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Eastern Professor Debuts New Book to Community

Published on October 18, 2016

Eastern Professor Debuts New Book to Community

Allison Speicher, an English professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, held a book talk on Oct. 12 to debut her new book, “Schooling Readers: Reading Common Schools in 19th Century American Fiction.”

Speicher’s book discloses literature that individuals have not been reading and scholars have neglected to study. “I wanted to bring these publications to light,” said Spiecher, “and explain why we should be reading these. I am recovering the particular literature that I call the ‘common school narrative’ — fictional stories about one-room schools written during the 19th century.”

Speicher explained about the importance of that time in history and how it

shaped our public school system. “Most scholars have studied literature related to other reform movements during the 19th century,” said Spiecher, “such as the abolition of slavery, temperance and women’s suffrage.  There hasn’t been scholarly activity around literature about school reform, so that’s the gap that this book fills.”

Spiecher explained that the book started as her dissertation when she was a student at Indiana University.  “It all started with a hunch, nobody knew these stories were out there and I just felt like they needed to be. So I started looking for them in digital databases, particularly the American periodical series, and found 130 stories in a matter of weeks.”

Spiecher’s audience of students and faculty sat engaged as she explained the writing process for her book. “What I do throughout the book is look at the 130 stories that I found,” said Spiecher. “They are essentially school readers — that’s where the title comes from — on issues related to education.”

The reading concluded with a question and answer segment, with Speicher elaborating on her writing process with each answer. “I am the kind of person who likes to read all the material and then do the writing,” said Spiecher. “I do everything they tell you not to do when you write. I don’t write every day, I do all the research up front, do a ton of reading, take a ton of notes, and then it’s simulated into a comprehensive outline. Then I write it chapter by chapter and go back through and revise.”

“We are truly fortunate to have such a talented scholar-teacher in our English Department,” said Lisa Fraustino, professor and English department chair. “As a result of her first book, which breaks new ground in this subject, Allison’s reputation is growing rapidly among scholars in the field, as I have witnessed personally at conferences of the Children’s Literature Association.”  Our English, Education and Liberal Studies majors benefit greatly from the deep knowledge of schooling and pedagogy that Dr. Speicher brings to her classrooms.”

Written by Chrstina Rossomando

Categories: English