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Teaching literature as language. A critical examination of linguistic approaches to the teaching of literature to second and foreign language learners.

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As its title suggests, this dissertation examines second/foreign language literature teaching (and learning) with an emphasis on linguistic approaches to the study of literature. The approaches referred to are those which theorise language use - this includes literary texts - as a communicative context, that is, functional grammar and critical discourse analysis. The dissertation argues for the inclusion of literary texts in second/foreign language teaching and learning on the grounds that, at higher education level, the study of literature can develop in students important knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes which are necessary both for their (the students') functioning in a multicultural society, and for the development of a critical civil society, as outlined in current policy documents relating to the transformation of the South African higher education system. The dissertation consists of two distinct parts: a theoretical section, followed by a practical application. In the theoretical section, a rationale is developed for the inclusion of second/foreign language literature. The following critical questions are asked: 1. What place do second/foreign language literary studies have in the present higher education context? - This question is explored against the background of present higher education policy. 2. What place could, or perhaps should, second/foreign language literary studies have, or rather, which knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes can be taught using them? - Here, theories of understanding (Gadamer and Habermas), as well as their bearing on language learning and the development of critical thought, are discussed. 3. Which theories of language and discourse can be used to develop the critical understanding, interpretation and communication skills that are required in society? - The goal of this exploration is to gauge which theories best address the requirement of higher education to produce criticality. To round the dissertation off, an attempt is then made to apply the considerations developed in 1 - 3 in a concrete classroom situation. For this purpose, a teaching and learning project that took place in the second semester of 2000, is described, and its results evaluated and discussed, against the background of what is presently required of higher education in terms of its contribution to society.


Thesis (M.Ed.) - University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2001.


Language and languages--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers., Second language acquisition., Literature--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers., Theses--Higher education.