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Literary Texts and Intercultural Learning

Exploring New Directions


Ana Goncalves Matos

This book offers new perspectives on the pedagogical value of literary texts. The book is, in the first place, a theoretical study – speculative in nature – about the inherent connection between reading and interculturality. The author argues that reading literary texts may open up a passage to a ‘third place’, a space in which a student can learn more about their own identity and ultimately arrive at a more nuanced understanding of otherness. Some of the skills implicated in the construction of textual understanding can facilitate intercultural learning, opening up opportunities for a pedagogical approach in which the reading of literary texts develops a student’s intercultural perspective and fosters reflection on cultural difference. The author explores the pedagogical potential of the book’s theoretical premises through a sustained classroom-based example.


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Chapter TwoLiterature and intercultural foreign language education 57


Chapter Two Literature and intercultural foreign language education We can never forget that what books communicate often remains unknown even to the author himself, that books often say something dif ferent from what they set out to say, that in any book there is a part that is the author’s and a part that is a collective and anonymous work. — Calvino 1986: 99 Thus it is perhaps one of the chief values of literature that by its very indeterminacy it is able to transcend the restrictions of time and the writ- ten word and to give to people of all ages and backgrounds the chance to enter other worlds and so enrich their own lives. — Iser 1993: 30 Introduction From a pedagogical perspective, literature may be a potential resource for teaching and learning a foreign language and culture in intercultural perspective. It is through literature that one may be fully conscious of a language and the worlds that the same language configures. Literature is a reaction to the real world and for that reason it is an interpretation of it. Literature provides self-awareness, awareness of our inner world and of fers a better knowledge of the world around us. Moreover, the literary text contextualizes insights into the complex relationship between indi- vidual and collective identities. As the literary text invites the reader to live temporarily through a dif ferent context, this immersion in foreign values, attitudes and beliefs favours self-awareness and ref lection on a contextual- ized otherness by complexifying...

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