Helping High School Readers Interpret Challenging Texts Using Lenses from Literary Theory
The basis for this chapter is the collaborative teaching experience of two colleagues at the University of Virginia. For several years, we have taught the “Counterpoint Seminar,” an innovative course uniting instructors and college students from the English department and the school of education. The course investigates how literary theory can be paired with cutting-edge pedagogy to help future middle and high school English teachers teach challenging literature in today’s secondary classrooms and to create a space for dialogue among students who sometimes view literature, and the world, in contradictory ways. We view literary theory as offering multiple lenses to help secondary students explore the rich complexities of poetry. In this chapter, we describe several classes devoted to teaching a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, “A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi; Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon.”
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