How should the teaching of literature reflect a rapidly changing society? Should we return to apparently “difficult” authors who we have abandoned, and discover new facets for their work? Or should we aim to disrupt institutionalised norms, and promote empathy or respect for others? Our panelists will consider these and other questions.
Angus Whitehead – Global Writer, Global literacy: A plea for a reintroduction of Shakespeare to all ‘good’ Singapore secondary schools
Up until the 1980s a majority of students in Singapore were exposed to Shakespeare in some form or another. Since then, the number of students taking literature has dramatically decreased, resulting in fewer students engaging with Shakespeare. Now regarded as a key global writer, Shakespeare is a primary figure on the world’s stage. Students with no access to his work will be at some disadvantage. Angus Whitehead suggests ways in which Shakespeare is against all odds thriving in Singapore schools, as well as how and why those examples of good practice need to be replicated in every good school in Singapore. Culturally, linguistically, personally, educators in Singapore ignore Shakespeare at their own, and perhaps more importantly their students’ peril.
Angelia Poon – Literature for a Cosmopolitan and/or National Subject
Angelia Poon explores the aims of teaching Literature in English in Singapore schools. A traditional but dominant argument would be that teachers should teach Literature for nationalistic and nation-building reasons. This would be a justification for reading and studying Singapore literature. In the face of increasing pressure from globalization, we are moved to consider the need for conceiving of Literature teaching in more cosmopolitan terms. Even so, the national subject envisaged within the framework of Singapore’s centralized education system is one that is calibrated to possess only certain
aspects of cosmopolitanism that would be aligned to the state’s neoliberal policies and rationality. How can Literature reinforce or disrupt the constitution of such a subject? What kinds of pedagogies in Literature might lead to performances of the national and/or the cosmopolitan?
Vasugi Kailasam – Teaching Literature, Cultivating Empathy
How does one use literature to evoke empathy? Vasugi Kailasam reflects upon her experience teaching contemporary Tamil literature to Singaporean undergraduate students who have little to no background in the humanities, except for a genuine curiosity to learn. She deliberates the changing nature of modern Tamil literature and its place in the canon of world literatures and how it poses exciting possibilities when taught in a diasporic and multicultural setting such as Singapore. The talk will touch upon the emotion of empathy and how it lends itself to fractured meanings while reading literature in the vernacular in our current attention-deficient age.
Admission: Free. Please register at http://peatix.com/event/153639
Venue: Centre 42, 42 Waterloo Street, Singapore 187951
When: 12 May 2016, 7.30pm