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Introducing Indigenous Frameworks:
Teaching Contemporary Indigenous Literature as non-Indigenous Teachers

9:00 a.m.-noon
Friday, Oct. 6, 2023
Kristen Over, English Department

Following the State of Illinois’s mandate to include Native American history in Illinois public schools, we might also anticipate increased efforts to include more contemporary Indigenous literature in high school curricula. Very few students, though, will learn this material directly from Indigenous teachers. According to Illinois Report Card (2021-2022), Native American students make up .3% of the state’s 1.9 million students, and .2% of the state’s nearly 130,000 schoolteachers.

This reality emphasizes the responsibility of non-Indigenous teachers to do this work justly. How, for instance, can we teach Natalie Diaz’s poetry — or Layli Long Soldier’s poetry, or Louise Erdrich’s novels, or Tommy Orange’s "There, There" — as a confrontation with settler society? How can we teach students to take account of the profound differences between Diaz’s land-based knowledge and broad kinship and our own inherited Euro-Western ways of thinking about the world? How can we name and sit in discomfort with these differences, as Diaz directs us to? And what sorts of transformation might take place if we allow Indigenous literary texts to help us interrogate the concepts and practices of our current settler society?

This seminar will approach these questions by drawing on the work of First Nations and Indigenous American thinkers and outlining some models for thinking about Indigenous culture. It will also rely on our collective willingness to confront the ongoing legacies of the history our state has now mandated.

teaching poetry: A Smörgåsbord of Writing Prompts

9:00 a.m.-noon
Friday, Oct. 13, 2023
Larry Dean, English Department

Merriam-Webster defines “smörgåsbord” as “a luncheon or supper buffet offering a variety of foods and dishes (such as hors d’oeuvres, hot and cold meats, smoked and pickled fish, cheeses, salads and relishes),” but also “an often large heterogeneous mixture.” If you are looking for some ready made opportunities with which to engage students in creative writing, this seminar is your (meal) ticket.

We will explore a variety of aleatoric prompts, incorporating everyday objects such as newspapers, magazines, handbills, menus, preexisting texts, found objects, chance encounters, and more into the writing process. We’ll also delve into structural writing constraints such as those employed by members of OuLiPo, acronym for Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (Workshop for Potential Literature), a group of writers and mathematicians formed in France in 1960 by poet Raymond Queneau and mathematician François Le Lionnais” (Poetry Foundation). Creating a story, poem or essay doesn’t have to require excessive planning or complicated rules, but rather, the ability to spark creativity on the spot by embracing spontaneity.

Reading SCOTUS, Defining America: Teaching Supreme Court Decisions in the Literature, Social Studies, and Composition Classroom

9:00 a.m.-noon
Friday, Oct. 27, 2023
Timothy Libretti, English Department

Do you want your students to care about and understand the stakes of how we define words? About the power and importance of writing? About how understand U.S. history? How we define U.S. culture? How we define what a person is? Do you want them to be able to take apart other’s arguments and construct their own in compelling ways? This seminar proposes to bring into the classroom some writings that have proven to be quite immediately consequential for the lives of many Americans.

Many receive reports on the decisions of the Supreme Court; far fewer actually read the full decisions, the arguments, or the dissents. In actually reading the decisions in key recent cases such as Shelby v. Holder (2013), Janus v. AFSCME (2018), Bostock v. Clayton County (2020), and Dobbs v. Jackson (2022), one realizes the stakes involved in the assumptions Supreme Court Justices make, for example, about the realities of racism in the U.S. or about women’s experiences. One sees the stakes of how “sex” is defined — and the power in being in a position to define it — or how “American customs and traditions” are defined in ways that exclude the cultures of many Americans. Above all, reading these decisions exposes weak argumentation and provide opportunities to engage in close reading that immediately matters, helping them see the importance of the skills they are learning in the literature, composition, and social studies classroom. The analytical tools we already teach in our classrooms can come alive in different way, and students can see the force of them, when reading these strange yet incredibly consequential texts. In this seminar, we will discuss how to use these texts in our classrooms to emphasize the importance of the knowledge and skills they are learning.

youth Mental Health First Aid

9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (with 30-minute lunch break)
Friday, Nov. 3, 2023
Jennifer Banas, Health Sciences

Registration for this seminar is now closed.

