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Sheridan Blau

Professional Background

Educational Background

Scholarly Interests

The Teaching and Learning of Literature
The Teaching and Learning of Composition
Seventeenth Century British Literature
Student Development in Academic Discourse
The Professional Development of Teachers of English
The Disciplinary History and Practice of English Education

Selected Publications

Representative Publications:

"Milton's Salvational Aesthetic." Journal of Religion, 1966.

"The Poet as Casuist:Herbert's 'Church Porch,'" Genre,   Vol. IV, No. 2, 1971.

"Reflections on True and False Knowledge: A Homily for English Teachers." Journal of English Teaching Techniques, 1981.

"Literacy as a Form of Courage." Journal of Reading, 1981.

"Invisible Writing: Investigating Cognitive Processes in Composition." College Composition and Communication, 1983.

"Contexts for Competence in Composition." The Quarterly, October, 1987.
"Teacher Development and the Revolution in Teaching," English Journal, April 1988
"Thinking and the Liberation of Attention: The Uses of Free and Invisible Writing." Chapter in Nothing Begins with an N: Freewriting Reconsidered. Pat Belanoff, Peter Elbow, and Sheryl Fontaine, eds. Southern Illinois University Press, 1990.

"Transactions Between Theory and Practice in the Teaching of Literature." Chapter in Literature Instruction: Practice and Policy. James Flood and Judith Langer, eds. Scholastic Press: Leadership, Policy, and Research series, 1994.

"Toward the Separation of School and State." Language Arts, Vol. 75, February, 1998.

“Politics and the English Language Arts.” Chapter in The Fate of Progressive Language Policies and Practices. C. Dudley-Marling & C. Edelsky, eds. NCTE, 2001.

The Literature Workshop: Teaching Texts and Their Readers. Heinemann, 2003.

“College Writing, Academic Literacy, and the Intellectual Community: California Dreams and Cultural Oppositions.” Chapter in What is College Level Writing. P. Sullivan and H. Tinberg, eds.  NCTE 2006.

“Believing and Doubting as Hermeneutic Method: Reading and Teaching Paradise Lost.” Journal of the Assembly for Advanced Perspectives on Learning. Forthcoming, 2010. 

biographical information

Sheridan Blau is the Distinguished Senior Lecturer in Arts and Humanities and the Coordinator of the Teachers College Program in English Education and the Teaching of English. He is also Professor of English and Education (emeritus) at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), where he taught for nearly 40 years before his retirement in 2009. He earned his BA at Rutgers University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in English and American Literature at Brandeis University, before becoming an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Michigan where he taught for four years before moving to UCSB. At UCSB he served for over 30 years as the director of two major professional development programs for teachers: the South Coast Writing Project and the Literature Institute for Teachers. He also served as the Director of the campus Composition Program from 1984-90, and for over twenty years as program head of the UCSB teacher-education program in English. He also served for over 20 years as a member of the Committee responsible for University of California’s statewide Analytical Writing Placement Exam. In 2006 he was honored by the UCSB Faculty Senate with a Distinguished Teaching Award. From January 2008 through the spring of 2009 he was a Visiting Professor of English Education at Teachers College. In the summer of 2012 he served as a Visiting Professor of English at the National Institute of Education, Singapore.

Beyond the university, Professor Blau served for many years as a member of the Assessment Development Panel for National Certification in English for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and as a Senior Advisor to the California Test Development Committee for statewide assessments in reading and writing. He also held appointments as a Senior Scholar of the National Research Center on Literature Teaching and Learning and as a member of the English Academic Advisory Committee to the College Board. For 20 years he has also directed the National Literature Project Network, and he served for over two decades as a member of the National Writing Project Advisory Board and Task Force.

Dr. Blau is also a former President of the National Council of Teachers of English (1997-98) and served as a member of the presidential team from 1995-2000. He has chaired two international conferences on the teaching of language and literacy (1996 in Heidelberg and 1998 in Bordeaux) and has conducted workshops and delivered keynote addresses and invited scholarly and professional papers at hundreds of professional conferences and institutes over the past thirty years. In 2007 he was awarded the NCTE Distinguished Service Award for service to the profession of English through professional leadership, contributions to teaching, and exemplary writing. In 2012 he was named “Rhetorician of the Year” by the Young Rhetoricians Conference in recognition of his career long contributions to the teaching of writing, to the development of teachers of writing through his leadership roles in the National Writing Project; and, through his own research and publications, to the discipline of composition as a field for teaching and research.

Research and Publications
Dr. Blau’s current research is focused on the relationship between reading and learning and the learning enabled by the reading of literature. His publication record includes 5 authored or co-edited books and 53 other publications covering the fields of seventeenth century British Literature, the teaching and learning of composition and literature, professional development for teachers, and the ethics and politics of literacy. His widely influential book, The Literature Workshop: Teaching Texts and Their Readers (Heinemann, 2003), was named by the Conference on English Education as the winner of the 2004 Richard Meade Award for outstanding research in English education.

A&HE 4051: Critical Approaches to Literature

Literary selections are examined through various critical frameworks emphasizing the way texts are constructed and how readers negotiate meaning with texts. Special fee required.

A&HE 5514: Literature and Literary Study

This course is an advanced seminar in literature and in critical theory as it relates to the reading, writing, and teaching of literature. May include an intensive study of a particular literary text, author, genre, or period. Special fee required.