Thesis Title

The Novel and Society: a Postmodern Perspective on Pedagogy

Date of Graduation

Summer 2007

Degree

Master of Arts in English

Department

English

Committee Chair

Margaret Weaver

Keywords

novel, society, self, integrity, pedagogy

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature

Abstract

I am proposing a possible remedy to a negative transformation I have witnessed as a language and literature teacher over the last decade, during which time I have taught every grade level from kindergarten to college. We are transforming readers from eager young lovers of narrative in grade school to those who are unwilling to even pick up a book in succeeding years. The secondary school setting is where the novel first emerges as a classroom tool. Using the ideas of Russian theorists Mikhail Bakhtin and Lev Vygotsky, I am proposing a pegagogical reform in how we use the novel in our junior and senior high school classrooms. According to Bakhtin, the novel is alive, liberated and liberating, anticanonical, unfinalized, and unfinalizable - my view of an adolescent. The dialogism inherent in the novel is what defines it; therefore, we need to stop using monologic practices to teach the dialogic thinking that reading novels can lead to. Since the novel's original purpose in the 18th century was primarily didactic, it is important to realize the ongoing connection between novels and young people and how students can benefit themselves and society by a return to reading novels. By incorporating certain educational and sociological theories proposed by these two theorists and adopting certain experimental pedagogies of service learning, team teaching, and cross curricular instruction that are currently being practiced, centering the novel in secondary classrooms school-wide will bring the genre back to life for our adolescents, all the while bettering our sense of self, strengthening our integrity, and contributing to what society in a democracy should truly be like.

Copyright

© Elizabeth Paige Hall

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