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Public Stakes, Public Stories: Service Learning in Literary Studies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


Discussions about academic work often tangle with the seemingly bifurcating demands of teaching and research. occasionally, they celebrate how the two endeavors nurture each other. These professional divisions, which George Levine a decade ago called a “combat” scenario between “two nations” (9), have not been reconciled since then. Despite that persistent tension, when I shifted my professional energies to the academy after several years of community-based social work with not-for-profit organizations serving Hispanic populations, the challenges of balancing teaching and research were not my only concerns. I also wondered how I could incorporate community service into the multiple demands of academic life. Would there be time to devote to the community? Would I find academic work in an area where I might have something to contribute beyond the campus? Aside from location and time constraints, would I find a way to integrate into my faculty identity an engagement with the wider society, or would those endeavors be relegated to a separate self, dissociated from my academic world? I anticipated that extensions of my teaching and scholarship might connect with realms outside the academy. Accepting the challenge, I patiently observed my campus and surrounding community, searching for opportunities for interaction.

the changing profession
Copyright © 2012 by The Modern Language Association of America

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