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Situating Academic Readers: Emotion and Narrative in the Classroom

Wender, Emily (2012) Situating Academic Readers: Emotion and Narrative in the Classroom. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation seeks to address gaps in the teaching of academic reading at the middle, secondary, and university level by examining the pedagogical potential of emotion as a direct category of analysis. Despite a recent interdisciplinary resurgence in emotion, emotion itself remains untheorized in dominant pedagogical approaches, often associated with accounts of private reading, completed outside of the requirements of school. This dissertation argues that emotion is a productive category to explore in the classroom, and that direct attention to emotion can open up avenues of analysis new to readers.

In order to address how approaches to emotion could deepen academic reading, I designed a qualitative study of a sophomore English class in an urban high school. My analysis of recorded class discussions, student writing, transcribed conversations, student surveys, teacher interviews, lesson plans, and a daily research journal worked backwards, isolating moments of academic reading moves in order to analyze the pedagogical methods that invited these particular responses.

In this action research with students, I define emotion through a rhetorical lens, based on the cultural critic Sara Ahmed, as our readings of how we meet objects of our attention. I adopt social constructivist approaches to language – as invention, always situated within contexts, and continually shaping emotion. I conclude that emphasis on emotion leads students to increased awareness of self, text, and others. Specifically, students situate speakers and characters in relation to their important objects. While defining those relationships, students investigate ambiguities in language use. At the same time, students position themselves in relation to the textual relationships they have mapped. Drawing on the transactional theory of Louise Rosenblatt, this dissertation considers acts of classroom reading as powerful events which include student readers and texts as participants. Ultimately, emotion as a direct category of analysis leads students to practices of academic reading based on relationships, which I offer as a redefinition of “close reading.”


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSmith, Philippsmith@pitt.eduPSMITH
Committee MemberBialostosky, Dondhb2@pitt.eduDHB2
Committee MemberKameen, Paulpkameen@pitt.eduPKAMEEN
Committee MemberAmanda,
Date: 5 July 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 16 March 2012
Approval Date: 5 July 2012
Submission Date: 6 March 2012
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 310
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: emotion, English, Reader Response, pedagogy, relationship, classroom space, language, English Education
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2012 18:42
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2017 05:15


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