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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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Conclusions: A door 179


Conclusions: A door Have you practis’d so long to learn to read? Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems? Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, […] You shall no longer take things at second or third hand…nor look through the eyes of the dead…nor feed on the spectres in books, You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself. — Walt Whitman 1965: 26 Bredella and Delanoy provide what I consider to be a general aim for lit- erature in education when they write that ‘[…] literature in education concerns itself with the study of the interactive processes among literary texts, teachers and students in specific educational contexts in order to improve existing practices of literature teaching’ (1996: xxiii). Taken as fundamentally an empirical subject, literature in education experiments with literary texts and should underline their intercultural dimension: the experience of cultural alterity implies knowing how to read, and the aim of literature is to teach us to read. The teaching module approach outlined in this book is exploratory: these are subjects for debate and as such no definitive or complete solu- tions for teaching literature to foreign language students are possible. The purpose is obviously not to set down a formula or to outline a model for any teacher to follow but to underline considerations on the subject of the...

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