Learning with Literature in the EFL Classroom

by Werner Delanoy (Volume editor) Maria Eisenmann (Volume editor) Frauke Matz (Volume editor)
©2015 Edited Collection 394 Pages


Learning with Literature in the EFL Classroom provides a comprehensive, in-depth and state-of-the-art introduction to literature learning in EFL contexts. Paying attention to both theoretical and practical concerns, the study focuses on a wide range of literary genres, different age and ability groups and new topics for literature learning. The 18 contributions discuss present-day challenges for literature teaching in the light of current theoretical debates and offer a balance between theory and practice by combining theoretical input with practical work in the classroom. The volume offers many suggestions for the future of the field and has a varied readership in mind, comprising language teachers, university students and academics.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction: Learning with Literature in the EFL Classroom
  • 1 Volume Rationale
  • 2 The Contributions in this Volume
  • Bibliography
  • Part 1: Theories of Literature Teaching
  • Literature Teaching and Learning: Theory and Practice
  • 1 Literature Teaching/Learning: A Theory for the Present
  • 1.1 Literature Teaching/Learning: A Very Brief Historical Overview
  • 1.2 Reader-Response Criticism (RRC) as a Starting Position
  • 1.3 Why Literature Now?
  • 2 A Practice-oriented Theory of Literature Teaching/Learning
  • 2.1 Theme, Text(s) and Task(s)
  • 2.2 “I”, “We”, Teacher(s) and Learner(s)
  • 2.3 Context(s)
  • 3 A Short Story Project
  • 3.1 Evoking “A Family Supper”
  • 3.2 Interpreting “A Family Supper”
  • 3.3 Text Ensembles as “Didactic Texts”
  • 3.4 Intertextuality as Discourse and Genre Mixing
  • 4 Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Primary Literature
  • Secondary Literature
  • Literary Literacy and Intercultural Competence: Furthering Students’ Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes
  • 1 Literary Literacy and Competence Orientation
  • 1.1 Seven Aspects of Competence Development via Literature
  • 1.2 Four Levels of Intercultural Learning through Literature
  • 2 Literature and/as Critical Incidents
  • 2.1 The Iceberg Model
  • 2.2 Intercultural Competence and Literary Competence
  • 2.3 Literary Examples of Critical Incidents
  • Bibliography
  • Part 2: Literature Learning at Primary Level
  • A Picture (Book) is Worth a Thousand Words: Picture Books in the EFL Primary Classroom
  • 1 The Potential of Storytelling with Picture Books
  • 1.1 Choice of Appropriate Stories
  • 1.2 Stories and Storytelling: Cognitive and Affective Development
  • 2 Bottom-up and Top-down Processes
  • 3 Stories and Storytelling in the EFL Classroom – Methodology
  • 3.1 Pre-storytelling Phase
  • 3.1.1 While-storytelling Phase
  • 3.1.2 Post-storytelling Phase
  • 4 Examples for the Classroom
  • 4.1 Where’s Caterpillar?
  • 4.1.1 Pre-storytelling Phase
  • 4.1.2 While-storytelling Phase
  • 4.1.3 Post-storytelling Phase
  • 4.2 If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
  • 4.2.1 Pre-storytelling Phase
  • 4.2.2 While-storytelling Phase
  • 4.2.3 Post-storytelling Phase
  • 5 Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Performing Poems in the Primary School
  • 1 Pleasurable Repetition Characterises the Early Language of Childhood and Children’s Literature
  • 1.1 Protoconversations
  • 1.2 Pattern-Matching Neural Processing
  • 2 Play, Performance and Storyworlds
  • 2.1 Transmitting Cultural Knowledge with Poems
  • 2.2 From Anarchy to Empathy
  • 2.3 Practice Makes Perfect
  • 3 Grammatical Categories Acquired as a Template for the Future
  • Bibliography
  • Part 3: Literature Learning at Intermediate Level
  • Poetry in the Intermediate EFL Classroom
