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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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Chapter One. Introduction: Toward a Pedagogical Criticism of Literature Education 1. See Gómez (1993). Tales and Legends of Ancient Yucatan. 2. In the first chapter of A Secular Age, Charles Taylor (2007) uses the contrast between 1500 and 2000 to discuss the conditions of belief in premodern and modern societies. 3. Although the term “literature education” encompasses the study of literature in all different languages, the focus of this study is specifically on English literature education. 4. Just as English literature was the most important subject in England in the late nineteenth century (Eagleton, 1996), Applebee (1974) describes how English, including the study of literature, had emerged as a major subject in schools by the 1890s and was essential to developing a common spirit of citizenship in the colony. 5. In the case of an “elective” subject, as opposed to a “full” subject, content is generally reduced by about half. In Singapore, students who opt for the full literature in English paper are assessed on paper 1 involving a close unseen analysis of poetry or prose as well as analysis of a prose text (such as a novel or a range of short stories) in addition to paper 2 involving an analysis of a drama text. Students who opt for the subject as an elective are only assessed on paper 1. Concerning the implications of the data, see Choo (2013) and Poon (2007). 6. Bloom is unapologetic about the elitist nature of literary study. In discussing literary criticism, he...

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