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The world is constantly changing, and we live in a rather explosive world that constantly presents new challenges not  only in terms of the developing knowledge and controversial issues we need to address in our teaching but also in terms of navigating the dynamics of our classrooms, institutions, and larger communities.  We can all use a little help in this regard and benefit from putting our heads together with others.

Northeastern Illinois University is once again offering a series of exciting interdisciplinary seminars to feed the intellectual hunger of community college and high school teachers of all disciplines who seek professional development  and a nourishing space to explore the challenges our evolving and volatile world present for us as teachers.

Taught by NEIU faculty, these seminars are designed for teachers who want to explore new avenues in literary and cultural studies as well as social and historical studies and who want to imagine new  approaches to traditional literatures, social, historical, and cultural issues, and the language issues students and teachers face in the writing classroom. The seminars are designed to spur intellectual growth by offering ways to re-invigorate classrooms in ways relevant to our contemporary world by creating content that engages students in the meaningfulness of literary, historical, and cultural studies.

And, these three-hour, non-credit seminars earn teachers three CPDU credits. Our seminars are conveniently held on Friday mornings at the University’s main campus seminar space in the Center for Teaching and Learning.

We hope to help teachers find new ways to teach students in specific disciplines, to navigate the demands of the new Common Core, and to help teach the basics of writing and communication, which is always a struggle.  Additionally, we offer seminars to help teachers think about effective assessment and other nitty-gritty dimensions of our jobs.

Seminars are held on Friday mornings on Northeastern Illinois University’s main campus on Chicago’s northwest side,. Seminars earn teachers (3) CPDU credits. Online Registration is available at  or on the English Department website under Interdisciplinary University Seminars for Teachers.  For more information, please contact Toni Scott, Coordinator, directly at

Tim Libretti,
English Department Chair

Registration and Tuition

For more information, including registration information, please contact Toni Scotti, English Department, at (773) 442-5829 or

Individual Tuition

$110.00 per seminar

Group Tuition

(For departments, schools, or Districts)  If you would like to register for a total of five or more seats for various seminars you will still receive the discounted price.
$500.00 for five seats; $900.00 for 10 seats; $1500 for 20 seats.

Register Now

2017-2018 Seminar Offerings

Friday, October 20, 2017

Social Class in the Classroom: Teaching Class in U.S. politics, literature, and culture

In his book Working-Class Majority: America’s Best Kept Secret, Michael Zweig argues that, despite the language we use to talk about class and identity and despite our avoidance as a culture of class issues,  most Americans are in fact part of the working class.   This seminar will explore the social narratives at work in our political discourse and in our literary history which might blind us to  the dynamics of class or else make them visible to us. In either case, the presence of class in our literary, political, and social discourses will be unearthed as we explore ways to help students grapple with often unacknowledged dimensions of their own experience and the larger American experience and also to reflect on new ways of writing and valuing the stories they themselves and others tell.

Taught by Professor Tim Libretti

Friday, October 27, 2017

Contemporary Politics and Contemporary Poetry: Teaching the Scandal

 In a kind of conjunction with recent emerging and fully emerged “woke”-ness in mainstream culture, the literary world has been the scene of several scandals, some plainly understood in terms of injustice and wrongdoing, and some more ambiguous, nuanced. This seminar offers a gossipy survey of some scandals of note (the case of fictional poet Araki Yasusada, Kenneth Goldstein’s use of Michael Brown’s autopsy report, allegations against Rupi Kaur of plagiarism/re-appropriation, rape allegations against alt-lit figure Tao Lin) and considers how teaching the literary event of the scandal (the texts, the contextual texts around it, the internet conversations and eruptions, personal response) can allow teachers to sharpen their emphasis on literature as a living thing, very much conjoined to the larger social and political conversation of our lives.

Taught by  Olivia Cronk, Poet and Writing Instructor

Friday, November 3, 2017

Promoting Engaged Reading in Spanish: Making the Text More Accessible

Teaching literature to second language learners can be an unpleasant experience for both the instructor and the student when one or both is not a willing participant. Many find literature to be a difficult, if not scary, assignment, and give up before they begin. Literary text does present its challenges for the language learner due to its linguistic complexity, a lack of background knowledge, and, a lack of enthusiasm for the text itself. In this workshop we will transform 5 different literary works written in Spanish into accessible texts that are interesting, engaging and productive activities for the varying proficiency levels of the student. The techniques demonstrated with these sample texts are applicable to any (non)literary text.

Taught by  Professor Denise Cloonan Cortez de Andersen

Friday, November 10, 2017

Gender Identity in the Classroom

Gender identity has gone from being a  taboo subject to being a focus of national headlines.  Much of the attention to gender identity is an embattled attempt to regulate personal identity: how can tension be resolved when an individual’s identity clashes with societal norms; who is endangered by an atypical gender identity and in what ways; what guidance, recommendations, and laws are appropriate for persons whose identity “shifts”; how do transgender identities relate to truth-telling, deception, and mental health; and why are transgender people at a far higher risk for suicide and death by murder than people whose gender identity meets expectations? This seminar will use readings, personal stories, film clips, group activities, and case scenarios to better understand how gender identity oppression operates personally, culturally, and institutionally, and to explore how this oppression impacts public education in general and our own classrooms.  

