and I chat about spoken word poetry (& its role in education and social justice); his poem "Grey" a...

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April 13, 2021 29 min

How do you wrap up the term in a good way? What do you do in the final days of class, whether remote or in-person? What atmosphere do you try to create? 

This episode includes thoughts in response to those questions, featuring fantastic tips by Ashley Gagnon-Shaw, Jocelyne Vogt, and Catherine Nygren, as well as some ideas of my own. :) Hope you enjoy!

  • Listen to Jocelyne's episode of Teachin' Books, on Harold Cardinal's &#...
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    Heeey y'all! On today's episode of Teachin' Books, we're talking about something a bit different: research, writing, and publishing as forms of teaching and learning. 

    The episode features part of the book launch for The Next Instalment:  Serials, Sequels, and Adaptations of Nellie L. McClung, L.M. Montgomery, and Mazo de la Roche, written by Dr. Wendy Roy, Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Saskat...

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    March 23, 2021 22 min

    Today's episode is a bit of a catch-up / breather: I'm answering a few listener questions and emails and, along the way, returning to some of the podcast's ongoing topics of interest.

    Topics like... statue activism, book clubs (I ask: why do some last and some don't?), recording the podcast, teaching challenging texts, and the often energizing circumstance of teaching students who think English is a whole bunch of bu...

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    It's heeeeeere! I'm so excited to share this Teachin' Books episode on Dungeons and Dragons, featuring Dr. Jordan Bolay, who is an instructor of English at Pearson College UWC.

    Even if you're not a DnD player, I think you'll like our chat! We get into: DnD as an experiential learning practice, and as a text to be studied in literature classes (plus, as a language-learning tool); games and play in the classroom; a...

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    On today's episode, I'm talking about the public poetry installations of London-based poet and artist Robert Montgomery. 

    I use Montgomery's work in my first-year undergrad poetry class to consider important dimensions of and questions brought up by public poetry, such as: how these poems blur the line between "art" and "the real world"; how materiality and physical position shapes meaning; where poetry b...

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    Heeeeey y'all! We're back to talkin' about book clubs today as Ph.D. candidate Rebekah Ludolph shares her experience reading Hiromi Goto's novel The Kappa Child (2001) in a book club that encourages the goal of reading to learn. At the same time, Rebekah complicates the idea of reading for "social change" and draws from her doctoral research to discuss the nuances, limitations, and possibilities in the act o...

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