T-AMLIT Now Online

Electronic Forum Off to an Active Start

Two hours into its electronic existence, late in the evening of Saturday, March 5, T-AMLIT already had thirteen subscribers. Within seventy-two hours, the list of subscribers reached two hundred fifty. Randy Bass, moderator and editor of the new electronic forum for teachers and scholars of American literature, was excited and gratified at the immediate response.

The newest resource in the constellation of support items for The Heath Anthology of American Literature, TEACHING THE AMERICAN LITERATURES (T-AMLIT) extends the possibilities for communicating about scholarly or pedagogical issues related to literatures of the United States. T-AMLIT offers immediate access to colleagues across the country and around the world for purposes of answering queries or sharing knowledge--but that is only the beginning. Bass, a professor at Georgetown University and creator of the Syllabus Builder software, envisions much, much more for T-AMLIT. Beyond the open discussion, the T-AMLIT forum allows the exchange of longer pieces such as syllabi, bibliographies, and essays on pedagogical approaches. Bass hopes to inaugurate an electronic conference later this spring; special sessions would run for a month at a time on topics such as "Introducing Literary Theory into American Literature Courses" and "Teaching Class Issues through American Literature." He is also considering an electronic seminar which would offer a tutorial lesson on a given day of the week every week. Materials generated through or posted to the forum will be archived as part of a complementary project, "The Database of American Literature," being created through Georgetown University and also under the direction of Randy Bass.

In his welcoming remarks to new subscribers, Bass acknowledges that early subscribers have the opportunity to shape the character of T-AMLIT. After only a few weeks online, it is clear that subscribers are embracing that challenge. Well over four hundred individuals have subscribed, representing virtually every state in the United States and at least fourteen other countries. T-AMLIT has already featured a wide range of topics and exchange activities, including discussion of such issues as teaching in a networked classroom and the relationship between changing pedagogies and a changing canon; T-AMLIT has also featured a lot of requests and responses on text ideas, exchanges of entire syllabi, as well as dialogue about ways to teach certain kinds of texts and courses. All in all, from exchanging ideas over approaches to Working Class Literature, or Gay/Lesbian Narrative, to exchanging titles of Native American novels or Asian American women's autobiographies, to building a bibliography of multicultural anthologies--the first online hours have represented a successful launch for this new electronic forum.

What follows is the announcement Randy Bass posted to several lists describing T-AMLIT and offering instructions for subscribing:

Announcing a New List for Teachers of American Literature:


"Teaching the American Literatures" (T-AMLIT) is a new electronic forum for teachers and scholars interested in the literatures of the United States. T-AMLIT is dedicated to fostering discussion about innovative and effective ways to teach a radically expanded American literature.

T-AMLIT has several aspects. It is a moderated Discussion List for teachers to ask questions, converse and debate critical and pedagogical approaches to American literature, as well as to exchange information on print and electronic resources in American literature, including syllabi, bibliographies, study guides, and other pedagogical materials.

T-AMLIT is also an Electronic Conference, with extended electronic seminars on topics such as "Teaching Native American Literature"; there will also be online seminars focused on accessing and utilizing Internet resources related to American literature for both scholarship and teaching.

T-AMLIT as a Link in the Chain

Rather than thinking of T-AMLIT as simply a discussion list that supplements the professional lives of its subscribers, it was part of the original conception to imagine T-AMLIT as an enabling tool and resource among other such tools in a faculty member's life. One of T-AMLIT's goals is to function, in essence, as an online, electronic "instructor's manual," one that is dynamic and responsive to whatever particular version of the canon is being taught by a particular faculty member in a particular course; T-AMLIT is also a resource for faculty development, providing access to critical and pedagogical information on the American literatures, as well as information about electronic and network resources; finally, T-AMLIT functions as a clearinghouse for teachers to match their students up with other students so that they may participate in electronic collaboration.

From the beginning, "Teaching the American Literatures" was also conceived as the complement to a partner project: "The Database of American Literature," being created through Georgetown University. "The Database of American Literature" will be an online archive of pedagogical, critical, and scholarly materials on American literature, as well as a gateway to hundreds of American literature resources available on the Internet. T-AMLIT, as a discussion list and electronic conference, will function as a primary source and clearinghouse for materials for "The Database of American Literature." The design and content of "The Database of American Literature" is oriented for use by faculty as well as by students in course settings; its first phase will be accessible by late spring 1994.

Subscribing to T-AMLIT

To subscribe to T-AMLIT, send a mail message to


subscribe T-AMLIT [your name]

T-AMLIT and "The Database of American Literature" are moderated and edited by Randy Bass of Georgetown University.

T-AMLIT is sponsored by D. C.Heath in conjunction with The Heath Anthology of American Literature; host computer space and support provided by EDUCOM/CREN in Washington, D.C.

Contents, No. XI