  • 1 Teaching Aims and Learning Objectives
  • 2 Practical Examples and Methodology
  • 2.1 Carl Sandburg, “Fog” (1916)
  • 2.2 Shel Silverstein, “Forgotten Language” (1974)
  • 2.3 Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (1923)
  • 3 Concluding Remarks
  • 4 Further Texts
  • Bibliography
  • Teaching Young Adult Fiction
  • 1 Defining Young Adult Fiction
  • 2 Reasons for Teaching YA Fiction in the EFL Classroom
  • 2.1 Reflection and Personal Development
  • 2.2 Changing Perspective, Empathy, Intercultural and Transcultural Competences
  • 2.3 Student Motivation through Authenticity
  • 3 Being Spoilt for Choice: Choosing Suitable Texts
  • 3.1 Teachers as Readers
  • 3.2 Students’ Age, Language Level and Curricular Requirements
  • 3.3 Which YA Fiction not to Choose
  • 3.4 Criteria for Choosing YA Fiction
  • 4 Teaching YA Fiction in the EFL Classroom
  • 4.1 Providing Scaffolding to Support the Learning Process
  • 4.2 Involving Learners: Learner-centred Tasks and Action-oriented and Product-orientated Approaches
  • 5 Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Websites (all last accessed August 2014)
  • Playful Learning with Short Plays
  • 1 Plays as Scripts
  • 2 Fostering Competence through the Use of Dramatic Texts and Methods
  • 3 Suggestions for the classroom
  • 3.1 Before Acting
  • 3.2 Sensitising for Non-Verbal Communication with ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’ in Year 5
  • 3.3 Character Constellation and Change of Perspective with ‘The Wonderful Smells’ in Year 6
  • 3.4 Aesthetic Learning with ‘Top Of The Mops’ in Year 8
  • 3.5 After Acting
  • 4 Concluding Remarks
  • Bibliography
  • Part 4: Literature Learning at Higher Level
  • Teaching Narrative Competence: American Short Stories in the EFL Classroom
  • 1 Analytical and Creative Approaches
  • 2 Story Sequences
  • 3 Bernard Malamud, “The Magic Barrel”
  • 4 Outlook
  • Bibliography
  • Why Read a Shakespeare Play in Class?
  • 1 Many Reasons Why …
  • 2 The Tudor World
  • 3 Shakespeare’s English
  • 4 The Elizabethan Stage
  • 5 Shakespeare’s Life and Works
  • 6 Conclusion
  • 7 The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
  • Bibliography
  • The American Dream: New Approaches to an Old Topic
  • 1 The Concept of the American Dream
  • 2 Homeownership and the American Dream
  • 3 The Commodified Dream
  • 4 The American Dream in Pop Music
  • 5 Ethnic American Dreams
  • 6 The Ingredients of the Dream
  • 7 Outlook
  • Bibliography
  • Crossovers – Postcolonial Literature and Transcultural Learning
  • 1 Postcolonial Studies and Postcolonial Literatures
  • 2 Writing Back
  • 3 Teaching the New English Cultures and Literatures
  • 3.1 Globalisation, Transculturality, and Cultural Hybridity
  • 3.2 Integrative Model for Cultural Studies
  • 4 Why Postcolonial Literatures in the EFL Classroom?
  • 5 An Example for Teaching Postcolonial Literature
  • 6 Conclusion
  • 7 Further Readings
  • Bibliography
  • Primary Literature
  • Secondary Literature
  • Opportunities and Challenges for Transcultural Learning and Global Education via Literature
  • 1 Global Issues and Literature
  • 2 Teaching/Learning Goals and Competences
  • 3 Insights and Issues
  • 4 Texts
  • 5 Tasks
  • Bibliography
  • Primary Literature
  • Secondary Literature
  • Alternative Worlds – Alternative Texts: Teaching (Young Adult) Dystopian Novels
  • 1 Dystopian Fiction in the EFL Classroom – a Brief Overview
  • 1.1 Promoting Political Awareness and Fostering Trans- and Intercultural Competences
  • 1.2 A Brief Historical Overview of Dystopias Outside and Inside the EFL Classroom
  • 2 Teaching Dystopian Fiction in the 21st Century
  • 2.1 Dystopian Fiction and Global Matters
  • 2.2 Dystopian Fiction and Ecodidactics
