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The canon in the classroom: students' experiences of texts from other times

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This paper examines the debate about the English literature canon in schools. It evaluates the importance of the canon in a 21st-century curriculum and considers its relevance to adolescent readers saturated in early 21st-century culture who have disparate identities and diverse backgrounds. The implications for teaching and learning of the chronological, social, cultural, and linguistic distance between pre-20th-century canonical texts and today's readers are examined in the light of the theoretical perspectives of Hans Robert Jauss and Wolfgang Iser. These perspectives are applied to findings from a recent 3-year longitudinal case study of 13-16-year-olds reading canonical texts and of the responsive teaching they experienced.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-05-01

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