You are on page 1of 16

Conceptions of Literature in University Language Courses Author(s): Cecilia Alvstad and Andrea Castro Source: The Modern Language

Journal, Vol. 93, No. 2 (Summer, 2009), pp. 170-184 Published by: Wiley on behalf of the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40264049 . Accessed: 21/12/2013 02:09
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

.
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Wiley and National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Modern Language Journal.

http://www.jstor.org

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

ofLiterature Conceptions in University LanguageCourses


CECILIA ALVSTADaand ANDREA CASTROb* In thisarticlewe set out to explore and discussreasonsforreadingliterary textsin university curricula 16 syllabi of of foreign is based on 2 sourcesof information: languages.Our analysis in which11 university instructors teaching Spanishas a foreign language and a questionnaire thesesyllabi whenemphasisis predomiWe pointto a numberof risks expresstheirintentions. and grammar or cultural nantly placed on instrumental goals such as acquisitionofvocabulary modules withinlanguage curriculashould instead,thatthe literary knowledge.We suggest, formulate their ownspecific and cultural competences goals. Ratherthanprivileging linguistic to be trained, ofthefacts that theliterary modulescould,forexample,raisestudents' awareness thereare many ofreadinga textbutthatinterpretation remains a historically nevertheless ways situatedand constrained activity. LITERATURE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A STANdard componentofuniversity curricula offoreign one of the ullanguages.Althoughtraditionally timategoals of language studieswas to read litin the foreignlanguage, the erarymasterpieces reasonsforincorporating in foreign texts literary havechangedoverthelastcenlanguagecurricula Kramschand Kramsch(2000) pointed out tury. thatthisis evidentfromthe pages of the ML]} The audiolingualand communicative approaches to second language acquisitionthatwere developed during and afterthe Second World War of the (Tornberg,1997) and the general growth have opened up a concepdisciplineoflinguistics tionofliterature as a toolforacquisition offoreign and cultural 1989; (Davis, languages competences Schultz,2002; Sitman& Lerner,1999). This conas a meanscontrasts ception of literature sharply withthe previously mentionedconceptionof literatureas theend goal oflanguage studies.Interbothconceptions coexisttoday in foreign estingly, language programs.
a AreaStudies University ofOslo,Department ofLiterature, and EuropeanLanguages,P.O. Box 1003 Blindera,NO0315 Oslo,Norway, Email: cecilia.alvstad@ilos.uio.no b University of Gothenburg, Department ofLanguagesand Box 200, 405 30 Goteborg, Email: Literatures, Sweden, andrea. se castro@gu. *Theauthors share article. equal responsibility forthis

0026-7902/09/170-184 $1.50/0

TheModern 93, ii, (2009) Language Journal,

2009 TheModern Language Journal

into a someThis combinationputs literature whatawkward position.On the one hand, literaoflanguage tureis to contribute to theacquisition is its poetic the it to be read for on other, skills; landimensions. to literature within Approaches guage studymust negotiate between these two roles. The matteris further complicatedby the factthatthe literary modules mustbe relatedto the generalaims of HigherEducation,such as to foster criticalthinking. Bearing thisin mind,we in would like to claim thatthe role of literature clear. is far from curricula foreign language today because the We see thisconfusion as problematic lackofa clear role in accordancewith higheredulead to insecurity cationregulation willinevitably among teachersas to how to actuallyworkwith in class. literature In our everyday work as Spanish teachersat twoScandinavianuniversities we are part of this situation.Some of the studentswe meet are interestedin studying whereas others, literature, observations made byscholarssuchas confirming Castro(2004) and Davis,Gorell,Kline,and Hsieh (1992), have difficulty understanding whyliterature is part of language study. Many of our stueven dentsare not used to readingliterary texts, in theirmothertongue,and do not see how literaturecan advance theirlanguage skillsanyfurtherthan nonliterary texts.Seeking to convince thesestudents of the importance of includinglitwe have foundourselves eraturein the curricula, thatstudying repeatingtwostandardarguments: literature competences helpsus developlinguistic

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

and AndreaCastro CeciliaAlvstad and that it also furnishes knowledgeabout forcan eign cultures.These and similararguments also be found in countless syllabi.Yet theyare as theydo not address the scarcelyconvincing, crucial query. All texts (including those to be found in newspapers, books, magazines,history etc.) can help develop linsongs,advertisements, guisticcompetencesand can serve as points of intoforeign cultures. So why do so manyof entry us persist in giving to literary texts? priority we defend the idea that Although intuitively literaturedoes play an importantrole in our - a role that cannot be substitutedby courses - the presentstudy nonliterary readingmaterial2 from our own to a clear springs quest formulate answerto thisfundamental question.We aim to thecontradictions inherent betweenfohighlight ofliterature and cusingon thepoeticdimensions the linguistic of courses. We also goals language explore to what extentthe reading of literature in language studiesis relatedto objectives of critical thinking. Our hope is thata deeper underroles literature can and standingof the different does playin language instruction willenable uniteachersof foreignlanguages (ourselves versity and articulate theseroles included) to formulate more clearly, both in termsof course syllabiand in terms of directinteraction withour students. othercontexts thantheScandinavian, Covering the 2007 Modern Language Association (MLA) reporton ForeignLanguages withinHigher Education pointsout the necessity of transforming in theUnitedStates. In thereacademicprograms within foreign port, languagedepartments higher education are describedas harboringa splitbetweenthelanguagecurriculum and theliterature that curriculum, system appearingas a two-tiered and needs to evolve" "has outliveditsusefulness (The MLA Ad Hoc Committeeon ForeignLanguages,2007, p. 3) .3 on ForeignLanThe MLA Ad Hoc Committee that this fault-ridden guages (2007) suggested structure be replaced should language-literature in "with a broaderand morecoherentcurriculum and literature whichlanguage,culture, are taught as a continuouswhole" (p. 3). Language, literature,and cultureare already,today,ratherinteWe gratedin Swedish foreign languageprograms. see manyadvantageswiththis system and basiof foreign callywe agree withthe transformation that is called for in the languageprograms report. we wishto emphasizewhatwe see as one However, - namely, of the major risks involved thatthe desired"continuous whole" (p. 3) maybe achieved at theexpense oftheintegrity ofitsparts. In other words,we see it as both essentialand achievable

171 that a curriculum motivate all ofitscomponents forexample,literature-on theirown terms, not just as means to achievingsome othergoal- for or,quotingthereexample,languageproficiency, or transcultural port,"translingual competence" (p. 3). In an effort to establisha more solid point of departurethan thatwhich our own teaching experience would allow, we set out to analyze two sources of information. The first consistsof 16 Spanish syllabifromthe eightuniversities in Sweden where Spanish is currently The taught. second consistsof a questionnaire,to which 11 withthese courses reSpanish teachersworking sponded byanswering pertinent questionsabout theirteachingas well as about theirown particular syllabi. The sourceswe analyzeare exclusively Swedish.Nonetheless,we believe the discussion is of relevancefor university language learning in general. environments FOREIGN LANGUAGE CURRICULA WITHIN HIGHER EDUCATION courses are deForeign language university signed to correlatewith the general objectives of undergraduateeducation. In Sweden, higher education is regulatedby the Higher Education Act, which prescribesthat one should promote students'capacitiesforindependentand critical to solveproblems judgmentas wellas theirability independently:
educationshall,in additionto knowlUndergraduate witha capability edge and skills, providethe students of independentand critical judgment,an abilityto solveproblemsand an ability to follow independently the developmentof knowledge,all withinthe field coveredbythe education.The educationshould also to exchangeinformation develop thestudents' ability at a scientific level. (SwedishHigher Education Act, Statute 9, Act2001, 1263)

