Ecotone’s wide-ranging exploration of writing and art of place makes the magazine uniquely suited to the classroom, and we’re always delighted when instructors adopt the magazine for their classes. Teaching with Ecotone offers students the opportunity to write critically and creatively, to discover and articulate their own senses of place, to engage with visual art and literary history, and to understand print culture and literature as a landscape that they are part of. Our theme issues, including Sound, Sustenance, and Body, put the magazine in conversation with a variety of disciplines, making it relevant for a range of courses in the humanities and sciences.
Teaching the craft of editing and publishing has always been a vital part of Ecotone’s work. Now we are pleased to offer teaching guides and writing prompts, tailored to specific issues of the magazine and/or the work within them, for instructors of writing, literature, environmental studies, publishing, and other disciplines. Materials in the series will be posted on our website, freely available for instructors to download and use.
Great thanks to Ecotone postgraduate fellow Sophia Stid, who has made the project a reality. We’re thankful as well to the National Endowment for the Arts, for its vital support of this work and of our teacher-authors.
Soon we’ll debut the first of our guides at our Teach Ecotone page. We’ll also feature authors for the series in this space, so stay tuned!
To begin, we offer our guiding principles for the project:
Spending time with a magazine matters. We cultivate depth. We believe in the power of return, of coming back to the same pages over time. How can we encourage students to give this time to the magazine, and to themselves? We provide teachers with one-month units that can be shortened, lengthened, or adapted as needed, as well as shorter guides that can be used in a day or a week. We believe learning happens in the long haul and in the sudden epiphany. We hold space for both.
Considerations of place and environment are more vital than ever. Ecotone strives to offer writing that engages with place, both toward cultivating love of place and toward engaging readers around critical issues of how we live within it. Climate crisis and the intersections of social and environmental justice are just two issues we and our readers care about; by including as wide a range of contributors as possible, we aim to expand the conversation about these and other concerns, while offering a reading experience that is enjoyable, provocative, and surprising. Teaching the magazine allows instructors to bring questions of place, environment, and ecology in to literature, publishing, writing, and other classroom spaces.
Teachers know what will best support their students’ learning. We provide these materials to aid teachers who make space for Ecotone in their classrooms. We expect that the guides available here will be adapted, altered, and used creatively as needed in each individual circumstance. We highlight the work of excellent teachers in presenting these guides, and will continue to seek out fresh feedback from working teachers as the project develops.
The parts exist in relationship to the whole; the whole exists because of its parts. Our teaching materials embody an understanding of this relationship, and seek to catalyze that understanding for students. They include overarching questions, as well as specific questions on the level of line, image, and craft.
Reading and writing help us think. Our guides teach the art of reading like writers, and writing like readers. We want to trouble dichotomies that separate reading from writing, creative from critical, analytic from generative. Each guide includes prompts for writing in class, writing out of class, writing to discover, and writing to synthesize.
Question-asking is an art of its own. As we work on each issue of Ecotone, we ask questions of our writers, our readers, and ourselves. When we teach the magazine, we are teaching the art of asking questions. A good question is an act of love; it enlivens and expands its subject in the mind of the questioner.
Teaching the magazine as a printed object is an opportunity. Teaching issues of Ecotone makes possible discussions about place; the craft of editing; print culture; diversity, inclusion, and decolonization; and our contemporary literary landscape and the ways it is in conversation with the past. The magazine’s departments, including Poem in a Landscape, Various Instructions, Map, and the Strip, offer unique paths into conversations about literature. Incorporating pedagogical theory, research, and practice, our guides engage with Ecotone as a printed, crafted artifact with a role in literary culture, past, present, and future.