English Journal is NCTE's award-winning journal of ideas for English language arts teachers in junior and senior high schools and middle schools.
Calls for Manuscripts
All manuscripts should be submitted via the Editorial Manager system.
General Interest Submissions
We publish articles of general interest as space is available. You may submit manuscripts on any topic that will appeal to EJ readers. Remember that EJ articles foreground classroom practice and contextualize it in sound research and theory. As you know, EJ readers appreciate articles that show real students and teachers in real classrooms engaged in authentic teaching and learning. Regular manuscript guidelines regarding length and style apply.
Teaching with Hope, Teaching for Justice
Submission Deadline: February 1, 2023
Publication Date: September 2023
New editorship: Amy Burke, Aimee Hendrix-Soto, and Mary Amanda (Mandy) Stewart.
For our first issue of EJ, we invite manuscripts that speak to the existing wisdom of practicing ELAR teachers and their students, literacy teacher educators, and literacy researchers. Over the last two years, we have collectively experienced a global pandemic, civil unrest and disobedience in response to police and state-sanctioned violence, and laws restricting and censoring content and texts. As always, some communities experienced significantly greater hardship and were disproportionately affected by these events.
In that spirit, we encourage submissions that may disrupt what is considered best practices or that question long-held assumptions about learners and literacy teaching. How have you adjusted your teaching in response to the new normals (e.g., pandemic adjustments, civil unrest, restrictive legislation, and censorship)? Where have you found pockets of light that have allowed you to sustain yourself, your students, and your communities? In places where justice work seems impossible but is most crucially needed, what work you are doing?
As always, we also publish articles of general interest as space is available. You may submit manuscripts on any topic that will appeal to EJ readers. Remember that EJ articles foreground classroom practice and contextualize it in sound research and theory. As you know, our readers appreciate articles that show real students and teachers in real classrooms, engaged in authentic teaching and learning. Regular manuscript guidelines regarding length and style apply. Please email us at EnglishJournalEditors2023@gmail.com with any questions.
Book Banning and Censorship: Resistance in the ELAR Classroom
Submission Deadline: April 1, 2023
Publication Date: January 2024
New editorship: Amy Burke, Aimee Hendrix-Soto, and Mary Amanda (Mandy) Stewart.
Literacy and teaching have always been political acts (Freire 43, ch. 1; Willis and Harris 72). In a time when our democratic norms have been challenged perhaps more strongly than ever before, classrooms must remain spaces to engage with ideas without fear of recrimination. However, since 2021, both state legislatures and local school boards across the United States have sought to more greatly control educational discourse through book bans (see PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans) and the regulation of what topics can and cannot be discussed in classrooms (Friedman and Johnson n.p.). As of August 2022, at least six states have either proposed or passed legislation calling for the removal of books from school libraries and/or classrooms (Jensen n.p.). In Virginia, some lawmakers proposed outlawing the sale of certain books at privately owned businesses, such as Barnes & Noble (Natanson n.p.). At the same time, politically motivated groups have strategically taken over school boards in some places, with the newly configured boards enacting policies at the local level that even more greatly restrict book access and topics of classroom discussion (Goodman n.p.). In many instances, books and topics that are banned involve already marginalized groups, such as LBGTQIA+ and/or BIPOC persons, and often include material of a sexual nature (Robinson; Friedman and Johnson).
In addition to the consequences for educators outlined directly in these laws and/or policies (e.g., loss of job, suspension or loss of teaching licensure, loss of district accreditation), there are also additional material, panopticon-like (Bentham & Bosovic 43; Foucault 195) consequences, which in many cases seem to be the unspoken intent of the policies in the first place: when the fear is great enough, people surveil themselves. Examples of this include school districts preemptively removing all books from classroom libraries, even those not on “the list” and the preemptive discontinuation of book clubs although they are still legally allowed (Richardson Independent School District n.p.). In another instance, a city government forced its public library to remove a Twitter post which, during the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, simply listed the ten most widely banned books, and then apologized on behalf of the library for appearing to court controversy (Zheng n.p.).
While these actions certainly are not without precedent (e.g, the McCarthy Red Scare; 1980’s Satanic panic), history also shows us the importance of active resistance in the face of government censorship. Resistance can take many forms and occur in different contexts. We often conceptualize resistance as occurring in public spaces; for example, one may speak out against a proposed policy at a school board meeting or participate in a march on public streets. However, many forms of resistance occur within more private spaces. Drawing on Collins’ Black feminist epistemological frame, these acts are “everyday acts of resistance” (37). These “everyday acts” might include teachers who have been barred from using certain books in their classroom, but still work to actively build and maintain a classroom community of respect, kindness, and empathy, especially for those different from themselves. Or perhaps a teacher uses their district’s required materials, but in such a way that difficult and/or topical issues are still addressed through those texts. Youth themselves also enact everyday ways of resistance, such as through not engaging in work in which they are not represented or that is not meaningful to their lives.