The aim of a foreign-language undergraduate course at a Swedishuniversity can thusneverbe focusedexclusively on thedevelopment oflinguistic skillsor on the acquisitionof culturalknowledge. From thisalso followsthatour own argu- promoting mentspresentedearlier literature as a means to develop linguisticcompetence and - are to obtainknowledgeabout foreign cultures not only far fromconvincing, but also theydo not by themselves meet the standardsof undergraduateeducation as expressedin the Swedish Higher Education Act. It should also be noted thattheHigherEducationActdeals only with general objectives in it refers and, therefore, nothing

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

172

93 (2009) TheModern Language Journal

literato specific areasofstudy. Thismeansthat inourspecific as cannot be inferred context, ture, a compulsory of language component university courses. ofcritical The objective can,in turn, thinking to thedescription be concretized by byreferring andBeaty Marton, Dall'Alba, (1993)ofsixqualitaThe first different oflearning.4 tively conceptions - (a) increase three ofknowledge, (b) memoriza- are described as surand (c) application tion, The otherthree faceapproaches to learning. as understanding," (d) "learning (e) "learning in a different and (f) as seeingsomething way," - are identias changing as a person" "learning between fied The difference as deepapproaches. to meanis related surface and deep approaches ing:

docuin effect makesthemcollective instances said to can be Assuch, Swedish ments. repsyllabi ofliterature thepredominant resent conceptions anduniversity. at their department specific In additionto being availableon the Web are usually siteof each department, presyllabi of each at thebeginning to thestudents sented as a binding function course.In thisway, they andstudent, between contract teacher/ university relevant the which an agreement departthrough reach students to helping itself mentcommits exthe stipulated goals.Thus,just as teachers thedescriptobe familiar with students pecttheir so too in thesyllabi, tionofthecoursesetforth follow teachers to their do students preexpect and assessment instruction viously agreed-upon procedures. are in Sweden It shouldbe notedthatsyllabi three conceptions the knowlcouninsomeother than more Throughoutthe first strongly regulated indifor itis easier for In Norway, tries. edge thatis acquired bylearningis seen as something example, thatexists"out there," ready-made, given,something in their to makechanges vidualteachers syllabi to be pickedup, takenin and stored There waiting lists becausereading from semester to semester is an important dividingline between conceptions that describe aimsand objectives and documents A, B and C on the one hand and conceptionsD, E thedeparteither do notneed to pass through is meaning. and F, on the otherhand. The watershed the board. ment or Nevertheless, throughfaculty (Martonet al., 1993,p. 288) thebasicconstraint outScandinavia, by imposed be stressed, arenot syllabi itshould Surface contractual nature)re(as wellas their approaches, must mains without value. thesame. However, university professors to guidetheir to deeperapas the foalso aspire students The mainreasonwe chose syllabi havea to so that students we believe is that cus our of may thereby proaches learning, they analysis "a capability ofdiscerning and focusing strong andteachstudents on how both influence develop andseeing thepat- ersconceive on critical ofsituations ofthelearning aspects goalsofthecourses & we terns those situations" On in are which (Bowden characterizing they engaged. theone hand, to the believethatsyllabi of Marton Wewillreturn are bound to bear traces 1998,pp. 11-12).5 themes ofsurface and deep approaches tolearn- deep-rooted aimtoilofthesubject(s) views they think- luminate. but wediscuss ofcritical theobjective be changed, can,ofcourse, ingwhen Syllabi as to the it relates the results of and involves the because ing analyses. sigsteps many process must of time, teachers amounts nificant present wantfor reasons solidand thoroughly grounded SYLLABI the aremodified, syllabi ingtodo so. Evenwhen based still versions areusually new For thepurposes of thisstudy, thesyllabi we substantially on that wemaintain ones.On theother and second- extant choseto analyze wereused in firsthand, and in introducing can also be effective universities syllabi semester courses at Swedish Spanish knowlof conceptualizing newways in the fallof 2004. Students wererequired to promoting of Spanishfrom edgeandlearning demonstrate basic knowledge 1992). (Ramsden, in on the16 syllabi observation A in the school the to enroll (or preliminary high equivalent) in all of is included is thatLiterature courseand werethusdeemedto be prepared question suchas Grammar, modules with for texts them, with together engagement target-language literary and and Oral Written in the first semester.6 Phonetics, Proficiencies, starting to make In Sweden, are official documents Thus,we feel compelled syllabi ap- Civilization. obvious butnevertheless important proved bytheboardoftherelevant department thesomewhat element is seenas a crucial literature as wellas bytheboardof thefaculty/university. pointthat in courses. these Theirdesign is regulated the Swedish by Higher we thesyllabi observation Another Education inOrdinance.7 Teachers aregenerally regarding rather is that intheprocess volved ofsyllabus but studied are,perhaps inevitably, they development, thisis characteristic thefact several vague.To a certain that are remitted extent, syllabi through

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

and AndreaCastro CeciliaAlvstad

173

as syllabi must be flexible of thegenre, enough and itsfaculty certain to allowthe department freedom ofaction from semester tosemester. A third observation is thatthesyllabi general examined themost similarities, striking present is therepeated ofwhich use ofthree salient key and literature. A vaculture, language, concepts: ofcourse aimsare related to someor all of riety are moreconsistently theseareas;however, they and explicitly relatedto languageand culture Thisbrings us back are to literature. thanthey that our discussion tothetwo arguments began isseenboth that the ofliterature asa study namely, andas a toolfor proficiency developing language toacquire cultural means with which knowledge. from a few thesyllabi Letus examine examples under study:

