"Teachers and Students as Co-Conspirators: Reading Dangerously and Dangerous Reading"
The presentation on Saturday 2:15-3:15 in ENGR E203 will examine the place of talk, text(s), and ethics in the literature classroom, and features case studies of university and high school English classroom teachers incorporating “dangerous reading”—challenged/banned literature—and “reading dangerously”—practices of teaching/learning which resist comfortable and traditional interpretive stances.
The presentation will offer a hybrid inquiry approach—part research presentation, part hands-on demonstration—of what happens when teachers and students read and talk about banned/challenged/controversial literature. Drawing upon the pedagogical methods and curricular materials of several classroom English teachers who attempted to teach/read dangerously as they incorporated ‘controversial’ literature in their classrooms, the presentation will seek to move the critical discussion of teaching controversial literature beyond the often binary considerations of censorship and free speech to engage the perspective of ethical criticism and social justice in literature classroom. Part of our context was a series of recent book challenges within several SE Michigan districts of classic and YA texts, but also of the expressive and interpretive writing produced by secondary students in response to these literary texts as well as the difficult material conditions of their own lives. The “dangerous reading” of the title encompasses both student and literary texts about controversial topics.
The practices of “reading dangerously” will be showcased through key excerpts of the classroom conversations about this literature: first, of conversations between teacher and students in a secondary classroom about select passages from frequently challenged YA text; and then, of the critical discussion of classroom teachers about the issues raised by those conversations. This double framing of such conversations will help highlight the real and perceived challenges (and opportunities) teachers experience in fostering new classroom spaces where teachers and students are not silenced or do not fall prey to self-censorship.
Participants will have an opportunity to examine data through multiple critical lenses and use some techniques of discourse analysis (Gee 2004) to locate additional points of contact between dangerous reading and reading dangerously.