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is Professor Emeritus of English/English Didactics at the University of Agder, where she has taught English and American literature, culture and didactics for many years. She has developed courses in teacher education based on extensive reader-response research among students and learners of English at various levels. She has been editor of the online journal Nordic Journal of Modern Language Methodology.

SIGNE MARI WILAND

READING AND TEACHING ENGLISH LITERATURE

Reading and Teaching English Literature provides student teachers of English in their Master’s or Bachelor’s programmes with necessary and relevant insight to become good readers and teachers of English literature. The book aims at making the transition from being a student of literature to becoming a teacher of literature as smooth as possible. Student teachers will find a useful and fine balance between reader-friendly theoretical reflections and practical approaches to literature. Reader-response theories and research are central in Reading and Teaching English Literature. Firstly, the book presents a discussion of important reader-response theorists, and then takes up concepts used in the study of literature. Reading and Teaching English Literature exemplifies various genres used in the classroom through action research and practical teaching programmes. This book will be a valuable resource both for students of English and for practising teachers in primary and lower secondary school.

Wiland

READING AND TEACHING ENGLISH LITERATURE

Signe Mari Wiland

READING AND

TEACHING ENGLISH

LITERATURE

ISBN 978-82-02-49720-0

www.cda.no

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Signe Mari Wiland

Reading and Teaching English Literature How to Bridge the Gaps between Teacher Education and the English Classroom

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Contents Introduction.............................................................................................................. 9 Chapter 1 Reflections on Reading .......................................................................................... 15 Can Theories Support the Reader? ...................................................................... 16 Aesthetic and Efferent Attitudes: Process or End Product ....................... 17 The Temporal Experience: Reading as Event ............................................... 18 Levels of Reading .............................................................................................. 19 Symbolization and Resymbolization ............................................................. 23 Referential and Representational Use of Language: Reader Identity ..... 25 Strategies to Facilitate Reading ..................................................................... 27 Line by Line Reading ........................................................................................ 28 Top-down and Bottom-up Reading Strategies ............................................ 32 Schemata Theory: Patterns of Previous Reading Experiences ................. 38 CONCEPTS FOR READING AND ANALYSING LITERATURE: FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE ........................................................................... 45 Chapter 2 Space and Time ....................................................................................................... 47 Chronotopic Structure in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time ... 49 American History as Setting in The Secret Life of Bees ...................................... 53 Topographical Structure in Winnie-The-Pooh ...................................................... 56 Concluding Remarks ............................................................................................... 58 Chapter 3 Perspective and Voice or How to Tell a Story .................................................. 60 The Challenge of Focalization in The Secret Garden ........................................... 61 The Limited Point of View in “Eveline” ......................................................... 65

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contents

The First-Person Point of View in Skellig .............................................................. 66 Address or Audience as Perspective and Voice in Children’s Literature ....... 69 Concluding Remarks ............................................................................................... 71 Chapter 4 The Importance of Plot and Action .................................................................... 73 Looking for Action in The Crucible ......................................................................... 74 The Desire for Plot and Action in Books for Children ....................................... 77 Concluding Remarks ............................................................................................... 81 Chapter 5 Characters: Adults, Children or Animals as Heroes and Heroines ............. 83 Children and Adults in Texts for Adults and Children ...................................... 84 A Didactic Experiment: Describing People in Real Life and in Literature ........................................................................................................... 88 Direct and Indirect Characterization .................................................................... 92 Flat and Round Characters ............................................................................. 93 Animal Characters ........................................................................................... 96 The Tragic Hero ................................................................................................ 100 Concluding Remarks ............................................................................................... 101 Chapter 6 Themes and Ideas ................................................................................................... 102 Theme and Motif ..................................................................................................... 103 Suitable and Unsuitable Themes .......................................................................... 105 War and Conflicts ............................................................................................ 108 Taboos ................................................................................................................ 112 Intertextual and Interartefactual Links ................................................................ 117 Concluding Remarks ............................................................................................... 123 APPROACHING GENRE: FROM PRACTICE TO THEORY ............................. 125 Chapter 7 Picture Books ........................................................................................................... 127 Practical Encounters with Picture Stories ........................................................... 129 Illustrated Stories: Aspects of Response and the Function of Pictures ......... 131 Didactic Reflection ........................................................................................... 133 Basic Concepts, Taste and Sound in Mr Rabbit and the Lovely Present .... 135