For this themed issue, we are interested in 1) the stories of how laws and policies (or the threat thereof) have caused material consequences for your teaching, research, or work more broadly; 2) forms of resistance you and/or your students may have engaged in or experienced in order to counter attempts to control access to books, discourse, and ideas; 3) practice-based research you have conducted that directly addresses or relates to these issues.
Freidman, Jonathan, and Johnson, Nadine Farid. “Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools.” PEN America, 11 Oct. 2022, https://pen.org/report/banned-usa-growing-movement-to-censor-books-in-schools/.
Bentham, Jeremy. The Panopticon Writings. Edited by Miran Božovič, Verso, 2011.
“Book Titles in Schools.” Richardson Independent School District, 29 Sept. 2021, https://web.risd.org/home/book-titles-in-schools/.
Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. 2nd ed., Routledge, 2022.
Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Translated by Alan Sheridan, 2nd ed., Vintage, 1991.
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 50th Anniversary Edition. Bloomsbury Academic, 2018.
Goodman, J. David. “How a Christian Cellphone Company Became a Rising Force in Texas Politics.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 5 Oct. 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/05/us/texas-patriot-mobile.html.
Jensen, Kelly. “States That Have Enacted Book Ban Laws: Book Censorship News, August 26, 2022.” BOOK RIOT, 25 Aug. 2022, https://bookriot.com/states-that-have-enacted-book-ban-laws-2022/.
Natanson, Hannah. “Judge Thwarts Va.. Republicans’ Effort to Limit Book Sales at Barnes & Noble.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 2 Sept. 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2022/08/30/barnes-and-noble-virginia-book-ban/.
Robinson, Ishena. “Anti-Critical Race Theory and Banned Books Halt Justice.” Legal Defense Fund, 20 Sept. 2022, https://www.naacpldf.org/critical-race-theory-banned-books/.
Willis, Arlette Ingram, and Violet J. Harris. “Political acts: Literacy learning and teaching.” Reading Research Quarterly35.1 (2000): 72-88.
Zheng, Lili. “Keller Orders Removal of Public Library’s Post Promoting Banned Books Week.” NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth, 21 Sept. 2022, https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/keller-orders-removal-of-public-librarys-post-promoting-banned-books-week/3077899/.
Speaking My Mind
We invite you to speak out on an issue that concerns you about English language arts teaching and learning. If your essay is published, it will appear with your photo in a future issue of EJ. We welcome essays of 1,000 to 1,500 words, as well as inquiries regarding possible subjects.
Editors: Peter Elliott, Lone Star College, University Park, Texas; and Alexa Garvoille, MFA Program, Creative Writing, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia
“To live in this world / you must be able / to do three things: / to love what is mortal; / to hold it / against your bones knowing / your life depends on it; / and, when the time comes to let it go, / to let it go.” These words from Mary Oliver’s poem “In Blackwater Woods” speak not only to how to live in this world but also to how we learn and teach. As teachers, we hold against our bones so much that our lives depend on—helping a student, learning a difficult concept, speaking up for justice, or reading a favorite text—but then must learn to let go. In the pages of English Journal, we look to publish well-crafted poems that connect our readers to topics central to English education: the impact of reading and writing on young people, words and language, classroom stories, and reflections on teaching and learning. Poetry reminds us, as educators, how to live in this world.
Submit your work by emailing an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the subject line “Poetry Submission for Review.” The first page of the attached document should be a cover sheet that includes your name, address, email, and a two-sentence biographical sketch. In your bio, include how long you have been a member of NCTE, if applicable, and a publishable contact email. Following the cover sheet, include one to five original poems in the same document. Though we welcome work of any length, shorter pieces (thirty lines and under) often work best for the journal. Poems must be original and not previously published. Simultaneous submissions are welcome, though writers must immediately withdraw from consideration any poems that are to be published elsewhere by contacting the editors via email.
Poets whose work is published will receive two complimentary copies of the issue in which their work appears. Additional inquiries about poetry submissions may be directed to the coeditors at email@example.com. We look forward to reading and celebrating your work.
Teacher photographs of classroom scenes and individual students are welcome. Photographs may be uploaded to Editorial Manager at the address above in any standard image format at 300 dpi. Photos should be accompanied by complete identification: teacher/photographer’s name, location of scene, and date photograph was taken. If faces are clearly visible, names of those photographed should be included, along with their statement of permission for the photograph to be reproduced in EJ.
Cartoons should depict scenes or ideas potentially amusing to English language arts teachers. They can be submitted to Editorial Manager at the address above; we can accept any standard graphics format at 300 dpi.
For information on writing for the EJ columns, see the Columns and Column Editors page.
For EJ Submission Guidelines, see Write for Us.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.