Investigating English Discourse: Language, Literacy and Literature

By Ronald Carter | Go to book overview

9

TEACHING LANGUAGE AND LITERARINESS

INTRODUCTION
The main aim of this chapter is to argue thai in the teaching of English as a second or foreign language, opportunities should be sought for more extensive and integrated study of language and literature than is commonly the case at present. The first half of the chapter discusses some language-based study skills which I consider important preliminary activities to reading literature. Although the study skills I discuss are language-based, I am not claiming that understanding the language is the same as understanding the literature. For this reason, I stress that these skills/activities are preliminary and pre-literary. In the second half of the chapter I discuss the use of a linguistically based model in application to a literary narrative. I claim that studying models like this can contribute much to the development of literary competence. Such language-based analysis can also have considerable benefits for the study of the language and thus aids the integration of language and literary study; again, however, we must exercise caution, since language and literature are separate systems or phenomena, although literature is made from language which is its primary medium and is, therefore, of considerable significance in our reading of literature. For this reason, I consider that the use of linguistic models enables us to work on the literariness of texts rather than on texts as ‘literature’. Recognition of literariness is one of the most fundamental components in literary competence.Other related aims of this chapter are as follows. It is suggested that for students of a foreign literature linguistic models and pre-literary linguistic activities can:
(a) aid recognition of and sensitivity to the nature of language organisation in related discourse types in the target language;
(b) lay a basis for interpretation of texts by analysing closely key structural features of the language of that text;
(c) explain the literary character of particular texts (in this instance, narrative style in a short story);
(d) point to features of literariness in texts by simultaneous application of

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