literature is hand, 1-3).9 On theother (Examples seenas a provider ofknowledge about implicitly and literature culture, language, history, society, so inExample in turn, (most 4) ,which, markedly rests on a specific view ofknowledge as transferable information. Whereas is emphaacquisition is saidabouthelping students sized, nothing perceivecritical ofthelanguage and theculaspects ture arestudying or abouthelping them see they in newand morevaried & (Bowden things ways Marton, 1998;Ramsden, 1992). Noris anything said abouthelping students as readers, so grow "that cantake informed of their they up positions ownwhich canactively in relation defend to they texts" 1994, (McCormick, p. 88). If we take a closerlook at Example1, we note thatan opposition is presented between andcultural reading comprehension perspective. (1) Reading comprehensionis trained by translat- The former is to be trained translation, through ing parts of the textsinto Swedish. Moreover, which recalls thetraditional grammar-translation the texts are to be discussed from a cultural method.10 whichthe Swedishand the through perspective Students are expectedto reach deeper uncan be illustrated. cultures (SylSpanish-speaking of a literary textby translating it of Gothenburg,first derstandings labus SP1100, University first This into their occurs language. translating semester)8 in question is also to be discussed while thetext textsto an and nonliterary of literary (2) The study extension of about 1000 pages. The texts are no link from a cultural perspective. Regrettably, treatedfromthe point of viewof both language is established between thesetwoaims.Focusing is paid to aspects and content.Special attention as a purely issue on comprehension linguistic and thatconcern the culture,literature, history and translating are bothapmeansthatreading counoftheSpanish-speaking societalconditions in an artificial, isolated Valuable way. proached and oral protasksare performed tries.Written awareto foster students' critical opportunities of in to the relation is trained reading ficiency as and ness of (not translating merely reading texts. (SyllabusRO1880, StockholmUniversity, as activities but also comlinguistic-mechanistic first semester) in whichdifferent sets processes texts,the student'sknowlplex cultural (3) By studying literary are of relations and modern of put in play) are thus power Spanish-American Spanish edge cultureand societal change in modliterature, neglected.11 ofliterary texts ern timesis developed.The study and "nonThe use of the terms"literary" imhas the objectiveof noticeably furthermore in Example texts 2,without specification literary" whichare proficiency, provingoral and written of the rolesthateach of thesewillplayin the and group dispracticed in oral presentations The isalsoworthy ofcomment. situation, cussions. (SyllabusSPAB01, KarlstadUniversity, learning ifthese in does not make clear syllabus question second semester) or ifthey of textare interchangeable twotypes (4) The course aims at providing knowledgeabout entities that to be seen as two distinct are meant art and politicsfromearly language, literature, If each other. the with and interact so-called on the focus the complement epochs putting to include some itwouldbe useful latter is true, and seventeenth "GoldenEra" [i.e., thesixteenth Students will have to inwhich this centuries in Spain] abouttheways form ofinformation as well about the didacas aspects of presenttheirown workon different works, complementarity willbe attachedto thisperiod. Greatimportance itmight thestudents havefor tical consequences as regardsboth content a correctpresentation to intowhich with thecurricula whenpresented and delivery. (SyllabusSPA602,Lund University, someinsight. gain second semester) is frequently culture As mentioned previously, in the presentation of the literary in- mentioned a fairly we observe In all fourexamples fourexamOn theone hand, modules. view of literature. strumental Lookingback to the first of thesyllabi as a meansto developlan- ples,we see thatmany is posited literature emphasize of literature to contribute to betthe potential Students maypracticeand guage acquisition: Here are some ter cultural individtheir understanding. syllabi through proficiencies improve texts excerpts ual and collective added): (emphasis readingsof literary

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

174
a culthetexts are tobe discussedfrom (5) Moreover, turalperspective whichtheSwedishand through the Spanish-speaking cultures can be illustrated. ofGothenburg, first SP1100,University (Syllabus semester) (6) Special importanceis givento aspects thatconcern the culture, and society of literature, history countries. (Syllabus RO1880, Spanish-speaking Stockholm first semester) University, in Spanish ofliterature (7) The student's knowledge as well as culture and societal change in modern times is furthered by the studyof literature. (SyllabusSPAB01,KarlstadUniversity, second semester)

93 (2009) TheModern Journal Language


of and acceptanceofthe 'dialogicity' The recognition intoplayin morethan communication brings literary betweenproducer one waythe problemofotherness: between the past of the textand the and recipient, cultures, betweendifferent presentof the recipient, (p. 9)

As evidentin these examples,the termculture is used in a verybroad sense. However,thiswould not be a majorproblemwereit not forthevaguenessof theusage. In Example 5, cultural perspectiveand Swedishand Spanish-speaking cultures seem to gesturetoward an ethnographic usage of theword.In Example 6, cultureis made to stand and societal change; in togetherwithliterature frombut put on Example 7, it is distinguished and society. equal termswithliterature, history, These usages are more than a littleconfusing: Is literature not a part of culture?If thisis indeed the case, how are "distinct" conceptslike culture, and related?12 literature, history, society actually There is yetanothersyllabus that,althoughin line withthe above examples,articulates the additionalidea of a one-way relationbetweenliteratureand society/culture. It presentsliterature as the and in culture the "mirroring society Hispanic countriesduringthe nineteenthand the twentieth century"(Syllabus2840, StockholmUniversecond semester).As will be noted, society sity, and culture are placed beside each other in a Overall,theconcept phrasethatrecallsa formula. of cultureis used in such a vague and formulaic thatitbecomes almostdevoidof wayin thesyllabi all ofthesyllabi in meaning.Moreover, something thisstudy seem to manifest is an implicit viewof the culturesof Spanish-speaking countries(and thatof Sweden forthatmatter)as homogenous. This viewconstitutes a regrettable (in our opinof the concept of ion) lack of problematization culture. A reifiedconceptionof culturecan also be inferredfromthe syllabi.Culture is presentedas somethingthatcan be studied and learned, not everalludingto theproblemsthatarisewhenone is approachingsomething thathas been implicitly definedas alien.Jauss's (2001) notion of horizon sheds lighton the factthatin addition to being functionaland changeable, culturesare understood differently observers: bydifferent

In other words,othernessis a constituent part communication. of literary Dialogue will not be possible ifstudents(and teachers)do not accept and discussall of the problemsentailedin trying culture. to "learn,"in our specific case, a foreign Literatureis not introducedas a verbal form neiof artistic expressionin anyof the 16 syllabi; issue related to literature theris any theoretical mentioned.This lack or the readingof literature of a consistent literary-oriented approach relates forincluding to our own twostandardarguments in language courses presentedin the literature beginningof thisarticle.There are a fewcases, in which the more "literary" however, aspects of leftaside. Consider are not completely literature thefollowing example:
it is impor(8) Besides reading prose as literature, so thattheyalso tantto studythe textscarefully serve the purpose of developing the student's about language.This can be achieved knowledge by continuously takingnote of new vocabulary, etc. (Sylgrammaticalstructures, phraseology, first labus SPAA02,Ume University, semester)

In this syllabus,an awareness of the existence modes of reading is implied in the of different It mustbe phrase "readingprose as literature." noted, though,thatwhereasthe idea of reading literaturequa literatureis presented in a subthe ordinate clause and not developed further, opposite occurs withthe idea about using literature to learn more about the second language. Apartfromthe factthatthe latteris broughtforfolward in the main clause, it is immediately about how to bring lowed bydetailed indications beestablished thecontrast itabout.Furthermore, and "studying tween"readingprose as literature" the textscarefully" mightsuggestthat "reading is consideredto be a less deprose as literature" mandingtask.Thisjudgmentleavesno real room that "reading prose as literafor the possibility with atture" mightalso require carefulstudy, tentionto,forexample,a work'snarrative voices, relaand diverseintertextual levelsof narration, in The oppositionestablished tionsto othertexts. thissyllabus betweentwokindsof readingthereberelation hierarchic foreexposesan underlying in foreign tweenlanguageand literature language studies.

