Colloquium March 27 Proposes New Strategies for Teaching Canadian Fiction

Professor Joy Gugeler

March 18, 2015 - 2:30pm

Vancouver Island University (VIU) professor Joy Gugeler will present a lecture she hopes will reimagine Canadian literature for the classroom in her Arts & Humanities Colloquium presentation on Friday, March 27 in the Malaspina Theatre, beginning at 10 am.

In her presentation titled“Firing the Canon and Hiring the Reader: How to Win the Classroom War on CanLit,” Gugeler proposes that a student-centred approach, employing modern leisure reading strategies and media in the classroom, could radically expand opportunities for teachers by encouraging them to embrace the wealth of published writing and learning opportunities on and offline.

The approaches could include collective reading and writing projects, virtual author visits, book camps, teen publications, radio and television communal reading campaigns, student-juried contests, digitally shared lesson plans, cyber-seminars, mobile and digital libraries with “sample” podcasts, trailers and much more.

"To inspire generations of students to read, write, buy, publish and teach CanLit for a lifetime," says Gugeler, who teaches in the Departments of Media Studies and Creative Writing, "we must present them with a wealth of Canadian novels and story collections written by authors from as varied backgrounds as their own. They need to see their cultural, linguistic, gender, geographical, sexual and social identities reflected, and they need help imagining the backgrounds and identities of others.”

Gugeler argues that these approaches give students permission to interpret their lives through their chosen texts and a variety of media and learning styles, and represents a sea change in how literature could be taught. "If we empower students to claim authority previously only accorded the author, text and instructor, authority they have when reading texts of their own choosing at home, students will seek out those titles personally meaningful and imaginatively relevant, Canadian titles chief among them."

Gugeler is currently completing a doctoral thesis in Communications at Simon Fraser University, from which her talk is drawn. She worked for 20 years as an acquiring editor of fiction for four national presses, was on the editorial boards of three literary magazines, and editor-in-chief of three online magazines and citizen journalism news sites. She publishes VIU’s Portal literary magazine with a class of 15 students and has hosted, interviewed and reviewed CanLit for newspapers and radio.

The free Colloquium presentation of March 27 will be of special interest to teachers, future teachers, readers, writers, and those concerned about the state of Canadian culture.


For more information:

Media Contact

Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P:250.740.6443  C: 250.618.1535 E:

Tags: Teaching and Learning

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