  • 3 Arguing a Case for Young Adult Dystopian Novels
  • 3.1 Fluid Modern Times and a Changed Teenage Bildungsroman
  • 3.2 Glimpses of Hope as Starting Points
  • 3.3 Choosing Suitable Texts as Class Readers
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Primary Literature
  • Secondary Literature
  • Part 5: New Approaches and Future Perspectives for Literature Learning
  • Teaching Multimodal Novels
  • 1 Multimodality and the Novel
  • 2 Affordances of Semiotic Modes in the Multimodal Youth Novel
  • 2.1 Cartoons and Drawings in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
  • 2.2 Film and Video in Monster and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
  • 2.3 Mapping in The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet
  • 3 Multiliterate Reading
  • Bibliography
  • Primary Literature
  • Secondary Literature
  • Narrating the ‘Truth’: Using Autographics in the EFL Classroom
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Verbal Autobiographies and Autographics
  • 3 Mary M. Talbot’s Dotter of her Father’s Eyes
  • 4 Comics in Language Learning – Raison d’être of a Medium
  • 4.1 Language
  • 4.2 Intercultural Communicative Competence
  • 4.3 Gender
  • 4.4 Multiliteracy
  • 5 Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Primary Literature
  • Secondary Literature
  • Web Sources (all last accessed August 2014)
  • Performative Approaches and Innovative Methods
  • 1 Why We Need Literature
  • 2 What We Teach Literature for
  • 3 How We Can Teach Literature in the EFL Classroom
  • 4 Performance, Creativity, and Innovation Make a Difference
  • 5 Let’s Talk About School Practice
  • 6 Introduction to the Topic: Growing up Native American
  • 6.1 Pre-reading Tasks
  • 6.1.1 Pre-reading Task 1: Predicting What the Text is About
  • 6.1.2 Pre-reading Task 2: Building up Background Knowledge
  • 6.2 While-reading Tasks
  • 6.2.1 While-reading Task 1: Drawing/Working with Graphics
  • 6.2.2 While-reading Task 2: Pantomime
  • 6.2.3 While-reading Task 3: Role-playing
  • 6.2.4 While-reading Task 4: Simulation
  • 6.3 Post-reading Tasks
  • 6.3.1 Literature Blogs
  • 6.3.2 Digital Storytelling with GoAnimate
  • 6.3.3 Book Trailers with MovieMaker
  • 6.3.4 Writing Assignments with Titanpad
  • 7 Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Primary Literature
  • Secondary Literature
  • Approaches to Plurilingual Literature Teaching in the EFL Classroom
  • 1 Topic Relevance and Fundamentals
  • 1.1 Multilingualism as a Cultural Resource for the EFL Classroom
  • 1.2 Multiculturalism as a Resource for the EFL Classroom
  • 1.3 Plurilingual Literature
  • 2 Aims and Literacies of Plurilingual Literature Teaching
  • 2.1 Reasons for Plurilingual Literature Teaching
  • 2.2 Literacies and Aims
  • a. Plurilingual Literature can Foster the Development of Plurilingual Literacies
  • b. Plurilingual Literature can Foster the Development of Specific Literary-aesthetic Literacies
  • c. Plurilingual Literature can Foster the Development of Transcultural and Global Literacies and Create ‘Border Literacies’
  • 3 Teaching Methodology
  • 3.1 Reception: Teaching Ideas to Understand Plurilingual Literature
  • 3.2 Production: Creative Writing Scenarios
  • 4 Further Reading
  • Bibliography
  • Teaching Games – Video Games in Educational Contexts
  • 1 Press Start to Begin – Why Video Games?
  • 2 Character Creation – Understanding Digital Natives
  • 3 Game Away – the Power of Games to Teach
  • 4 Fail and Reload – Models of the Educational Use of Video Games
  • 4.1 Method 1: Commercial Games in Class
  • 4.2 Method 2: Educational Games in Class
  • 4.3 Method 3: The Gamification of Education
  • 5 Roll the Credits – Videogames Must Become Part of Education
  • Bibliography
  • List of Contributors