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

and AndreaCastro CeciliaAlvstad Other syllabiintroducethe idea of analyzing texts: literary


aim is textcomprehension, further(9) The primary more the worksare to be analyzed with basic methods,and finally text-analytic theyshould be framedin theirliterary, culturaland historical the readingofabout 300 pages context, through of specialized literature. (SyllabusSP2400, Uniof Gothenburg, second semester) versity of vocabulary and oral pro(10) An intensetraining should ensue when the contentsand ficiency the literary analysisof the textsare presented. second (SyllabusHSPB02, LinkpingUniversity, semester) textsis trained. (11) The capacityto analyze literary second (Syllabus 5SP210, Uppsala University, semester)

175 In consideringthe importanceof trainingstudentsin bothexpressing and reacting to a variety ofinterpretations thattheliterary workmaybring focuseson a fundamental asabout, thissyllabus (viz.,polysemy). pect of literature Consequently, thesyllabus at leastin part, thereleacknowledges, vance of readingliterature duringlanguage studies, as discussionsabout literature, reading,and to a wider interpretations mightwell contribute consciousnessof the multiplicity and complexity ofliterary texts. We would like to suggest thatthis is a to the syllabus good beginning processofarticulatingan answerto the questionofwhatspecific benefits the readingof literature (as opposed to the reading of other kinds of text) may have to offer students and teachers. THE TEACHERS' STATEMENTS To approach university teachers' conceptions about therole(s) ofliterature in languagecourses, we distributed a questionnaireto the 15 teachers modules in the who were responsibleforliterary first and the second Spanish courses at Swedish universities duringthe fallof 2004. Eleven teachuniversities reers workingat seven different We anticipated sponded to the questionnaire.14 thatthe syllabiand the questionnaireresponses conclusions.We different mightpoint to slightly the twosourcesbyantherefore chose to contrast thatare exalyzingthe conceptionsof literature within them. and pressed (explicitly implicitly) The questionnaireconsistedof 28 questions. Most items invitedthe teachers to writeabout some aspectoftheir teaching(theirgoals,choices of books to be studied, pedagogical methods, Their answers examination,and the syllabi).15 should be understood as informal, semispontaof theirideas about the role neous articulations in language learning.They gave us of literature of the teachers'ideas access to a certainspectrum not to the fullrange of theirideas but,naturally, or to the actual classroompracabout literature it is our potices.Assessedas a whole, however, sitionthatthe questionnairesprovideda revealglimpseat theseparticular ing (albeit unofficial) teachers'valuesand beliefs. The teachers' statements proved to manifest withtheformulations contained manysimilarities in the syllabi.We do not find this particularly as the teachersare, of course, familsurprising, about goals expressed iar withthe formulations in the syllabi.As a matterof fact,the teachers involvedwere at the time guided by 1 or more of the 16 syllabi analyzedin the previoussection.

In these examples,we welcome the presence of an analytic, stance,which highly process-oriented views constrasts withthe more product-oriented by other syllabi.Still,we see a broughtforward as an end in itself in presenting risk (as in analysis leavingaside thereaExamples9 and 10) , thereby sons whyone ought to analyzetexts.In Example fromcontex9, textualanalysisis differentiated whichimpliesthatthese of the text, tual framing In Examare consideredto be separateactivities. to meet an we do 11, approach analysisas a ple tobe trained. as a capacity is it presented process muchis said about However, here,again,nothing should whatthiscapacitymeans or whyanybody endeavorto trainit. is that, more ofThe main problemwe identify is presentedas the ten than not,literary analysis mere applicationof a model and not, forexample, as a means of developingwaysof readingto of the text,oneself, gain a betterunderstanding A possibleconsequence is thatstuor theworld.13 dents mightbe led to adopt a surfaceapproach to reading,in particular(or to learning,in genfact eral). Takinginto account the fundamental thatsyllabiought not onlyto guide teachersbut to underin theirworkwhen trying also students stand what is expected of them,these kinds of mustbe seen as counterproductive, formulations leastconfusing. or at thevery thatstandsout againstthe There is one syllabus in following the in thatit (however others, briefly, ofthegenre) callsup thecomplexity conventions of literature:
textsis completedwith (12) The readingof [literary] the skillsof proliterary analysis.Furthermore, of ducing and meetingvarious interpretations the worksread are developed. (Syllabus 2840, second semester) Stockholm University,

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

176

93 (2009) TheModern Language Journal

of language, in thedrafting Somehad evenbeen involved of the teachers use the keyconcepts in their statements. thesedocuments. andliterature there werecon- culture, Furthermore, crete in the aboutspecific formulations questions teachers' in the syllabus respective questionnaire, which haveenhanced aware- Teachers theteachers' might on Language nessofthese in theprodocuments while guiding feamentioned cessofanswering thequestions. The most linguistic frequently statements Whenwe formulated a questionaskingthe ture isvocabulary by (e.g., acquisition tostudy aresupposed teachers to interpret certain wordsor passages T4,T5,andT10). Students of the books from their weassumed that learnthevocabulary they and actively respective syllabi, or lists word wouldadopta critical stancetoward thesefor- they tests read.Vocabulary (through form ofthe to learn short mulations. Weweretherefore translation tasks) frequently part surprised that coursein question most oftheteachers answered thequestion examsof theliterature (e.g., - thatis,commenting on theformula- those ofT2,T10,andTil). neutrally inthecourses feature tions as ifthey were setin stone, instead ofpointAnother taught linguistic Asone oftheteachers theformulations putit,thestuingat possible problems might is grammar. their whenimplemented. to"strengthen aresupposed grammatgenerate Onlyone of the dents teacher declared teachers As we will ical knowledge" (T6) metour expectations. (T4). Another andnot see below, the thisteacher stated that she16 discuss that one clearly may "why subjunctive or context does notsharetheunderlying theoretical back- theindicative moodisusedina specific arebestporbone of the syllabus thatis supposedto guide why ofthestory thedurative aspects tense" her.Although the trayed theuse oftheimperfect with (T9). challenged onlyone teacher have a students of that the formulations the A third teacher stated many underlying assumptions itshould 4 teachers literature thanlinbe notedthat left this morepositive attitude toward syllabi, of theliterary A possible for guistics certain elements unanswered. and that question explanation use of indithis or the omission is that thequestion have raised as works (such periphrasis, may a certain can therefore or doubton thepart rector overly levelofinsecurity intricate language) conoftheteachers. and compare be used to train grammatical andso on (T8). The mostsalient informa- structions, between elements, similarity pragmatic tionexpressed in the teachers' stance toward statements and The linguistic and instrumental the information in the syllabi is the fre- thereading contained ofliterature furthering comprises butalsoofproduction ofcomprehension quent use of the key conceptsof language, notonly arealsoused texts and literature. More oftenthan not, abilities. culture, literary Consequently, of oral and written teachers used theseconcepts without comment- as material fortheteaching or complexity, which we ingon their vagueness (e.g.,byT6 and T10). Aswesawin proficiencies with the find ofthecasualway reminiscent that these con- theprevious this section, usagedovetails ofthe Til ina number For example, setforth formulations ceptsare used in thesyllabi. explicit usedall three words whenexpressing one ofher syllabi. thecourse: that intention is to,through Several teachers aspects goalsfor linguistic "My reported Ifthestuworks. transmit abouta) thelan- affected choiceofliterary their literature, knowledge as is ourtooland ourgoal,b) culture dents as far which consider a booktobe toodifficult guage, and society it will and c) literature and literary is for concerned, likely analy- language example, sis."17 in theut- be replacedby another, Another can be found morecomprehensible example of T10, who pointedout thatthe stu- source. this decision terance Twoteachers rationalized by dentsshouldwork with thetexts on thefollow- stating wouldnotbe of anybenethatthetext it levels: ifthey do notunderstand and fit forthestudents historical/ cultural, ingthree linguistic, wrote the teachers (T4 and T9). Furthermore, literary. to Another and the thatan overly book might contribute between thesyllabi similarity taxing of literteachers' statements isthat all11 clearly the reading attitude toward expressed a negative instrumental stancestoward the reading of lit- arytexts. to the questionnaire data, According erature. is seen as a wayof developing language-related considerations arehighly Reading imporexaminations. and acquiring and inthecontext ofend-of-course tant linguistic competence literary cultural It is especially be able to unstudents must knowledge. noteworthy To passtheexams, that there on an account wasconsiderable overall derstand thetext give emphasis "linguistically," andin subsection we themselves and express ofthestory, linguistic orally goals.In the following an accountof (and comment in a comprehensible (Tl). on) how writing provide way

