Fenton Books was established, in part, to promote conversation among those who seek to discuss how the publishing industry can best support the theoretical and pedagogical concerns that shape their classroom practice.


A Word from a Fenton Books Author

Perhaps English teachers should not be allowed to read epics. It seems to predispose us to risky and unpromising quests, like trying to find a truly good text for the first-year composition course. You may see us any year at CCCC, intrepidly scouring publishers’ bins and grilling book reps – Jason hunting up the fleece, Gilgamesh groping for the immortality weed, Dante scrambling for a glimpse of paradise. We go home with our prizes – catalogues and examination copies – and often with an edgy optimism that maybe, just maybe, publishers have finally succeeded in merging theory and practice in writing texts. Discussions of theoretical implications for practice that began at those open-air bins continue, perhaps more urgently, in department meetings that must end with an actual adoption. We want a book that is elegant, meaningful, current, and above all, useful. Then, when we realize just how few textbooks live up to glowing catalog promises of a pedagogy that manifests current theory, we fear we may become Ahab, may harpoon a whale likely to drag us down.


Fenton Books responds to a call, repeated throughout the last few decades, for theoretically informed texts that will provide a solid foundation for intellectual growth. Attention to the scholarly and pedagogical interests of instructors promises that such books will become the norm, not the exception—and that the quest for a first-year text will become not quite so heroic and “new book” semesters not quite so risky, leaving teachers less Ahab and more Ismael. . .a little soggy, perhaps, but still afloat.

We are eager to hear your thoughts of how current textbooks might be revised and new books constructed to encourage a more theory-conscious pedagogy.


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