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contents

Didactic Reflection ........................................................................................... 139 Iconotexts in Class .................................................................................................. 140 Creating Your Own Christmas Story ............................................................ 140 Didactic Reflection ........................................................................................... 145 Introducing the Language System in In the Attic and The Snowy Day ............. 146 Didactic Reflection ........................................................................................... 150 Graphic Novels as a Resource in Foreign Language Classes ........................... 153 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck and Reading Extensively for Pleasure .............................................................................................................. 154 Elements to Ponder in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck ............................. 155 Concluding Remarks ............................................................................................... 157 Chapter 8 Nursery Rhymes and Songs ................................................................................. 158 Nursery Rhymes in Norwegian Schools .............................................................. 160 Singing with Students and Children .............................................................. 161 Pronunciation .................................................................................................... 162 Grammar Structures and Sounds .................................................................. 164 Culture Lessons ................................................................................................ 165 Ballads and Songs .................................................................................................... 167 Music as Pleasure and Culture ...................................................................... 167 Interdisciplinary Approach to the Study of Traditional Songs ................. 168 Didactic Reflections and Concluding Remarks .................................................. 172 Chapter 9 Drama and Role Play .............................................................................................. 173 Dramatizing Charlotte’s Web: Staging Scenes from the Book .................. 174 Post-Performance Reflections ....................................................................... 178 Post-Performance Tasks: ................................................................................. 178 The Aesthetic Dimension of Language Learning ............................................... 178 The Zone of Proximal Development ............................................................. 181 To Be Immersed in Language ................................................................................. 183 Concluding Remarks ............................................................................................... 185 Chapter 10 Poetry ........................................................................................................................ 187 Reading Poems ......................................................................................................... 188 Writing Poems .......................................................................................................... 189 Music and the Initial Stages of the Workshop ............................................ 190

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contents

Free Writing ....................................................................................................... 191 Concluding Remarks ............................................................................................... 199 Chapter 11 Using Film in the Classroom ................................................................................ 201 Comparison as an Entry into the World of Oz ................................................... 202 Reflection Questions and Comments on the Book and the Film ............. 203 Historical Context Reflected in the Book and the Film .............................. 211 Music: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching Film ........................... 213 Concluding Remarks ............................................................................................... 216 Chapter 12 Novels and Stretching Schemata ........................................................................ 217 A Wizard of Earthsea ................................................................................................ 218 Geography as Schemata ................................................................................. 218 Systemic Level versus Schemata Level ........................................................ 220 Interpretation or Stretching Learners’ Schemata .............................................. 231 The Moral Aspects of Schemata ................................................................... 233 Concept Schemata and Concluding Remarks .................................................... 237 Coda ........................................................................................................................... 239 Bibliography ............................................................................................................. 243 Index .......................................................................................................................... 251

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Chapter 3

Perspective and Voice or How to Tell a Story When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle, everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It was true, too. She had a little thin face and a little thin body, thin light hair and a sour expression. Her hair was yellow, and her face was yellow because she had been born in India and had always been ill in one way or another. Her father had held a position under the English Government and had always been busy and ill himself, and her mother had been a great beauty who cared only to go to parties and amuse herself with gay people. (Burnett, The Secret Garden 7)

This chapter will examine perspective and voice as a writer’s means of expanding your reading experience. The question of voice and perspective is usually addressed as part of the issue broadly referred to as point of view, even though this concept has been substituted with a plethora of varying concepts to cover this complex phenomenon in contemporary literary criticism. How a story is told or the mode established by the author has generated books and articles written by the most distinguished theorists in the field of literary studies.19 So how can you, student teachers, best be equipped to face the demanding task of distinguishing between a story and a narrative and between the author, the narrator and the voices of the characters in a novel? Is it necessary to be aware of these subtle layers to enjoy literature? Are you required to be familiar with the different concepts used in contemporary narratology to be good teachers? 19 Dorrit Cohn, Wayne C. Booth and Gerard GÊnette represent only a minority of scholars who have contributed in this field.

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perspective and voice or how to tell a story

As a reader you would greatly profit from a good overview of central concepts regarding narrative perspective and voice in order to become a confident reader of literature. Since a story’s potential to impress or even manipulate the reader lies in the way it is told, and because children’s literature and young-adult fiction challenge some of the traditional concepts or modes of narration, student teachers should be informed. Unless we address this issue, we might easily fail to see the greatness of a novel, short story or poem and be unable to open the doors to literature for young learners at the beginning of their reading careers. Let us have a look at perspective and voice in one of the most popular children’s books in English, also cherished and loved by adult readers and student teachers: The Secret Garden.

