Transitions and Transactions II

Literature and Creative Writing Pedagogies in Community Colleges

Transitions and Transactions II:

Literature and Creative Writing Pedagogies in Community Colleges

April 25-27, 2014

Welcome to the Home Page for Transitions and Transactions II.

How does a “welcome” engage the one welcomed? What kind of “welcome” rings true to the community college student sitting in a literature class for the first time? How do we engage students and inspire them to become active participants in their own learning? How do we become teachers better able to meet the challenges we encounter in our classrooms today?

How do we engage a mother of three in the front row, or the first generation immigrant who is anxious about getting a marketable education, the accounting major in whose home country would never have to take classes outside of his major, the inner city teenager who wonders why a long novel written in another country could be important to her, the religious student who has been told that liberal humanism is dangerous, the student whose wealthy parents are punishing him by sending him to community college, the working father who has no time to read long books or “wonder about meaning,” the learning-disabled student who is afraid he will read too slowly to get through the class?

How do we welcome community college students to the study of literature today? How do we make dialogue, exchange and debate possible in our literature classrooms welcoming everyone’s participation and engagement? What works? What have we learned? What are we learning? How can we continue to develop as teachers and learners ourselves?

How is creative writing an important part of the learning process for community college students? What are the challenges we face in the creative writing community college classroom?

As teachers of literature and creative writing, together we ask the larger question: How do we make a literary life and literary citizenship possible both for our students and for ourselves?


Dr. Margaret Barrow and Dr. Manya Steinkoler, conference designers and coordinators.

Special thanks to the Conference Organizational Committee:
Andrew Levy, Jan Stahl, Zhanna Yablokova, Elizabeth Berlinger, Racquel Goodison, Lara Stapleton, David Bahr, Stephanie Oppenheim, Rolando Jorif, Catherine Cammillieri, Aimee Record, Tim Keane, Sheri Stein, Jungah Kim, and Bil Wright.

With special thanks to Poets House for making their space available through their Literary Partners Program.
Poets House logo

Billy Collins photo


Billy Collins is an American phenomenon. No poet since Robert Frost has managed to combine high critical acclaim with such broad popular appeal. His work has appeared in a variety of periodicals including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The American Scholar, he is a Guggenheim fellow and a New York Public Library "Literary Lion." His last three collections of poems have broken sales records for poetry. His readings are usually standing room only, and his audience – enhanced tremendously by his appearances on National Public Radio – includes people of all backgrounds and age groups. The poems themselves best explain this phenomenon. The typical Collins poem opens on a clear and hospitable note but soon takes an unexpected turn; poems that begin in irony may end in a moment of lyric surprise. No wonder Collins sees his poetry as "a form of travel writing" and considers humor, "a door into the serious." It is a door that many thousands of readers have opened with amazement and delight. Billy Collins has published eight collections of poetry, including Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, Picnic, Lightning, Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes, Sailing Alone Around the Room: New & Selected Poems, Nine Horses, and The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems.

Bedford St.Martin logo Norton and Company logo