Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William E. Doll, Jr


While the field of academic literary studies continues to engage in contested debate over defining and revising its curricula (Graff, 1987), teachers remain situated at the sometimes contradictory and often isolated intersections of theory and practice. Decisions made about writing in literature classes, selecting texts for course syllabi, and pedagogical style are most often negotiated at the level of the individual teacher, who may or may not be responding to an increasing incidence of departmental restructuring, recommendations, prohibitions, or political pressures. Though there is no scarcity of disagreements and accusations about what revisionary approaches 'mean', (Fieldnotes, Spring 1992), there is a dearth of well-considered research about what particular revisions may mean at the university level for individual teachers and students, and particular classroom communities. In this study I have explored the teaching style of a professor in a research university English department. Addressing the work of William Pinar (1975, 1976, 1988), Jo Anne Pagano (1990), Gerald Graff (1987), Wilson Harris (1989), William Doll (in press), and Newman, Griffin, and Cole (1989), in particular, the study entertains a conversation between curriculum theorizing and ethnographic methods, drawing upon my own educational experiences of literary studies as a frame of reference. In this conversation I have addressed issues related to what Wilson Harris calls a "literate imagination" (Harris, 1989), introducing that notion into a consideration of where reforms might lead us in an emerging post-modern age.