The Challenge of Focalization in The Secret Garden The opening sentence of this novel,“When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselth­ waite Manor to live with her uncle, everybody said she was the most dis­ agreeable-looking child ever seen” (The Secret Garden 7), gives an extremely brief, but negative, introduction of Mary to the readers. Whose opinion is communicated in such a blunt manner: Frances Hodgson Burnett, the author, the narrator or a character in the book? Who is this “everybody” whose indirect piece of information is responsible for this presentation of Mary? From the context of the first sentence we are likely to believe that “everybody” is the people who live at Misselthwaite Manor and who meet Mary for the first time when she comes as an orphan from India to live with her uncle in Yorkshire. Is it simply a rumour from unfriendly people who dislike having another person to attend to and feed? The information is forwarded by the narrator of this passage, who in the next sentence emphasizes her credibility by adding a seemingly objective statement: “It was true, too”, as if she has also observed the little girl’s “tyrannical and selfish” behaviour and “sickly, fretful, ugly” appearance (7). The introductory passage further contains a minute description of all of Mary’s unsympathetic mental and physical qualities. However, the narrator makes sure that some sort of psychological explanation is given by stating that Mary’s mother “had not wanted a little girl at all, and when Mary was born she handed her over to the care of an Ayah” (7), 61

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the importance of plot and action

n tio Ac

Ac ti Ris ing

ing

Exposition

ll Fa

on

Climax

Denouement

Freytag’s pyramid

In The Crucible this structure is mirrored in the setting of the different acts or scenes the play is divided into. We are exposed to the conflict in the opening scene in Reverend Parris’ house, where his young niece is bedridden with a mysterious ailment nobody can explain, with the exception perhaps of learned theologians and judges in New England, educated at Harvard. Not only Parris’ niece, but also Abigail, the leading female character and seductress, and other girls are involved in a nightly ritual in the woods, where the Devil is summoned by the naked girls to predict their amorous future. They have been conjuring the Devil with the help of Tituba, the Carribbean servant girl. The conflict is presented as how to save their skins from severe punishment for an activity that might lead the girls to the pillory and even the gallows. In addition, the adultery between Abigail, the brain behind the rescue campaign, and Proctor, the hero of the play, is played out on the foil of the witch hunt soon to pollute the entire village. To make the love story less provoking and more acceptable within the structure of the play, Abigail’s age has been changed from eleven to seventeen and Proctor’s age from sixty to his mid-thirties. From the private sphere of the Parris household, we move into Proctor’s home where the legal institution intrudes on the privacy of the home and turns this conflict into something bigger. The action rises as Hale enters the house with all his learned books and background on witchcraft to seek out the Devil and cleanse the community of his evil deeds. Through the court 75

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chapter 4

hearings the action continues to rise as the hearings expose hidden conflicts that have nothing to do with religion, between the inhabitants, who take this opportunity to spread slander about each other for sheer profit. Climax is reached as Proctor’s wife lies in court about his affair with Abigail (which Proctor already has confessed) to save him, an act that instead condemns him to death. The critical Proctor and some of the pillars of the community are convicted and will be hanged. We follow Proctor into prison, into solitary confinement, to await his fate which is pending now between confessing to witchcraft in order to save his skin but “lose his name”, and denying it and still being hanged for it. The action falls as we await the outcome of this struggle of conscience. Proctor’s role as a tragic hero may be questioned as a result of his affair with Abigail, but his integrity in the midst of the moral dilemma and the choice of going to the gallows as an innocent victim make up the dramatic denouement or resolution of the play.22 We, as viewers and readers of the play, are provoked by his sorry fate, but purged through his choice of truth and the subsequent hanging of an innocent man who leaves behind his pregnant wife with three other children. This drama still has an enormous emotional effect on today’s readers and viewers. The structure of the four acts may be presented in the following schematic form.23 • Act 1 – Rev. Samuel Parris’ house – a small upstairs bedroom – the privacy of the bedroom – the blame motif • Act 2 – John Proctor’s house – the common room – the intrusion of the court motif (Mary Warren as an official of the court; Hale on court business; Cheever with a warrant to arrest Elizabeth) • Act 3 – the vestry room of the Salem meeting house – from the private to the public sphere – the General Court – the assessment of reliability motif (the accused and the accusers) • Act 4 – jail – the loneliness of the cell – the public place of punishment – the confession of guilt motif

22 The tragic hero will be discussed in the section about characters. 23 This structure is pointed at in Bernard F. Dukore, “The Dramatic Structure of The Crucible” in Readings on The Crucuble, Thomas Siebold, ed., (San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999) 107-114.

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chapter 7

and a colony of beetles and a cool, quiet place to rest and think.

