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Mobilizing Emotion in an Urban English Classroom

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In this paper, we argue that emotion in English classrooms is a mediated action mobilized through discursive and material practices that transform texts and signs. We first provide an overview of the current state of English as a secondary school subject in the United States to provide a context for our work on emotion within a critical literacy framework. Next, we theorize emotion as mediated action rather than as an internal psycho-physiological state. Finally, we offer an example of how emotion was mobilized in a racially and ethnically diverse classroom that focused on documentary film analysis and production in ways that constrained and enabled particular ideologies, identities, and opportunities for learners. We argue that personal growth models of English focus on the right and tasteful kind of affect (or feeling) and mask the ideological roots of language which emotion – when we cease to police it – has the potential to illuminate.
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Keywords: classroom discourse; critical literacy; emotion; mediated action; mediated discourse; social semiotics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Curriculum & Instruction,University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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