Teaching Philosophy

Supporting the growing personal responsibility of students during the course of their studies is at the centre of my teaching. The introductory courses (to literature and literary theory, respectively) I teach in Erlangen are comparatively traditional in their reliance on guided discussions and a lecturer-centred approach, but students are nevertheless involved actively – via informal two-minute ‘footnote presentations’ in the ‘Grundseminar’ and group presentations in the ‘Aufbauseminar’, in which students have to work in teams and learn to evaluate theoretical approaches critically. In undergraduate seminars (Proseminar), my teaching focus is not only on group discussions and the ‘classic’ oral presentation: students are also encouraged to influence the structure of sessions by answering weekly reading response questions – their answers are used to determine the thematic emphasis of each session; this also allows shy students to articulate their views. In advanced courses (Hauptseminar), students become co-lecturers: in guided and closely supervised expert sessions students can determine the main emphases for their respective session in collaboration with me, test their own didactic ideas and learn to design their own teaching units. The same is true for exam preparation courses, in which students use past exam questions to guide their co-students’ work on these questions.

My aim is to develop this approach and its foundation in the growing independence and self-reliance of students further in the supervision of theses and doctoral theses, and to assist these students in the evolution of their own approaches to academic work and how it can become a part of their future careers. I am a mentor for ARIADNEphil, a programme for the advancement of female academics at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, and have advised young scholars at the beginning of their careers in this context. I have also co-organised the 11. Weiterbildungsseminar der Deutschen Gesellschaft für das Studium britischer Kulturen (which is aimed at postgraduate and postdoc participants) in 2017, where we discussed research projects, the structure of the academic working environment (and application procedures) as well as alternative career paths.

Evaluations are a standard part of my teaching, and all assessments of evaluations made available to students via FAU’s online platform. In addition to end-of-term evaluations, ‘minute papers’ are a routine aspect of thematic courses; they allow students to utter open questions or unclear aspects freely and anonymously at the end of each session and are subsequently used to re-open class discussions at the beginning of the next session. Transparency is an integral aspect of the assessment of course work – I discuss the criteria used for the correction of term papers with students in detail. The same is true for course material such as PowerPoint-presentations or handouts, which are available as pdf-downloads after sessions.

I am very interested in alternative teaching formats and have already successfully tested the possibility of integrating a student conference into a seminar. PS Post-Colonial Shakespeares and HS Neo-Victorianism (both conducted as co-teaching experiments with Dr. Nadine Böhm-Schnitker) culminated in a student conference in which students presented their own papers. The courses started with an intense phase in which content was discussed, followed by a theoretical introduction to the conference paper as a genre; students then developed abstracts and complete conference papers in a phase which was monitored and supervised carefully. Conference papers could then be used as the foundation of term papers.