Examining Emotional Rules in the English Classroom: A Critical Discourse Analysis of One Student's Literary Responses in Two Academic Contexts

By Thein, Amanda Haertling; Guise, Megan et al. | Research in the Teaching of English, February 2015 | Go to article overview

Examining Emotional Rules in the English Classroom: A Critical Discourse Analysis of One Student's Literary Responses in Two Academic Contexts


Thein, Amanda Haertling, Guise, Megan, Sloan, DeAnn Long, Research in the Teaching of English


I don't think when [Glen] married Anney that it was his intention to abuse his daughters or abuse her daughters. I remember them describing him at first, and him being like very possessive and very quiet. And you know, I sometimes, I wonder what his childhood was like.

-Nina, age 16 (response to Bastard out of Carolina in an interview with Amanda)

Daddy, you're an ass fuck! That would probably be my cry. Damn you!

-Nina, age 16 (response to Bastard out of Carolina in a literature circle discussion)

Nina,1 a 10th grader, expressed these two, contrasting literary responses in grappling with Dorothy Allison's (1993) novel Bastard out of Carolina. In both cases, Nina discussed Glen, a character who sexually abuses his young stepdaughter, Bone. The first response was shared with Amanda, a researcher in Nina's classroom, in an interview where Nina discussed her interpretations of classroom literature. The second response comes from a literature circle where Nina and two peers discussed the novel outside the earshot of their teacher, DeAnn.

Current research suggests that emotional investment is essential for helping students critically engage in English language arts (ELA) learning (Dockter, Haug, & Lewis, 2011). Yet, scholarly conceptions of the relationship between emotion and response have thus far been limited. For instance, the role of emotion is rarely considered in responses like Nina's first one-a response that appears rational, scholarly, and interpretive. On the other hand, responses like Nina's second, with its intimate stance and intense affect, are seldom considered to be interpretive. Instead, they are viewed as emotional and personal and are judged in terms of the degree of their usefulness in moving students toward interpretation.

Common-sense assumptions evoked by Nina's responses arise from conceptualizations of the role of emotion in literature learning that focus chiefly on the affordances and limitations of personal response-a focus that reflects dominant theories of emotion as located in the individual (Boler, 1999). For instance, New Critics and formalists see emotional/personal response as distracting from textfocused interpretations of literature (Wimsatt & Beardsley, 1949). Conversely, simplified forms of Rosenblatt's (1995) reader-response theory (like those forwarded by many textbooks and mass-produced teaching materials) see emotional/ personal response as useful, but only inasmuch as it activates a reader's interest in particular textual themes. Finally, sociocultural response theorists and critical literacy proponents suggest that emotional/personal response should be troubled because it may limit a reader's ability to understand how characters are shaped by larger social and cultural forces (Appleman, 2009; Lewis, 2000; McLaughlin & DeVoogd, 2004). Tethered to the personal, emotion is conceptualized in each of these paradigms as something to be disregarded, leveraged, or challenged in an effort to move students toward literary interpretation. Moreover, when viewed exclusively as personal, emotion becomes peripheral to the central project of literary engagement.

In this paper, we offer a theorization of the relationship between emotion and literary response that is fundamentally different and, consequently, poses new questions that we argue more fully explore how emotion engages response. Following other scholars in English studies (Lewis & Tierney, 2011 ; Micciche, 2007; Winans, 2012), we propose that a sociocultural theory of emotion that disentangles emotion from the personal provides a new lens that reveals the central role of emotion in engaging students in literature learning. Within this theory, emotion is not something that resides in individual students, nor can it be leveraged, ignored, or gotten beyond. Instead, emotion is always already in the fabric of every classroom context. Given this view, we argue that neither of Nina's responses was more or less emotional than the other. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Examining Emotional Rules in the English Classroom: A Critical Discourse Analysis of One Student's Literary Responses in Two Academic Contexts
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.