Youth Mental Health First Aid (Y-MHFA) is designed to teach parents, caregivers, teachers, school staff, coaches and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) experiencing a mental health or addiction challenge or crisis. The Y-MHFA course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a five-step action plan to help young people experiencing a mental health emergency or non-crisis situation. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders. New additions to the curriculum include content on trauma, the impact of social media and bullying, and self-care. As an educator, you will become more in tune with your students' well-being and your own!


  • 2 hours of online pre-work (self-assessment, videos and quiz) on your own before the training
  • 4.5 hours of face-to-face, instructor-led training (at Northeastern)
  • 30-60 minutes of evaluation and exam on your own after the training

Serious Clowning

9:00 a.m.-noon
Friday, Nov. 10, 2023
Brad Greenburg, English Department

Shakespeare created two kinds of comic characters: the clown and the fool. In this seminar we will explore the way his drama uses these comic creations for serious purposes. From "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to "Twelfth Night," from "Henry IV,? Parts 1 and 2 to "Hamlet," humor and its instrument and wit, serve as tactics for exploring the deepest issues in these plays. Through selected readings from the above mentioned works as well as secondary materials we will try to open new perspectives on these familiar characters for use in the classroom.

What's so small about a microaggression? Mock Spanish after Trump's "Wall"

9:00 a.m.-noon
Friday, Jan. 26, 2024

Kristen Over, English Department
Denise Cloonan, Department of World Languages and Cultures

The world of education continues to evolve in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. With the 1619 Project (now mandated curriculum in Chicago Public Schools and other districts across the country), investigative journalism tackled what mainstream public education long avoided. But even in a blue state like Illinois, popular backlash makes the contemporary moment tricky for educators who teach tomorrow’s young leaders. As of March 2022, 35 states have passed or considered legislation that restricts how or whether teachers can address racial history, examine racism as a system of oppression, or discuss racism as a contemporary social problem.

Racism is pervasive in language as well, via microaggressions that may go undetected by some audiences. Whether you teach history, social studies, language, literature or science, this seminar offers concrete ways to engage students in robust discussion about American Studies despite the pressures of the historical moment.

Reading and Writing about Mass Incarceration in the English Classroom

9:00 a.m.-noon
Friday, Feb. 2, 2024
Timothy Barnett, English Department

This workshop will provide materials written by incarcerated and other authors who are examining the problems of mass incarceration in the U.S. There are films, documentaries, articles, scholarly books, and fiction that can help students of all ages examine "law and order" in America and consider how incarceration is linked to race, slavery, poverty, mental health, gender, and sexuality, among other things. We will discuss how to help students understand how much of an anomaly our prison system is in the history of the world and alternatives that exist both within and outside of the U.S. We will consider the sometimes conflicting discourses of victims' rights and the rights of the incarcerated as well as the ways education, inside and outside of prisons, can intervene in cycles of violence and despair. While the number of people incarcerated in Illinois and the country has slightly decreased over the past five years, it is likely that many students in our classes have loved ones who have been locked up or have had some interaction with the legal system themselves. Pulling this topic out of the darkness and thinking about alternatives through writing and fiction can help all of us imagine a better, less violent future.

The AI Bogeyman: what it is, what it isn't, and what our students need to know about it before they give up on english

9:00 a.m.-noon
Friday, Feb. 9, 2024
Tim Scherman, English Department

Folks are making a lot of money writing books about the pervasive cultural doomsday represented by “AI.” Through legacy outlets and social media, students are being directed sternly away from anything to do with the study of “English,” confident that machines will do “all the writing in the future.”

Given the quickly changing landscape of writing algorithms like OpenAI (ChatGpt),we cannot predict the specific state of play even some months from now, but we can spend a Friday morning in a rational discussion of AI and its theoretical and practical prospects for our culture and our classrooms. What can predictive algorithms do, and what aspects of writing might always be beyond them? What moral, cultural or individual values and skills does the culture of AI support, and which does it seem to abandon?