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

and AndreaCastro CeciliaAlvstad

177

The formulation is of literature to thegoal of developing students' "linguistic understanding" in that itreveals a differentiation be- linguistic interesting competence. tween ofunderstanding, kinds towhich One possible ofstrengthening theposition according way wouldconnote would be tobackup theteachers' arlinguistic understanding making ofliterature senseofthewords ofthetext. this dis- gumentation with Riffaterre 's (1978) distinction However, tinction raisesthequestion of howotherkinds between theheuristic and hermeneutic of stages ofunderstanding couldbe characterized. Other reading: teachers make similar an example of distinctions; This first, heuristic this is provided thestudents inreading is also where the first byT2, whowanted takesplace, sinceitis duringthisreading to understand boththe languageand the conterpretation thatmeaning isapprehended.The reader'sinputis his tent.(She did not,however, provide anyfurther whichincludesan assumption linguistic competence, details abouthowto understand thisformulaic that language is referential It also includes the dichotomy.) reader'sability to perceiveincompatibilities between On thewhole, there isa strong on linemphasis words:forinstance, to identify and figures, that tropes in theteachers' statements. With guistic aspects is, to recognizethata wordor phrasedoes not make one exception (T7,whodidnotmention linguisliteralsense The second stageis thatof retroactive tic issuesat all), all others thatthe This is the timefora second interpretation, expressed reading. of literary texts is an important forthe truly hermeneutic reading partof reading, (p. 5) of On the students' training linguistic capacities. Fromthisperspective, we can regard linguistic seemsreasonable one hand,thisposition given as a inthereadfundamental comprehension step thatthe students are in factin the processof butonly as a first step among possible and that do haveto de- ingprocess, a language they learning others. Further include hermeneusteps might measure of a linguistic compevelop satisfactory whichstudents (as wellas through wehavetobearinmind tic reading tence. On theother hand, could a further understandteachers) develop ofthecourse aremoreexplicitly that other parts oftheliterary text. on and talking Reflecting suchcapabilities aimedat developing (grammar, ing abouthowtexts are read at different junctures In . addiwritten oralproficiency, etc.) proficiency, theaimofeachreading is (e.g.,heuristexts contain so-called andwhat tion, usually many literary an ,canhelpstudents develop lexi- ticorhermeneutic) ofvarious from kinds, "ungrammaticalities" awareness oftheprocess ofreading literature as a toillogical and deviations calandsyntactical leaps one that trains morecompetences than complex is therefore not It 1978). (Riffaterre, paradoxes linguistic. con- themerely oflanguage should that thetraining obvious also in thelitstitute thepredominant objective in their modules. statements, Teacherson Culture Interestingly, erary seem to give even more importhe teachers With to thekey ofculture, we issuesthanthesyllabi tanceto language-related regard concept in can the teachers' a statements do. verify vagueusof the term that dovetails with the formulathe instruWe wonderwhyteachers age regard in In the tions the first of the to be most d'tre the raison syllabi. following mentally linguistic arepresented texts as a source one. Do theybelieveit to be the quotations, literary important of about culture. Thus, of the existence literature best wayto justify knowledge knowledge apthat readers canacquire in the syllabi and/or pearshereas something students, (to themselves, colleagues)?We take this passively: nonliterary-oriented the without to be likely. Nevertheless, refuting texts Theliterary areused asa material that canteach textscan enfactthatthe readingof literary us things about the culture the counof Spanish-speaking that we claim hance students' skills, linguistic tries look at We that idis, language, vocabulary, injustifying risk litinvolved there isconsiderable iomatic and grammatical as expressions problems, on predominantly instrumental- well as modules erary are related to thesocio-cultural contents,which As it has not been ascerlinguistic grounds. and historical context. (Til, emphasisadded) tainedthatliterary language readingfurthers thantheread- In thelatter in moreefficient section ofthis weobserve a utterance, ways acquisition tolinguis- traditional oftheliterary text accordarticles, referring ingof, say, newspaper conception does notfully oriented thetext, as language justify ingtowhich tically arguments comprehended incourse ofliterary modules in theinclusion thecouplet extension, form/content syllabi. comprises modeofargumentation this On thecontrary, In thisopposition, relation. cononly in a hierarchic lackofapplicability tent serves to highlight is related to thesociocultural and historical potential

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

178 whereasformstands by itself.Form is contexts, isothusconsideredto be neutraland ahistorical, lated fromthe mentioned contexts.These and view similarformulations reproducea simplified ofliterature and itsrelations to language and culture. In the following the idea of the litutterance, erarytextas a source of knowledgeis presented vantage:"To again, but froma more interesting me, the biggestchallenge is to get studentsto see how much theycan learn fromreading literaall in one, ifonly ture. history, Language, culture, you givethemthe tools" (Til, emphasisadded). This utterancepoints to the importanceof having (conceptual) tools that make it possible to access knowledge. The teachertalkedabout helpseethatthereis much to be learned ing students She underlined the throughreading literature. of instead the result the seeingand the process - and mentionedthe importanceof proreading tools.To withmethodological vidingthe students make students conscious of different methodsis a good wayof helping them to develop deeper approaches to learning.Anotherteacherwanted "to give the studentsan insight into the history and culture of the Spanish-speaking countries" (T7; emphasisadded). We believethatthechoice to use this particularword is especiallyimportantbecause it focuseson a proceduralaspect of in new thathas todo with knowledge seeingthings ways. While pointingout the multilayered qualityof one teacherconceptualizedthe lintexts, literary withnew words guisticaspectsof a text ("a story and grammaticaldifficulties") as a doorwayto otherkindsof insights and knowledge:
I introduce,littleby little,the possibility Personally, forstudents to grasp thata literary textis not onlya I difficulties. with new words and story grammatical to help themrealizethata textopens the possibiltry to read "between the lines"a numberof ofstarting ity underwillhelp thembetter aspectsand elementsthat that and theworld-view of thewriters standthe reality theculture and thelanguagethey [thestudents] represent aretrying tolearn.(T4, emphasisadded)

