Posted July 27, 2023

Introducing: A Guide to Teaching Standard American English by Elisabeth Houston

An African American Barbie doll wearing a pink bathing suit floats in a green pool her head appearing in the lower left corner and legs extending to the top right of the image. The title of the book and partially deleted author name appear in the bottom right corner. The title is Standard American English. It is in a yellow hand written font and the author name reads EL_S_TH H_ST_ON

We are enthusiastically announcing the release of our newly published Litmus Teaching Guide, for Standard American English, the debut book by EL_S_TH H__ST_ON aka Elisabeth Houston, a writer and multidisciplinary artist, who brings her readers into the world of baby, a persona she has been developing in performance contexts for nearly a decade.

In performance, Houston instructs the audience to follow baby’s directions: share our intimate moments and thoughts via written notes, and press them into the venue’s walls. Put on masks (brown bags and farm animals). Commit to silence. baby reminds us that we are always allowed to say “no.”

 “SAE clearly addresses our cultural obsession with pleasure, sex, race, and money,” Houston shares in an interview with Ashaki Jackson for The Offing. Celebrity influence and fixation are featured throughout the text; baby is determined to look “just like gwynie (13)!” For a book launch in November, 2022 an image of Gwyneth Paltrow advertises the event. “It’s also about our addiction to violence.”


Teaching Guide

This new Teaching Guide invites readers and students to take on their own investigation of American values, through a series of writing, multimedia, and creative exercises. The Guide tasks its explorers to visit local news stands, write poems that include SAE inspired footnotes, and make digital and physical collages of baby’s environment.

The guide also offers an “Extending the Conversation ” section for readers to independently discover texts either suggested by Elisabeth Houston or adjacent resources that might open other research paths and creative experiments.

Our Litmus Teaching Guides are free online tools for readers, instructors, and students to support the study of works published by Litmus Press, O Books, and The Post-Apollo Press. The guides can be used in classrooms, reading groups, and for personal study. Previous iterations include guides on kari edwards, experimental performance scenarios, the works of Aja Couchois Duncan and more.