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Reading the World, the Globe, and the Cosmos

Approaches to Teaching Literature for the Twenty-first Century


Suzanne S. Choo

This book won the 2014 AESA (American Educational Studies Association) Critics Choice Award.

The purpose of this book is restore the centrality of pedagogy in governing the ways literary texts are received, experienced, and interpreted by students in the classroom. Utilizing a method of pedagogical criticism, it provides an account of core approaches to teaching literature that have emerged across history and the conceptual values informing these approaches. More importantly, Reading the World discusses how these values have been shaped by broader global forces and key movements in the discipline of English Literature. To varying degrees, these approaches are aimed at cultivating a hospitable imagination so that students may more fully engage with multiple others in the world. Given the reality of an increasingly interconnected twenty-first century, literature pedagogy plays a vital role in schools by demonstrating how world, global, and cosmopolitan approaches to teaching literature can facilitate the prioritization of the other, challenge us to think about how we can be accountable to multiple others in the world, and push us to continually problematize the boundaries of our openness towards the other.


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This book developed from my dissertation at Teachers College, Columbia University, USA. I am grateful to Dr. Ruth Vinz for her mentorship and guidance throughout the four years of this research, from its initial sketches to its present form. The many insights I gained from our conversations have been vital to the development of this project. I would also like to thank Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz for her consistent support in helping me discover my voice and shaping my thinking on this subject; Dr. David Hansen for pushing me to ask philosophical questions essential to this work and for powerfully expanding my thinking on cosmopolitanism and education; Dr. Gauri Viswanathan for her penetrating wisdom, whose work on the ideological institutionalization of the discipline of English literature first inspired me with ideas that have led to this book; and Dr. Sheridan Blau, whose expansive knowledge of the field of English education has provided rich layers to this work. I am thankful for critical friends without whom this project would have been less enjoyable and less enriching. Nick Sousanis, in particular, has journeyed with me throughout my entire writing process and our regular discussions have contributed to strengthening this work. I have also been fortunate to be able to partner with Deb Sawch and Alison Villanueva on various fieldwork projects that have opened my eyes to twenty-first century education around the world. I thank my editor, Dr. Cameron McCarthy, for his constructive comments and guidance throughout each stage of this project. I am...

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