93 (2009) TheModemLanguage Journal be a veryinteresting granted.It would certainly pointfora discussionabout the relations starting writers, society, language, and among literature, culture,as it would allow studentsto experience culturaltheories, and become aware of different ones. older as well as current course, Commentingon a syllabusfor a first one of the teachersstatedthe following: "Myin... is to take a step awayfromliterature tention and treatother culturalphenomena in order to is a part of culture The show that literature and literary contentsare discussedfromcultural aspects"(T10, emphasisadded). Withthe phrase "otherculturalphenomena,"we believe thatthe such as to otherkindsoftexts, teacheris referring newspaperarticlesor reviews.(These references are more obvious in a part of her answerthatis not included here.) The teacher expressed her as belonging literature intentof demonstrating work.This move to a larger contextof written could serve as a good point to situateliterature in whichliterature from whichto discusstheways informs cultureand what the specificcontribube. Keeping to culturemight tion(s) of literature in mind the fact that no cultureis monolithic, this view could perhaps instigatediscussionsof cultureto not only to whatculturebut to whose Withregardto the second part we are referring. of the quotation,the question arises as to what the culturalaspects discussed in relationto the content are. Once more, we note that content of discussionin relationto culis deemed worthy form whereas ture, appearstohavebeen implicitly leftout of the discussion. mentionedearlier,one teacher'sreAs briefly sponse seems to characterizethe syllabusas a somewhatformulaicand emptydocument,thus toward attitude a distancedand critical expressing it:
I takeitas a mere thespecific formulation, Regarding since I do not believe in bureaucraticdescription, I of society. of artas a reflection the obsolete theory and construct rather believe thattextsrepresent poswith kindsofrelations sibleworldsthatkeep diffrent are productsof the real world,and thatthey certainly and a culturebut at the same timeproduce a society thatculture.(T6)

Here, theconceptofculturerelatesto thewriters' nationalor regionalbelonging.The writers "representthecultureand thelanguage thatthey[the are trying to learn."According to our instudents] ofthisutterance, itis through literary terpretation and textsthatstudents have access to the reality The utterance worldview the writers. expressedby toward a clear theoretical represents positioning the readingof literature as faras thisformuthat, lationis concerned,seems largely to be takenfor

letsthe teacher fromthe syllabus This distancing thepositedrelationherownstancetoward affirm ship between literatureand culture.The statement calls attentionto the navet inherentto in relationship presupposingsuch a hierarchical our (post)modern age, and instead it proposes "the real of textualstancesvis--vis a wide variety world."

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

and AndreaCastro CeciliaAlvstad In answeringanother question, the same rethesubspondentpointedto theneed ofstudying in other She and culture modules. ject's history also argued thatbothof theseconceptsshould be in someway. relatedback to literature These statebeliefthatliterature her underlying mentsreflect should not be the onlysource forlearningabout and culture. history
Teacherson Literature

179 betweenthe teachers'statements and the syllabi. One of thefrequent similarities appears in therecurrent use of thewordsliterary and interanalysis One oftheteachers formulated hergoal pretation. as one of making"students learn to use elementary conceptsof literary analysis"(Til), whereas another wished that students"shall become cathe textfollowing some elepable of interpreting ofanalyzing literature" (T6) . A third mentary ways teachersaid: "I also teach themliterary concepts so thattheycan use themin theiranalysis" (Tl). These ideas come acrossas rather and undefined, it is difficult to pictureexactly whatthe teachers wantto promote, or how. why, From the questionnaires it also becomes clear that the teacherswant to further the students' withregardto bothlitgeneralliterary knowledge and theory. The teachers referto eraryhistory
and compoconcepts such as genre, narratologyy

It is an underlying assumptionin manyof the thatliterary texts havespecial teachers'utterances qualitiesthatothertextsdo not have and, thereare believedto be especially wellsuited fore,they wrotethatit forthestudents. One of the teachers see how much to "makethestudents is important as comparedto,forexamtexttransmits a literary she ple, a newspaperarticle"(T7). Interestingly, what itis thatliterary texts transmit did notspecify In otherwords, thatothertextsdo not transmit. from textsdiffer she took as a giventhatliterary inwhat Thereand did notspecify othertexts ways. becomes the"howmuch"in herformulation fore, we findthe phrase "the very vague. Additionally, as itpresuptexttransmits" interesting, especially poses an active text and a passive receiverand in the involved a readeractively not,forinstance, In this forshort of meaning. composing process theoretical we thusmeetseveralimplicit mulation positionings. an utterance We now revisit quoted in an partly earliersection:

To me, the biggestchallenge is to make studentsrealize how much theycan learn fromreading literaI know thatmanynew studentscannot unture but at the end of is good for, whatliterature derstand the course theyare oftenastonishedat whatreading has giventhem.There lies thegreatpleasureofteacha more should constitute ing,and I believeliterature sizeableportionoflanguageteaching.(Til, emphasis added)

and the nonbetweenthe literary The difference is felt to reside in in these statements literary the textitselfand not in the stance the reader thereis no conadopts towardthe text.However, scholarsregardingthisissensus among literary like theorists sue. Text-oriented reader-response Iser (1980) and Stierle(1980) regardthe literary as somethingthat resides in the text.However, more reader-oriented scholars, such as Rosento the thereader'srelationship blatt(1978), stress text.18 are conAs faras theliterary-oriented objectives and differences cerned,thereare bothsimilarities

sitionwhen expressingtheir objectives.One of the teachersstated: "I want them to simultaneand ouslylearn about the content,the structure the narrative of the works" . An(T7) techniques otherteachercommented:"In the first class and everytime a new literary genre appears I teach them basic notions of literary theory"(T6). A "to be able to thirdteacherrequiredthe students and to givea rough identify literary key-concepts of the work"(T8). Still account of the structure asanotherteacherincluded"relevant theoretical and , (T9) providing tropology, metaphors, pects" as examplesofwhatthesewould be. metonyms Some of these literary-oriented intentions clearlygo beyond what is expressed in the syllabi. As we have drawnattentionto earlier,literin anyofthe is notmentionedexplicitly arytheory no references to specifand, consequently, syllabi like or icallyliterary concepts genre,narratology, made. on are This the "transgression" tropology part of the teacherswould seem to indicatethat in mind above and betheybear otherobjectives in those the syllabi.By promotpresented yond on the ing deeper literary-theoretical knowledge an understanding ofliterary texts partofstudents, as worksof art related to other formsof artistic This and literary expressionmightbe furthered. to the also draw attention might understanding ofartto expand thereader'sconsciousness ability from a novelper(i.e., tomakeherconsiderthings much on Of course, depends howthese spective). issuesare handled in class. and otherliterary
Noninstrumental Approachesto Literature

In the questionnaires gathered,thereare also that do not have a a number of formulations