| 7 →

Learning with Literature in the EFL Classroom

Werner Delanoy, Maria Eisenmann & Frauke Matz

Abstract The aim of this book is to provide a comprehensive, in-depth and state-of-the-art introduction to literature learning in EFL contexts, with equal attention to both theoretical and practical concerns. Indeed, this volume includes contributions focusing on a wide range of literary genres, different age and ability groups, new topics for literature learning alongside the tried and tested, and with many suggestions for the future of the field. Moreover, the different articles aim to facilitate access to and to provide in-depth information on topic-relevant issues. In the 18 contributions, present-day challenges for literature and language learning are discussed in the light of current theoretical debates. Finally, a balance is sought between theory and practice in order to constructively combine state-of-the-art theoretical input with practical work in the classroom. As for its addressees, this book has a varied readership in mind, comprising language teachers, university students and academics.

1 Volume Rationale

Literature learning in EFL can look back upon a long history. Initially, such learning was focused on canonized texts (e.g. William Shakespeare, the Romantic poets, fiction by Charles Dickens or George Eliot) with the learner treated as a mere recipient of expert knowledge. Following the pedagogical practices of classical philology, translation was the preferred method to approach literary texts in language learning. With the advent of reader response in literary criticism and the communicative approach in language pedagogy, the learner’s role was redefined as a co-creator of meanings, and in ELT attention was drawn to the communicative possibilities inherent in literary texts and literature-related tasks. With the (inter)-cultural turn this focus has widened to invite engagement with the socio- and intercultural dimensions of literature and language learning. Recently, the advent of the new media, a broader definition of what constitutes literature, new socio-cultural challenges, and the inclusion of neglected reader groups have shifted attention to multimodal texts and tasks, transcultural and global issues, books for children and young adults, and to primary and lower secondary learners as readers of literary texts. ← 7 | 8 →

As for recent developments in theory building, a shift has taken place from ‘theory to post-theory’1 in both literature and language teaching. Whereas in the past different theories vied with each other for superiority over other positions, a post-theoretical stance aims to combine different perspectives. Such a stance is anything but a-theoretical, and its predilection for theory mixing stems from the belief that the complexities of literature and language learning demand a multi-perspectival approach. Moreover, such a position is still informed by a principled theoretical foundation. In this volume the foundation for teaching and learning literature is provided by a concept of reader response criticism which pays equal attention to texts and their respective readers, that is to say to the communicative acts performed by both. At the same time, power-critical, intertextual, form-focused, performative and multimodal perspectives are taken on board. Thus, the communicative possibilities and constraints of text-reader/learner relationships can be discussed in the light of new socio-cultural and educational challenges. Indeed, a similar trend can be noted in theory building concerning language learning. A good example is the book by Patsy M. Lightbown and Nina Spada How Languages are Learned (2006). Here, a case is made for a communicative orientation. Yet, in line with post-theoretical approaches this orientation also includes behaviorist, innatist and cognitivist perspectives to offer teachers a rich repertory of approaches to meet the specific needs and interests of specific learner groups in specific learning contexts. Summing up, the present volume is post-theoretical in approach with a particular focus on literature and language as communication.

This volume is informed by a liberal humanist understanding of literature and language learning. In other words, literature is seen as a potentially empowering discourse which can help learners develop creative abilities, critical thinking and empathy for other people. We are aware that such a position is controversial, considering the harsh criticism of liberal humanist concepts as put forward by proponents of power-critical or post-structuralist perspectives. A post-theoretical approach, however, does not ignore or deliberately exclude such criticism. Instead, liberal humanist perspectives have been redefined in the light of such comment. As a result, such criticism has led to a more ambivalent understanding of literature, and it has sharpened awareness of the socio-cultural shaping of human beings (cf. Delanoy 2002; Said 2003). At the ← 8 | 9 → same time, it must be stressed that there is an increasing amount of empirical evidence that literature can indeed foster critical thinking and empathy for other people. Alexa Weik von Mossner (2014: 4 cont., 14) refers to the work of cognitive psychologists (e.g. Antonio Damasio and Joseph Le Doux) and experts in affective narratology (e.g. Colm Hogan) who have pointed out that the vivacity and the emotional appeal of literature can trigger strong emotional responses in readers and influence their understanding of themselves, others, and the world in critical and empathetic ways. Such a position links back to the approach suggested by Lothar Bredella (2012: 69), who emphasizes the potential for cognitive and affective learning from literature in ELT contexts.

In the past 30 years the concept of literature has undergone significant revision in English Studies. According to Peter Widdowson (1999: 37), a distinction can be made between Literature and literature. For Widdowson “literature exists independently” whereas “Literature is only created by criticism”. In other words, it lies in the power of the institutions concerned with literature to include/exclude and also to privilege certain textual practices. In line with a post-theoretical perspective, the concept of Literature has certainly become more inclusive of different practices. Thus, literature written for children and young adults has found its way into critical debates in literature didactics and academic literary criticism. Furthermore, multimodal texts and film have also been taken on board. Similarly, in English Studies perspectives formerly dominated by a focus on the United States and the United Kingdom have been complemented by the New English Literatures, coming from places as diverse as Australia, Canada, India, Kenya or Malaysia, and from writers with multicultural affiliations. Such developments have opened up a wealth of new possibilities for literature, language and cultural learning. It has shifted attention to new addressees (children, young adults) and their learning needs and interests. In addition, the range of opportunities for cultural learning has increased significantly. Also, such development is indicative of the dynamic and open-ended character of this concept of Literature. To capture this dynamism, the present volume also goes beyond the current understanding of Literature by extending its scope of interest to practices (computer games) so far excluded from such discussion.

