This article is part of an occasional series in which English students interview faculty about their research and report back. Taylor Davis is a sophomore English major with a professional writing emphasis.
In “Mapping British Women in the Classroom: Anthologies and the Direction of Identity,” Dr. Melissa Schaub compares and contrasts the Norton, Longman, and Broadview Anthologies by describing the benefits and downfalls of each anthology in order to choose the best one for classroom use. Dr. Schaub presented this research work at the Eighteenth and Nineteenth British Women Writers Association Annual Conference at the University of Texas at Austin in April 2018.
Dr. Schaub’s research and choice of which anthology to use originated from the news of the Longman Anthology that they would no longer produce an up to date edition. The issue of choosing the best anthology impacts what she will teach as well as what is considered “British Literature”, which is dictated by the publishers and editors of the anthologies.
Initially, Dr. Schaub found the Longman anthology to be the best. From a theoretical perspective, it was the best because of the organization of the texts allowed her to easily move from one section to the next; however, once she was told that the Longman anthology would not produce anymore editions, she was forced to either keep the old edition, or use another anthology with a newer and more up to date texts and information. She stated that she still has not found the best possible answer, but her choice of the Norton Anthology is the best for now.
The research she conducted not only affects British Literature, but also the teaching profession in general. Dr. Schaub feels as though teachers have a moral and ethical obligation to choose the best teaching instruments and books to use. While conducting this research, she realized that the issue of choosing the right textbooks, including anthologies, for the classroom was a much larger issue than she had realized.
Dr. Schaub found the research and writing process to be very exciting and enjoyable. She enjoyed learning about the history of the anthologies and the competition between the Longman and Norton Anthologies that has existed for many years. She also enjoyed the practicality of this issue regarding the anthology deemed as the best.
The most difficult of this research and writing process was that fact that her topic was not a traditional topic, but rather a choice she had to make regarding which anthology to use in the classroom. She conducted quite a bit of research, which surprised her because she did not expect to see the number of people debating and discussing this issue. Dr. Schaub was also faced with the challenge of limiting herself to the allotted time that she was given. She had trouble deciding what was worth keeping and what should be taken away. She decided to use some of her information and her research as footnotes.