Oram, In the Attic

Picture books constitute the very first reading or ‘looking’ material in book form that babies and small children are given. The likeness of the pictures to the world around them is an attraction and evokes the pleasure of ­recognition, often defined as the mimetic function of pictures (Nikolajeva and Scott, How Picturebooks Work). In addition these books help small children learn their first words and phrases in their mother tongue. Children’s preference for picture books continues through childhood, and the great variation in the relative balance between text and pictures makes this genre a valuable and natural resource for young English learners. An interesting newcomer often considered a separate genre, the graphic novel has also become very popular for readers of all ages and will be included in this chapter. In the following sections, suggested approaches based on some selected picture stories will be presented and discussed. Didactic reflection and references to theories induced from the practical examples will be offered in connection with the treatment of the stories. At the end of the chapter some concluding remarks will be given. 128

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picture books

Practical Encounters with Picture Stories To familiarize you with the genre of picture stories, you as a student, should be introduced to practical work on various types of stories using texts and pictures. This work may have a lasting effect on your own reading and encourage you to introduce the stories in the primary or lower secondary school classroom, as their value has been documented in research on this genre.39 The following guidelines for group work have been used with great success over many years, and student teachers have since been inspired to try out these stories in teaching practice. The selected stories can be found on the Internet or in separate picture books (see bibliography). In addition, most of the stories have been transmediated into films or animated stories available online. According to the number of students, the class can be divided into groups of three, and the work implies both skimming techniques and close reading techniques. Below some suggested stories for group work are listed, followed by questions and guidelines for work done at home and at university or college.

Author

Title

Group no

John Burningham

Mr Gumpy’s Outing

Group 1

2. Anthony Browne

Willy and Hugh

Group 1

3. Charlotte Zolotow

Mr Rabbit and the Lovely Present

Group 2

4. Susanna Gretz

It’s Your Turn, Roger!

Group 2

5. Jeanne Willis

Dr. Xargle’s Book of Earthlets

Group 3

6. Dyan Sheldon

The Whales’ Song

Group 3

7.

Pugwash and the Buried Treasure

Group 4

1.

John Ryan

Sette linje ##Sje

39 See Annika Kolb, “Extensive Reading of Picturebooks in Primary EFL”, Eva Burwitz-Melzer, “Approaching Literary and Language Competence: Picturebooks and Graphic Novels in the EFL Classroom” and Carola Hecke, “Developing Intercultural Competence by Studying Graphic Narratives” in Children’s Literature in Second Language Education, eds. Bland, Janice and Lütge, Christiane, (London: Bloomsbury, 2013). Anna Birketveit,“Picturebooks”, and Hege Emma Rimmereide,“Graphic Novels in EFL Learning” offer didactic approaches to the genre in Literature for the English Classroom: Theory into Practice, eds. Birketveit, Anna and Williams, Gweno, (Bergen: Fagbokforlaget, 2013).

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Chapter 10

Poetry The Blossom Merry Merry Sparrow Under leaves so green A happy Blossom Sees you swift as arrow Seek your cradle narrow Near my Bosom. Pretty Pretty Robin Under leaves so green A happy Blossom Hears you sobbing sobbing, Pretty Pretty Robin, Near my Bosom.

1001

Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience

Figur av di marg

In An Introduction to Children’s Literature Peter Hunt quotes Brian Morse who states that poetry is the genre that escapes “neat categorization… and has become public property.” Even children can write poetry (9). In c­ hapter 2 we have seen how the line by line method can successfully be applied to poetry, and how this approach is suitable for all readers regardless of age. However, there is more to poetry than this special approach, as poetry seems to be the genre that student teachers fear the most and feel profoundly intimidated by. In this chapter you will be equipped with ideas, attitudes and tools to inspire the pupils and motivate them to love poetry, 187

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poetry

make an impression of darkness and doom on all listeners, sounding Poe’s obsession with the gothic and macabre and anticipating his sad life story and early death. A completely different atmosphere is created by the recital of the optimistic self-fulfilment of the new American in Whitman’s “There Was a Child Went Forth”, with its conversational style in free verse and its innovative and intentional breaking of language norms. It invites us all to join Whitman on his journey across the vast continent of America. For you, as student teachers, an added overview of philosophies and life stories is necessary to profit the most from these poems. However, trying your hands at the real skill of poetry writing will create a lasting respect for this art form and instil in you a pleasure a professor through her lectures perhaps seldom can achieve. Last but not least, the activity has great didactic value since it can be transferred into and adjusted to the primary and lower secondary classroom. Let us now turn to the poetry workshop as it was staged for a group of student teachers.

Writing Poems To stage an efficient and rewarding poetry workshop, a session of at least three hours is needed. The physical context should be inviting and relaxing with the affective filter lowered to a satisfactory level (Krashen, Second Language Acquisition). The following instruction gives a good outline of the structure behind this activity, which can be applied at any school level. To exemplify the writing session and discuss the principles behind it, action research from one of the workshops with student teachers will be included here. Poetry Workshop: 1. Music to relax and lower affective filter. Close your eyes. 2. You are out walking in an early 19th century American town… Boston, New York, Washington, etc. or the landscape surrounding it. It is early spring. Visualize the scene. 3. At a distance you see a figure resembling Walt Whitman with his long beard. Or is it Poe or simply a common man sitting on a rock with his notebook?

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Reading and Teaching English literature bla i bok  
Reading and Teaching English literature bla i bok