Talking Books: Gender and the Responses of Adolescents in Literature CirclesReport as inadecuate

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English Teaching: Practice and Critique, v5 n3 p30-58 Dec 2006

The use of student-led discussions, or literature circles, offers the potential to engage all students through a more democratic, dialogic approach. The central goal of this research was to understand how adolescents practise literacy within the context of a peer reading group, and how gender impacts these practices. Transcripts of student-led discussions were analyzed to determine how gender positioning impacted the group dynamics in literature circles; how students utilized literary theories, particularly gender theories, when in literature circles; and how the meanings constructed in literature circles challenged or reinforced traditional discourses of gender. Findings from two diverse focal groups suggested that there was a congruence between how the students discussed and what they discussed. While the dialogic structure opened space for critical readings of the text-worlds in certain instances, there was also evidence of asymmetrical power relations within groups, and corresponding resistance by some of the boys to more critical conversations, particularly about femininity. (Contains 1 footnote.)

Descriptors: Adolescents, Group Dynamics, Sexual Identity, Reading Instruction, Teaching Methods, Discussion (Teaching Technique), Group Discussion, Student Participation, Gender Differences, Theories, Power Structure, Reading Assignments, Critical Theory, High School Students, Grade 12, English Instruction

Wilf Malcolm Institute for Educational Research, University of Waikato. PB 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand. Tel: +64-7-858-5171; Fax: +64-7-838-4712; e-mail: wmier[at]; Web site:

Author: Lloyd, Rachel Malchow


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