This introductory article argues that contemporary academic teaching contexts are filled with anxiety. Students enter the classroom with a host of uncertainties, while teachers often suffer the burden of personal and professional anxieties of their own. Although many of these are historically specific, rooted in particular political, economic, and ecological circumstances, the authors argue that they may be productively approached through the strategies outlined in this introduction and the articles of this cluster of articles. They advocate tackling the question of anxiety consciously, responsibly, and tactfully, guided both by teachers’ experiences and by their knowledge of theoretical approaches to course content. Drawing principally from affect theory, but also enfolding concepts from intersectional feminism, digital humanities, reader-response theory, and other critical methodologies, the authors share tactics for working with anxiety rather than striving to eliminate it or ignore it. They argue that, once we see our pedagogy as anxious, we begin to see opportunities to broach it as a subject that can productively engage with the core tenets of academic inquiry.

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