Ambiguity and Estrangement : Peer-Led Deliberative Dialogues on Literature in the EFL Classroom
Abstract: The thesis focuses on ideological and emotional dimensions of literature reading in the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classroom. The empirical data at the heart of this dissertation comprises questionnaires, group sessions, student texts, and post-study evaluation. Drawing on the fields of postcolonial studies, reader response theories, and critical literacy, the study investigates upper secondary students’ formulations of values in carefully staged peer-led deliberative dialogues on literature. Bakhtin’s theory on internally persuasive discourse has been instrumental in examining the properties of the novel that inspire students to formulate values. Moreover, the concept of positionality provides a framework for understanding how the text decenters the subject position of the students but also how reading is productive of creating moments of instability because of the positions offered in the EFL setting. The discussion of how the students move between reading stances is located in reader response theories dealing with aesthetic reading. My proposition is that the ambiguity of literary texts and the added estrangement effects of reading in EFL conjoin in fostering a predisposition towards language, literature, and interaction characterized by what Bakhtin calls ideological becoming.The organization of reading into deliberative dialogues makes it possible to delineate ecologies of transformation created over the course of the project. Representations of the texts change by way of social interaction in the groups, but there is also transformation in the individual brought about by this kind of active and dynamic reading. In short, the reading process that occurs in the project can be said to reflect bounder crossings and the in-between spaces of human textual transactions; between personal world and imagined text world as well as the collaborative meaning negotiated in the groups. An important finding regards the points of convergence for axes of disaffiliation and affiliation in this EFL setting, leading to reinforcement of positions of privilege and constructions of difference. Nevertheless, the overarching argument remains that deliberative dialogues on literature in EFL can function as a hands-on democratic practice generating critical exploration of ideological dimensions coupled with respectful reading of the experiences of Another. Keywords: literature, EFL, peer-led deliberative dialogues, civic values, postcolonial, positionality, ambiguity, estrangement, aesthetic reading, internally persuasive discourse, upper secondary students, transformative learning.
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