National Teaching Fellow 2014
Early in his academic career, Professor Robert Eaglestone found himself divided between one part of his academic life, writing on philosophy and theory, and another, teaching first-year English students. He resolved this diremption by reading works of higher education pedagogy. He came across a marvellous book, which not only drew on the theory and philosophy he was researching but which also gave voice to his deepest intuitions about the power of teaching and the nature of the world. That book was Paulo Freire’s The Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
Robert was fascinated by Freire’s seamless adaption of philosophy for the concrete work of teaching. More importantly, he was transformed as an educator by Freire’s argument that teaching was not “simply ‘depositing’ ideas” in people’s heads but was a creative, constructive dialogue with partners, and that this dialogue is not “a crafty instrument for the domination of one person by another” but a liberating and transformational experience for both teacher and student. These insights remain at the heart of his teaching.
Inspired by Friere and by his experience of teaching, Robert wrote the best-selling textbook, Doing English (3rd edition 2009). The educational expert Gary Snapper wrote that this book was “probably the first substantial engagement with the relationship between A Level and university English by a university English lecturer” for years and “led to a resurgence of discussion about the transition between A Level and HE English”. Robert is also Series Editor of the textbook series Routledge Critical Thinkers, which has 42 volumes to date and has sold over tens of thousands of copies worldwide. He has advised a number of government agencies and exam boards.
Robert works on contemporary literature and literary theory, contemporary philosophy and on Holocaust and Genocide studies, and is the author of four further books including The Holocaust and the Postmodern (Oxford UP 2004) and Contemporary fiction (Oxford UP 2013). He is the editor or co-editor of seven more. His work has been translated into five languages and he regularly speaks at literary festivals and writes in the national and educational press.
Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought
Royal Holloway, University of London