Summing up, this volume is informed by a post-theoretical perspective with a particular emphasis on the potential for communicative learning offered by literature in EFL. Moreover, a concept of literature is advocated which is inclusive of different text types, open to different reader/learner groups, and dynamic in composition. This concept goes clearly beyond what used to be perceived as the core cultures and literatures in English Studies. ← 9 | 10 →

2 The Contributions in this Volume

This volume is structured as follows. Starting with a detailed discussion of the theoretical framework underlying this book, the focus then shifts to the main literary genres (poetry, narrative texts, drama), which are discussed in terms of different age groups, ranging from primary to upper secondary levels. As for the text-types covered and the learner groups considered, a developmental perspective is suggested starting with picture books, continuing with more demanding children’s literature and texts for young adult readers, and finally leading up to complex literary works. For all these levels a variety of learning tasks is discussed including creative, performative and analytical approaches to literature. Moreover, the focus is on a wide range of Anglophone cultures and their literatures. Finally, some perspectives are introduced which go beyond current practices in literature learning in EFL. These practices include plurilingual approaches to literature learning, and texts (e.g. computer games) which have not previously been discussed as literature.

In the first part theories informing the present volume are introduced. In Literature Teaching and Learning: Theory and Practice Werner Delanoy presents an approach which dialogically links up reader-response criticism with approaches as varied as stylistics, narratology, ideology criticism, and intertextual studies. Moreover, a practice-oriented model is suggested to highlight the communicative conditions active in ELT learning contexts. Finally, a short-story project is discussed to connect the theories portrayed with classroom practice. In the following contribution, Literary Literacy and Intercultural Competence: Furthering Students’ Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes, Laurenz Volkmann shifts attention to certain aspects which go beyond or are only marginally addressed in the first article. In his contribution, intercultural competence models are combined with models of developing literary literacy to show how literature can help develop linguistic, cognitive and attitudinal capabilities in language learning contexts. As for his choice of practical examples, Volkmann uses a multimodal text (a cartoon) and a poem to metonymically draw attention to the wide range of text types available for literature learning. Indeed, the first two contributions should be read as complementary, that is to say, together they aim to provide a comprehensive and differentiated introduction to the field.

In the second part of this volume the focus is on literature learning at primary school level. In A Picture (Book) is Worth a Thousand Words: Picture Books in the EFL Primary Classroom, Margit Hempel highlights the potential of picture books for developing literary and visual literacy plus communicative competence in the language classroom. Moreover, she emphasizes the ← 10 | 11 → cognitive, emotional and motivational possibilities which picture books offer to young language learners at primary level. This essay is followed by Janice Bland’s Performing Poems in the Primary School. In her article, Bland makes a case for a holistic approach to language and literature learning which is both pleasurable and educational in orientation. She provides a wealth of concrete examples which also show how lexical patterns and grammatical categories can be internalized through memorizing poems.

The following section charts the transition from primary to upper secondary levels. In Poetry in the Intermediate EFL Classroom, Carsten Albers takes a particular interest in the years following primary education. Albers distinguishes lower, middle and higher intermediate levels, for each of which he defines linguistic, literary, cognitive, emotional and creative learning aims. He illustrates his approach using three well-known poems which speak directly to these age groups, combining cognitive approaches with creative and individualized tasks to explore the methodological possibilities suitable for intermediate-level learner groups. This contribution is followed by Teaching Young Adult Fiction by Frauke Matz and Anne Stieger. Their article documents how the genre of young adult fiction has developed in the past 30 years and how teachers can be aided in their choice of suitable texts. Moreover, the authors highlight the possibilities this genre offers for developing competencies such as perspective taking, empathy or transcultural awareness. Also, suggestions are made for scaffolding the learning processes with the help of learner-centred tasks and product-oriented approaches. This section then continues with Carola Surkamp’s Playful Learning with Short Plays. She makes a case for an action-oriented teaching approach to bring texts alive in the language classroom. With the help of three short plays, she shows how drama activities can enhance language, literary, social and cultural learning at early and middle intermediate levels. With her drama-based approach Surkamp introduces a concept of language learning which is also focused on paralinguistic means of expression. Finally, Peter Freese’s concern is teaching narrative competence through American short stories. Because of their brevity and the genre’s diversity, short stories have played a significant role in the history of literature learning. Peter Freese himself has contributed in no small part to this history, and in his article he reintroduces his well-known and widely used analytical toolkit for analysing short stories (first published in 1976) in the light of new concepts focused on developing narrative competence. The literary texts discussed target a more advanced learner audience, thus creating a bridge between this and the following section.