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

180

93 (2009) TheModern Language Journal

are inthesyllabi. Theseformulations counterpart andmotivathestudents' oriented toward feelings wrote that tions. Forexample, one oftheteachers discover intent is to "try tojointly thecommon to themystery ofliterature. Butaboveall,I want in reading and to helpthem awaken an interest learn todo soina critical [the students] (T8). way" "toloveliterature, Another wanted thestudents thatit is interestthatthey come to understand declared that (T6). A third ingand entertaining" theexchange she "tries to createa spacewhere aboutthetexts ofreflections, ideasand feelings in turn, it"imfound is possible" (T3). A fourth, the learntounderstand that thestudents portant not works are valueofliterary that works, literary (T7). luxury goodsbuta realnecessity" In theseformulations, we meet conceptions theconsisof literature at oddswith completely of the The instrumental syllabi. tently approaches is in thesestatements mainobjective expressed with theliterary to helpstudents engageactively it shouldbe noted texts involved. Additionally, thecritthat one oftheteachers (T8) mentioned ical perspective bythe HigherEducarequired and tionActthatis missing bothin the syllabi to thequestionnaires. We in most oftheanswers theselatter wouldliketo proposethat teacherly than oriented are moreaesthetically approaches oftheother aboveformulations, according many for towhich is readprimarily literature language orculture The verbs awaken, discover, acquisition. an approach to learnand love understand, signal orirather thanproduct ing thatis procedural teachers whoactually ented. Therearealsoa few a litof interpreting alludedto thevarious ways of work theimportance and whostressed erary One of the different interpretations. discussing to them is T3,as seenearlier. Another wrote that to venare the the students course, pass required ownpoint ofview ture thefollowing: "from their thework" daretodiscuss other ofconceiving ways (T8). to the To summarize our arguments, answers items a morecomplex picprovide questionnaire in language thanthe tureof literature learning do. As partof theteachers' syllabi conceptions, that thereare also literary-oriented approaches in thesyllabi. To some do nothavea counterpart canbe saidtobe theteachers' statements extent, of moreoriented toward thepoeticdimensions be noted thanthesyllabi, butitshould literature in theteachers' statethat theaesthetical stances ments are notemphasized, let alone elaborated in the comesacross upon.Generally, knowledge from the that canbe passed asa product responses in than as a process teacher tothestudent rather

Furthermust which thestudent actively engage. of tend tobeseenascontainers texts more, literary be consumed. to Consequently, ready knowledge andthesyllabi, formulations inboth theteachers' in as an activity is paid to reading litdeattention can readers or to thevarious itsownright ways formulaIn someofthebrief with texts. interact is from tions we havereceived teachers, learning inknowlas an increase presented predominantly and,in somecases, applicaedge,memorization, tobe fociprove thegeneral tion. In other words, tolearning surface heldon thethree approaches earlier. as presented CONCLUSION has been to proof thisarticle The objective inuniofliterature theroles about mote reflection careful courses. analysis Through versity language - expressed incourse views ofimplicit andexplicit andinteachers' responses questionnaire syllabi a number and discuss to explore wehavesought in universitytexts forreading ofreasons literary we the curricula. level way, Along language foreign ourownassumptions to revise havehad occasion andinourcolin thesyllabi reflected (frequently in role ofliterature the about utterances) leagues' us this hasallowed courses. Altogether, language moreclearly offormulating methods to develop in curricuto be crucial what we consider topics lumdesign. thatthekeyconout byobserving We started tend and culture language, ceptsof literature, in an unproblematized to be employed manner, utterances. and in teachers' bothin the syllabi ofsimpliThisusageleadsto therepresentation are These concepts fiedideas and distinctions. of the all sylthroughout frequently employed are to note thatthey labi,and it is interesting as ifthere usedwithout almost definitions, always abouttheir couldbe nodoubt However, meaning. areexceedingly and literature culture, language, in be understood that canonly complex concepts in thesyllabi Forexample, toeachother. relation theword"literature" whether it is often unclear texts more or less canonized refers to literary only or ifitencompasses literary expressions, popular is an imprecision there as well.Similarly, regardas a sepais understood literature ing whether ofculture oras an integral rate part phenomenon Thesearevexing and culture"). (as in "literature definitions morecomplex that require questions The mainissueis wouldallow. thananysyllabus but that defined are imprecisely not thatterms or alludeto thecomdo notmention thesyllabi arepresented Instead terms. ofthese they plexity

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

andAndrea Castro Cecilia Alvstad

181

a position that we find as clearand self-evident, We suggest thatliterary modules willbenefit from theformulation ofmore problematic. specifically literary shows Further thatthe objectives ex- or aesthetic that takeintoaccount the analysis objectives in for the both the dimensions of literature and hence differ modules, literary pressed poetic answers and in theteachers' to ourques- from theonesofthelanguage course as a whole. syllabi oriented. The formulation are mainly ofsuchobjectives would littionnaire, instrumentally give to literature is primarily Thisapproach focused erature a clearer andmore solid placeinlanguage ofnot butculture, as In orderto formulate on acquisition or syllabi. justlanguage specific literary idea is that liter- aesthetic well.The predominant webelieve that itis necessary reading objectives, willallowstudents to learnvocabulary, tofocus on learning as a process a cer(inwhich arytexts about literaofdistancing as well as tain from thematerial is rethings grammar, degree phrases, is takento rather than and society. Literature on as a culture, ture, quired) knowledge product. such know- Moreover, weconsider thedevelopment ofknowmoreor less automatically provide is mentioned about ledgeand awareness abouthowtexts are readto anything ledge,and hardly or experiences be oftheutmost in turn, fosthespecific which, questions, importance, problems, In the ofliterary works entail. ters awareness of idea that thereading different of that might ways for lead todifferent kinds oflearning. theobjectives these reading therefore, may respects, many from thegeneral We deem it essential to underscore theactivdo notdiffer modules literary of as a whole. The as an Thisbecourse for the ity reading interpretive process. language objectives the one to be is also when included instrumental case, ing specific objective approach predominant of students' awareness of what couldbe considered literary objec- wouldbe theincrease specific case is the factthatliterary textsare polysmie, The mostcommon that are mentioned. tives as are many of interpreting a text, is presented there and texts ofliterary whenthereading ways situated histhat these are and conabout ofacquiring a way ways historically literary knowledge modules inundergradthetexts toextract strained. ison using (i.e.,thefocus Literary-oriented tory can takeas a pointofdeparture rather thanon the uateeducation kindofknowledge, a certain Amand polysemy ofliterary texts. theambiguity . works themselves) literary invite readers to reflect and arrive texts at teachers' answers the fact that the biguous Despite about what isbeing said conclusions some independent are by-and-large oriented, instrumentally tendto arguefortheir of en- and how.Students the importance of themdo underscore own, in turn, texts often the to students the which, divergent they interpretations, analyze couraging aboutbasiccomplexities lead to discussions as a could be interpreted read. This emphasis may and reading. Arediverging and noninstrumen- ofliterature a procedural ofstressing interpreway that thetext itself for- tations related tothefact talaspectoflearning. However, opens bythebrief of interpretation, or that up forvarious we could infer we encountered, mulations possibilities to individual related readers as a nearare viewed is textual they primarily analysis generally ofknowledge, life arepre- andtheir andliterary texts mechanical particular body expeapplication, In what beliefs? doesknowlsentedas sitesamenableto such applications. riences, and/or ways and cultural context of in the edgeaboutthehistorical formulated the objectives Consequently, in affect its text within the the lie the teachers and literary question interpretabasically syllabi by in what does knowledge et al. (1993) and Bowden tion? Marton Additionally, ways rangeofwhat thereading? Cansome traditions affect as a surface andMarton (1998)defined approach ofliterary said be more valid than othbe to tolearning. interpretations it is not possible to givesimple togen- ers?Of course, deference theteachers' that Webelieve butpayto theseoft-debated whenteaching answers eral and instrumental questions, objectives in syllabi and in classwill to them toan attributed canbe,atleast literature ingattention partially, oftheir ownways of becomeaware oflitera- helpstudents thestatus tojustify on their part anxiety butalso that notonly texts andofthefact studies. reading ofuniversity in thecontext ture language ofthose texts areculturofthis readings/ an important interpretations consequence Unfortunately, In other situated. as wellas historically to thedesired ally becomes words, contrary argumentation - notenhances that is not cometo realize students undermines one. It effectively reading may is precisely as evinced of literature, theposition (Thisrealization activity. bythefol- an innocent ofliterature can strengthen the thereading Ifliterature does notintroduce why lowing paradox: ofindependent andabilities orprovide benefits, students' capabilities any specific specific anything We believe thatthisis a a specific shoulditconstitute judgment.) partofuniver- and critical why Education as the studies? Act, by stipulated Higher goal, language sity