Reclaiming Work in American Literature and Life

9:00 a.m.-noon
Friday, Feb. 16, 2024
Timothy Libretti, English Department

Work, like sex, is a central element of the human experience. As a culture, though, while we reflect on sex obsessively, we don’t reflect much on the meaning and role of work in our lives. For teachers, it is useful to recognize how the ways we think about work and the ways our culture values various types of work and the people who do it influences classroom dynamics every bit as much as race and gender do. Moreover, for the most part, work isn’t a central category we use for analyzing literature and culture, although studying work inevitably leads us to thinking about more prominent categories of race, class, gender, and sexuality in more complex ways. What if we began our analysis of our society and economy, our literature and culture through the lens of work — how we organize it, what it means to us, how we relate to it, how it puts us in relation to others? How might reading the works of Hawthorne, Henry James, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Tomas Rivera, and others through the lens of work generate fresh insights into our social and human conditions? This seminar will take us in these directions, reflecting on cultural traditions as well as contemporary culture’s pervasive representations of work and workplaces in television and media, offering exciting possibilities for getting students to engage material in the classroom.

epistemic injustices in the classroom

9:00 a.m.-noon
Friday, Feb. 23, 2024
Stacey Goguen, Philosophy Department

In teaching, we want to empower our students as learners. An important part of learning new things is using what we already know: our epistemic agency. This is our capacity for (and comfort with) investigating questions, making claims, casting doubts, and forming judgments about the world around us. In this seminar, we'll examine how unjust stereotypes and biases can interfere with epistemic agency in the classroom. Participants will learn about epistemic injustices from the overt to the subtle. They'll also discuss philosophical issues of identity, authority, testimony, the purpose of education, and what fairness in the classroom looks like. The takeaway will be knowledge to help you spot epistemic injustices, some tactics for dealing with the ones within your control, and some questions to help you (and your students!) think more deeply about agency, education, and fairness.

It Does Happen Here: The Literary and Cultural Roots of American Authoritarianism

9:00 a.m.-noon
Friday, March 8, 2024
Timothy Libretti, English Department

It hardly seems arguable that U.S. national politics have, for nearly a decade now, veered in a decidedly and intensified authoritarian direction. That nearly half the nation seems to crave autocratic rule and repression, one would think, can’t simply be a brand new development. In fact, it’s not. Despite the fact that prominent trailblazers in American literary study, such as F.O. Matthiessen, defined American literature precisely by its strong democratic impulse and individualist spirit, one finds from even a cursory study of the U.S. literary tradition a powerful and canonical anti-democratic politics — relentlessly so. In the works of such writers as T.S. Eliot and William Faulkner, to name just two, one finds unapologetic supremacist values. Even the romantic individualism of Emerson and Thoreau, if read closely, endorse autocratic behavior, eschewing the rule of law that is a key principle of democracy. This seminar invites us to scrutinize closely as teachers of literature what values we are transmitting to our students as we teach U.S. literature, reflecting on how the institution of literary study itself has participated in creating our current national condition.

"What's Wrong With Johnny?" Understanding and Supporting Student Mental Health

**4:00-7:00 p.m.**
Thursday, April 18, 2024
A. David Farmer, Psychology Department

This Professional Development Workshop will support teachers in developing an understanding of student mental health. The first half of the seminar will focus on identifying student mental health issues such as anxiety, depression post-traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The second half of the seminar will offer teachers tips on how to support students with mental health issues and access school resources.

Dr. A. David Farmer Jr. is an Associate Professor of Psychology, Gerontology and African/African-American Studies at NEIU, as well as a licensed clinical psychologist who has provided clinical services to children and families for over two decades. Dr. Farmer’s research focuses on high-risk youth and the development of childhood psychopathology, more specifically disruptive behavior disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Dr. Farmer’s goal is to develop clinical interventions that address the mental health outcomes of violence exposure and trauma. He is especially interested in examining the effectiveness of evidence-based clinical interventions with Disruptive Behavior Disorders and trauma and violence exposure.


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