In this following part the focus is on upper secondary levels, and, for this learning context, literature is discussed in connection with specific literature- and ← 11 | 12 → culture-related topics. In Why Read a Shakespeare Play in Class? Rüdiger Ahrens highlights the past and present significance of Shakespeare’s works. Useful background information on the Tudor world, Shakespeare’s English, and the Elizabethan stage is also given to raise the learners’ historical awareness and to facilitate entry into the world of Shakespeare’s plays. This article is followed by Peter Freese’s comments on the American Dream, which has been a favourite topic in ELT since the late 1970s. In his article Peter Freese includes texts of historical interest (e.g. Israel Zangwill’s play The Melting Pot [1908]), as well as a plethora of contemporary texts. His choice of texts spans canonized literature (e.g. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman) and pop songs written and performed by artists as varied as Frank Zappa, Bruce Springsteen, Puff Daddy, Bad Religion or the Casting Crowns. By doing so, he suggests a wide-reaching concept of Literature and creates links to learners’ textual preferences.

Whereas in these two essays there is a focus on what used to be the core countries in English Studies, i.e. the UK and the USA, Maria Eisenmann shifts attention to other Anglophone locations including Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, the Indian subcontinent, New Zealand and parts of Africa. In Crossovers – Postcolonial Literature and Transcultural Learning, she gives insight into the conditions for and dynamics of postcolonial development in the areas of culture and literature. Her main focus is on concepts of cultural hybridisation as suggested by postcolonial critics and constructed in postcolonial literary texts. According to such concepts, postcolonial writers, because of their migration routes and multicultural affiliations, can no longer be tied to one location and culture. As an illustrative example for classroom use, she discusses a poem by John Agard, a writer born in Guyana to a Caribbean father and Portuguese mother, who at the age of 18 moved to the UK, where he has lived ever since. Eisenmann’s interest in capturing English Studies in its more global dimensions is taken up and further expanded in the following contribution. In Opportunities and Challenges for Transcultural Learning and Global Education via Literature, Laurenz Volkmann makes a case for addressing current global issues through literary texts. For Volkmann global education requires learning approaches which can prepare students for living with a diversity of life concepts without overlooking the commonalities which bind people together across cultural, historical, and generational gaps. Finally, Frauke Matz supplies a concrete example for global education in literature learning. In Alternative Worlds – Alternative Texts: Teaching (Young Adult) Dystopian Fiction she shows how this genre has developed over recent decades, and how in its contemporary realizations it addresses issues of global significance such as environmental destruction, genetic engineering, or the silencing ← 12 | 13 → of critical citizens. Frauke Matz illustrates how contemporary dystopian novels written for young adult readers can invite critical thinking and active engagement with the issues portrayed.