Taught by Professors Vicki Byard and Kris Over

Friday, November 17, 2017

Immigrant Voices, Immigration Policies: The Racial Politics, Economics, and Literature of Immigration in America

Saying that immigration has become a boiling controversy in contemporary American politics and society is perhaps an understatement. As a response to contemporary controversies, this seminar will explore immigrant voices throughout U.S. literary history as well as key moments in the history of political and social attitudes towards immigrants. With an eye toward teaching these issues in the social studies and English classrooms, we will explore how these literary voices engage or provide insights and challenges to the political, economic, as well as ethical issues involved in the national debate.

Taught by Professor Tim Libretti

Friday, December 1, 2017

Teaching Graphic Novels, Teaching Social Issues

This seminar will introduce high school teachers to a range of graphic novels that will help open the English classroom to important and pressing social issues.  In particular, we will focus on how graphic novels can be used in a classroom setting to catalyze new discussions on the intersectionality of class, gender, sexuality, race, and health.  Moreover, this seminar will introduce teachers to the keywords and critical vocabulary necessary to the study of graphic novels.

Taught by Professor  Ryan Poll

Friday, January 26, 2018

Teaching LGBTQ Literature

If the job of English teachers is to help students understand the "human condition" through narrative, poetry, and non-fiction and to help students write about their own worlds in light of the stories of others, then we have never lived in as exciting a time as the present--but that excitement comes with complications. This workshop will explore the possibilities and challenges of teaching LGBTQ literature in the secondary ed classroom and will consider the history of this work as well as some of the cultural, artistic, and political debates that accompany it. No topic is out of bounds, and we will discuss specific texts, the problem of teaching "sexuality," thoughts on  dealing with administrators, parents, and other concerned parties, and more.

Taught by Professor Tim Barnett

Friday, Feb. 9, 2018

Global Ecologies: U.S. Politics and Literature in the Age of Environmentalism

This interdisciplinary seminar explores why studying the environment is one of the most urgent intellectual tasks and responsibilities of all disciplines, including English and Composition. This seminar helps teachers develop strategies to bring the environment into the classroom by exploring how U.S. literature and culture is central to developing a critical environmental imagination. As we will discuss through select literary, cultural, and compositional examples, environmentalism is central to a range of concerns, including ecological racism, environmental justice, and the uneven geographies of globalization.

Taught by Professor Ryan Poll

Friday, March 2, 2018

Using Contemporary Experimental Poetry in the Writing Classroom, Creative and Otherwise

All writing is creative, right?  This seminar is geared toward helping teachers develop creative approaches to the instruction of writing of all kinds through the study of poetry in ways that promise to inspire students to bring their creative energies and investments to all the writing you are asking them to do.  Examine works of contemporary poets to
understand their techniques and employ those isolated
techniques as constraints for generating texts (poetry, prose, or hybrid). This process suggests the links between reading and writing, and between finished pieces of literature and works-in-progress. Participants will get fuel for their own lesson planning and actively work with the catalog of
constraints we generate on-the-spot (just as students can do).

Taught by Olivia Cronk, MFA, Poet and Writing Instructor

Friday, March 9, 2018

Unsettling Race and Culture in Teaching the Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance can hardly be understood as a unified cultural movement; rather it is best characterized as a moment contested in both aesthetic and political terms, with various factions defining race and culture quite differently and imagining the road to racial (and class) liberation in radically divergent ways.  In this seminar, relevant to teachers of social studies and literature, we will explore the Harlem Renaissance’s divided politics of race, class, gender, and sexuality by considering shorter works and poetry by such writers as Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Zora Neale Hurston, George Schuyler, Alain Locke, and others.

Taught by Professor Tim Libretti   

Friday, April 13, 2018

Globalizing American Studies

 American Studies developed originally within the context of American exceptionalism.  In this seminar we will talk about ways of “globalizing” American Studies by re-visiting canonical texts such as The Great Gatsby, and thinking about what it means to read that work as registering a global context and also by considering ways of introducing new texts that  force the issue in terms of demanding a complex theorizing of the national and international dimensions of American Studies. We will think together about teaching key moments and texts in U.S. history and culture—slavery and the slave narrative, the Great Depression and its literature, the Harlem Renaissance, and more—from a global perspective.

Taught by Professors Ryan Poll and Tim Libretti              

Friday, April 20, 2018

Harnessing Students’ Language Expertise to Win at Academic English: Part I

Taught by a former CPS teacher, this seminar provides teachers with the tools to recognize students’ linguistic funds of knowledge so students may use their language expertise to succeed in academic English.  Teachers will learn to recognize some common patterns of African American English and Spanish-influenced English, and how these patterns may show up in student reading, writing, and speech.  By understanding these patterns, teachers and students can work together to make optimal language choices for various contexts. Teachers will leave the seminar with a toolkit for helping students capitalize on their language expertise and transition in and out of academic English.  Methods include linguistic inquiry, contrastive analysis, editing checklists, and journaling strategies.

Taught by Jill Hallett, Ph.D., Linguistics


Contact Us at the English Department

T (773) 442-5810

Contact Us at the English Department

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