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With digitalculturebooks, the University of Michigan Press publishes innovative work in new media studies and digital humanities. We began in 2006 as a partnership between MLibrary and the Press, taking advantage of the skills and expertise of staff throughout Michigan Publishing. Our primary goal is to be an incubator for new publishing models in the humanities and social sciences.

Learning Legacies

Archive to Action through Women's Cross-Cultural Teaching
Sarah Ruffing Robbins
Examines pedagogy as a toolkit for social change, and the urgent need for cross-cultural collaborative teaching methods


Learning Legacies explores the history of cross-cultural teaching approaches, to highlight how women writer-educators used stories about their collaborations to promote community-building. Robbins demonstrates how educators used stories that resisted dominant conventions and expectations about learners to navigate cultural differences. Using case studies of educational initiatives on behalf of African American women, Native American children, and the urban poor, Learning Legacies promotes the importance of knowledge grounded in the histories and cultures of the many racial and ethnic groups that have always comprised America’s populace, underscoring the value of rich cultural knowledge in pedagogy by illustrating how creative teachers still draw on these learning legacies today.
“[Learning Legacies] combines knowledge about teacher training and the history of education in the United States gained from extensive research into many formal archives, numerous site visits, and interviews with educators, archivists and others.  Robbins’s own autoethnographic reflections also form a crucial and welcome element of her research.”
—Sandra A. Zagarell, Donald R. Longman Professor of English at Oberlin College and scholar of American Literature and Culture
“Robbins pushes the envelope on the normative uses and perspectives about the Archive, using literal archives of educational practice recorded in counter-narratives from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Educators will find value in using this book to help train emerging teachers to be reflective about their practice and for models of how to use texts, archives, and stories as powerful teaching tools . . . ”
—Timothy K. Eatman, Associate Professor of Higher Education, Syracuse University, Faculty Co-director Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life
Sarah Ruffing Robbins is a Lorraine Sherley Professor of Literature at Texas Christian University.

Praise / Awards

  • "Robbins did not coin the phrase learning legacy, which has appeared in
    discussions of everything from education to sustainability, but her application
    of it to cross-cultural educational archives is innovative and fruitful."
  • "I will never have a chance to spend time with the women who attended Spelman College in its very first years, or to visit Hull House right when it was opening, or to meet the Native American students who found ways to survive together as they resisted the boarding schools. But reading Learning Legacies: Archive to Action through Women’s Cross- Cultural Teaching, I felt connected to these remarkable people and to the scholars who have helped preserve and explain their archives. ... This is brilliant work."
    -- Legacy
  • "I am invigorated by Robbins’s excellent book, Learning Legacies. She makes clear how examples from the past have inspired pedagogical practices aimed at social justice for those who followed. Indeed, what is likely the most important aspect of Robbins’s book is her implicit invitation for readers like me to become part of the intercultural learning legacies she showcases in her book."
    -- Peitho
  • "Robbins’ greatest contribution in this book is her ability to move analysis beyond a passive stance, showing how archives can teach and inspire collaboration beyond their initial historical moment through the use of reflection. ... I see this book as a resource for any educator looking to incorporate historical voices into discussions on collaboration and social agency. This is not to say that the book promises any guaranteed solutions, but Robbins offers hopeful ground for cultivating a culture of care and empathy in the classroom. Such a movement towards imaginative social possibility is clearly called for in today’s political moment."
    -- Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 372pp.
  • 16 B&W illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2017
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07351-1

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  • $74.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2017
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05351-3

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  • $34.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2017
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-90070-1

Read Online
  • Audio Download
  • 2021
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-00408-9

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  • $9.99 U.S.