The final section focuses on new approaches to and future perspectives for literature learning. In recent years the concept of literature has undergone significant change. While for Peter Widdowson (1999: 121) literature – i.e. ‘L’ and ‘l’ practices – refers to texts whose “originating modality and final point of reference” is in written form, new concepts would include the crossing of written, spoken and visual text practices, thus emphasizing the multimodality of literary meaning making. In the first three contributions this shift towards multimodality is addressed and discussed with reference to ELT contexts. In Teaching Multimodal Novels, Wolfgang Hallet suggests a semiotic approach to such texts to engage with their verbal and non-verbal forms of symbolization and story-telling. The modal transformation of the novel is illustrated with the help of Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian (2007), Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2005) and Walter Dean Myer’s Monster (1999). The texts chosen can help learners develop their multi-literacy competencies. Moreover, they invite multi-perspectival engagement with topical issues such as intercultural identity development, coming to terms with 9/11, and the fluid boundaries between reality and fiction. The complex relationship between truth and fiction is also addressed in the following contribution. In Narrating the ‘Truth’: Using Autographics in the EFL Classroom, Christian Ludwig discusses how comics and graphic novels can provide a wealth of possibilities for multi-literacy education. The author challenges traditional notions of literature in two ways. First, the canon is opened to include comics and graphic novels, and, secondly, an autographic text, i.e. an autobiography presented in graphic form, is presented which straddles the common distinction between fact and fiction. The text in question, Mary Talbot’s ‘Dotter in her Father’s Eyes’, is rich in potential for developing intercultural, historical and gender-related competencies plus multi-modal literacies. In the third contribution, multimodality is discussed at the level of learning tasks. In Performative Approaches and Innovative Methods, Nancy Grimm and Julia Hammer show how digital tools can be used to work creatively with literature in ELT contexts. In their essay a number of educational apps are introduced and discussed with reference to their interactive potential in literature and language learning.

In the final two contributions, conventional boundaries of ELT and literature are crossed. In her essay on plurilingual literature Gabriele Blell goes beyond the traditional EFL classroom by linking English to other languages with ← 13 | 14 → the help of plurilingual literary texts and films. Blell highlights the rich potential of such texts for language, multi-modal, literary and cultural learning. For Blell multilingualism is a rich resource which needs to be duly acknowledged in language learning. Moreover, she emphasizes the cultural significance of plurilingual literature in a globalized modernity because of the transcultural and multilingual life experiences of their authors. Finally, René Schallegger discusses the pedagogical potential of video games in educational contexts. Schallegger draws attention to a new generation of learners that has grown up with digital media. For these digital natives computer games have become an integral part of their everyday lives. Indeed, these are often learners’ preferred ways to engage with secondary and fictional worlds. Although computer games have not found their way into the concept of Literature yet, they may well show where the future of the field may be headed. Schallegger convincingly shows that educationalists need not be afraid of such a future since such games, apart from their motivational impact, can also foster critical thinking abilities. In literature teaching, a little less than 20 years ago Lothar Bredella (1996: 9) saw the power of literary learning in its combination of affective and critical involvement. Judicious choice of computer games may well open up new avenues for continuing with this tradition.

Finally, the editors would like to express their gratitude to all contributors for patiently bearing with us during the editorial process. Additionally we would like to thank Rachel Köberl for her invaluable suggestions and thorough proofreading of the manuscript.

Werner Delanoy, Maria Eisenmann & Frauke Matz

Klagenfurt & Essen, September 2014


Bredella, Lothar (1996): The Anthropological and Pedagogical Significance of Aesthetic Reading in the Foreign Language Classroom. In: Bredella, Lothar/Delanoy, Werner (eds.): Challenges of Literary Texts in the Foreign Language Classroom. Tübingen: Narr, 1–29.

Bredella, Lothar (2002): Narratives und interkulturelles Verstehen. Zur Entwicklung von Empathie-, Urteils- und Kooperationsfähigkeit. Tübingen: Narr.

Delanoy, Werner (2002): Fremdsprachlicher Literaturunterricht. Theorie und Praxis als Dialog. Tübingen: Narr.

Kuna, Franz: The Death of Theory? From Theory to Post-Theory. Unpublished Manuscript, No Place and Date of Publication. ← 14 | 15 →

Lightbown, Patsy M./Spada, Nina (2006): How Languages are Learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Said, Edward (2003): Humanism and Democratic Criticism. Basingstoke: Palgrave.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (March)
Literaturdidaktik Book session Fachdidaktik
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 394 pp., 12 b/w fig., 18 tables, 6 graphs

Biographical notes

Werner Delanoy (Volume editor) Maria Eisenmann (Volume editor) Frauke Matz (Volume editor)

Werner Delanoy is Professor of EFL Teaching at the University of Klagenfurt (Austria). His main areas of research are foreign language and literature learning, the intercultural dimension of (English) language learning, teacher education as well as British culture and literature since 1945. Maria Eisenmann is Professor of EFL Teaching at the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany). Her main areas of research are teaching literature, inter- and transcultural learning, media literacy and differentiation in the foreign language classroom. Frauke Matz is a lecturer of EFL Teaching at the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany). Her research areas include teaching methodology of literature, inter- and transcultural learning as well as the role of multiliteracies in (English) language teaching.


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396 pages