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Bruce Novak

Bruce Novak

Assistant Professor Professor of English

Office: 109B Leonard Hall
Phone: 724-357-4938

Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction—English Education, University of Chicago, 2002  Thesis:  Humanism and Freedom: Matthew Arnold’s Vision of a Great-Souled, Educative Democracy and Its Bearing on the Crises of Our Time

M.A.T. (in Teaching) English, University of Chicago, 1994  Thesis: Our Unacknowledged Faith: The Humanities as the Religion of the Democratic Community

B.A., English and Journalism, University of Chicago, 1978

Academic Interests 
The Humanities and Democracy, the Poetics of Teaching, Wisdom Literature and Literature as Wisdom, Reader-Response Theory and Creative Reading, English Education K-PhD, Philosophy, Evolutionary Psychology and the Arts, Object Relations Psychoanalysis, Shakespeare, the Romantics, Transcendentalists, and Victorians, Chaucer, Classics

My book Teaching Literature for Love and Wisdom (Columbia University Teachers College Press, The National Writing Project, and The National Council of Teachers of English, 2011, co-written with nationally famous literacy scholar and teacher Jeffrey D. Wilhelm (You Gotta BE the Book) has been hailed as “a 21st century defense of literature”:  “There is no book in the entire field of English Education or English Studies that is comparable in its aims and scope,” (Sheridan Blau, Chair of English Education at Columbia University Teachers College).

I am equally proud of the fact that I received an IUP Teaching Excellence Award, in just my second year here, for using the ideas and methods of the above book with IUP Comp 101 students, encouraging them to write, read, speak, and listen with their hearts and souls through a semester-long unit, “Education and Hope,” tailored to the unique transition all college freshmen seek to make to a wider world than the one they’ve grown up in.  

I have come to equally love teaching 121, “Humanities/Literature,” taught through the theme “Literature as a Cultural Gift for Personal Awakeness to Life,” and English 122, “Introduction to English Studies,” approached centrally through helping each student begin to explore and develop a personal calling in the humanities.

Over the summer of 2013, I got a good start on my next book—The Opening of the American Heart: The Great Educational Awakening on the Horizon of Democratic Life—a work of political philosophy that will make a call to the democratic public to institute a new liberal education for all, based on the evidence of narrative portrayals I will give of soul-stirring teaching taking place in public schools at all levels, K-PhD, in this country, including my work here at IUP. 

Recent Articles
“The Heart’s Truth:  Seeing Philosophy Anew through the Lens of Care, and Care Anew through the Lens of Philosophy.”  In  Letters to Nel Noddings, Robert Lane, ed.  Teachers College Press, 2012.
“Reverence for Things Not Seen:  Implied Creators in Works of Art, and Implied Teachers in Experiential Pedagogy” In Reverence in Teaching: Remembering a Forgotten Virtue, A.G. Rud and Jim Garrison, eds. Paradigm Publications, 2012. (the collection is a winner of multiple awards)
“’No Child Left Behind’ or ‘Each Human Person Drawn Forward’?: Arendt, Jaspers, and the Thinking-
 Through of a New, Universalizable, Existential-Cosmopolitan Humanism,” Philosophy of
 Education, 2010.
“’Let Us Treat the People As If They Were Real’: Centering Democratic Education on Moral Noumena
 rather than on Measurable Phenomena,” Philosophical Studies in Education 41, 2010
“The Audacity of Thought:  Seeing Thinking as the Moral Virtue Pivotal to the Refounding of Democracy on a Moral Basis,” Philosophical Studies in Education 40, 2009.
“The Witch Hunt and the Awakening:  The Call of Conscience and the Dawn of Authentic Democrati Life,” Thresholds in Education, December 2008.

I am also particularly proud of a presentation I recently gave at the recent Meeting of the American Educational Research Association in San Francisco in April, 2013, “I Listen, Therefore I Become, and We Grow Together”—as it was the germ of many ideas for my new book.

Finally, my upcoming session for the Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English (November 2013, Boston) was chosen from among over 700 sessions and thousands of proposals as a “featured session”: “The TRUE ‘Common Core’: How Centering the Teaching of English on the Personal and Social Growth of Students Can Help Us Leverage the Common Core Standards toward Both Meaning and Achievement,” for which my contribution is titled, “The Heart of the English Teacher's Creed:  The I-Thou Relationship at the Center of the Universe of Discourse.”

  • English Department
  • Leonard Hall, Room 110
    421 North Walk
    Indiana, PA 15705-1094
  • Phone: 724-357-2261
  • Fax: 724-357-2265
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.