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

182 toward whichall undergraduate educationought to aim. To sum up, in thisarticlewe have triedto draw attention to how crucial it is thatthe reading of literature in languagesyllabi is presentedand carriedout on itsown terms. Ratherthansuggesting a formula we have emphaon how to achievethis, sized the importanceof includingopportunities and forreflection about the natureof literature We havealso emphasized readingin coursesyllabi. doctheimportance oftheseand otherregulating umentsin encouragingteachersto continuously fosterawarenessof their own and of their students' previously unexaminedassumptions.
NOTES con1Kramsch and Kramsch(2000) studieddifferent in articles ceptionsofliterature publishedin theModern LanguageJournalduring the period 1916-1999. They literaconcluded that "throughoutthe 20th century, turehas been givenmanypurposes in language study. It has been used forthe aestheticeducation of the few of men (1920s), formoral and (1910s), forthe literacy vocationaluplift(1930s-1940s), forideational content (1960s-1970s), and (1950s), forhumanistic inspiration for providingan 'authentic* finally experience of the culture(1980s-1990s)" (p. 568). target 2See Shanahan (1997) for a discussionabout how faith "to develop a systematic rationaleforthe intuitive in the thatmanyof us place in the value of literature languagelearningexperience"(p. 169). 3The hierarchic within U.S. academia as desituation scribed by the MLA reportand by Scott and Tucker (2002) does not apply to Swedish academia. This descriptionshows an inherentinequalityby which the "literature group" (teachers of foreign language literature) is the "elite" in relation to the SLA group who explorehow a second language is ac("researchers in foreignlanguage teachingand quired," "specialists teaching assistantsupervilearning,"and "university sors";Scott& Tucker,pp. ix-x). In Swedishacademia, the "literature group" withinforeignlanguage departmentshas traditionally not reallybeen considered "inor tellectualenough" by their comparativeliterature philosophycolleagues. This means that the hierarchy based on "real intellectualism" describedby Scott and Tuckerexistsin Swedishacademia, but it ranksas "second class"all teachers within foreign languages;whereas withinforeignlanguages there is no clear hierarchy, since both language and literature teachersdo both researchand teaching. 4Martonet al. (1993) started offfromSlj's (1979) of fiveconceptionsof learning.In addition description to trying "to characterize the conceptionsin greater detail" (Marton et al., 1993, p. 283), theyadd the sixth conception. In a discussion about how literary textscan contribute to develop criticalthinking skillsin the context

93 (2009) TheModemLanguage Journal


of foreignlanguage teachingin Americanuniversities, ideas. Schultz(2002, pp. 10-13) drewupon similar of In termsof the Common European Framework levelforthe first ReferenceforLanguages,the starting semester is A2-B1, and for the second semester,it isB2. of the Higher Education 'Followingthe regulations coverthe folin Swedishuniversities Ordinance,syllabi lowingaspects: (a) generalaims of the course, (b) contents,(c) formsof instruction, (d) waysof assessment and evaluation,and (e) marksthat may be achieved. Reading listsare usuallyspecifiedseparately. and all italicsare ours. of the syllabi 8A11 translations 9Accordingto Thorson (2005), the individualreadread on theirown and think ing occurswhen students about theirreading,whereas the collectivereading is what ensues in the classroom situationor when discussingthe textwithotherpeople. to the 1960s,lanthelate eighteenth 10"From century schools in in manycountries guage learning secondary had come to be dominatedby whatwas knownas the exercises Translation method grammar-translation were regardedas a means of learninga new language or of reading a foreignlanguage text until one had the to read the original.However, the linguistic ability disreinto method fell increasing grammar-translation in manyEnglish-language countries, pute, particularly withthe riseofthe directmethodor communicative approach to Englishlanguage teachingin the 1960s and on students'natural 1970s. This approach places stress to replicate'auto learnlanguageand attempts capacity in theclassroom." conditions thentic' languagelearning 2001, pp. 7-8). (Munday, 11 enmeshedin a setofpower is ... always "Translation conthatexistin boththesourceand thetarget relations texts.The problem of decoding a textfora translator so much more than language,despite the fact involves textis itslanguage. Morethatthe basis of anywritten whathappens in ofunderstanding the importance over, the translation process lies at the heart of our underof theworldwe inhabit"(Bassnett8cLefevere, standing 1998,p. 137). 12Eagleton(2000, p. 34) suggestedthatwhen one equates the cultural with the social, the concept of Greenblatt(1995) also cultureis renderedineffective. commented on this issue: "'Culture' is a termthat is at used without meaningmuch of anything repeatedly a dimly all, a vague gesturetoward perceivedethos:aristocraticculture,youthculture,human culture.There - without with such gestures is nothing wrong especially three be able togetthrough themwewouldn'tordinarily - but theyare scarcelythe backconsecutivesentences criticalpractice"(p. 225). Both bone of an innovative touchedupon the nodal point Eagletonand Greenblatt that needs to be addressed. The vague usage of cul- willnot - a keytermin language studies turein syllabi of the the to students concept complexity perceive help to the critical nor contribute judgment thatuniversity coursesshould foster. 13 fromdefining what literary We refrain analysisis, conbut we believe that these syllabimightwrongly thatliterary tribute to the idea among students analysis

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

and AndreaCastro CeciliaAlvstad


involves merely learninghow to "pick"different literary or to whatend. The deviceswithout why understanding following quote comes froma studentrecallinga literature class in eighth grade as Miall (1996) recorded it: "We did an Edgar Allan Poe poem: we did The Raven.'. . . She got us to look forspecificexamples of and irony, etc. We did a devices,like symbolism literary lot ofpickingout of things withthatand other likethat, classsitpoems."Althoughitdoes not recalla university illustrative of how thingscan turnout uation,it is very are good. badlyevenwhen intentions 14 We assume that all of the teachersfelta certain the questionnaire. timepressure when answering Compared to other European countries,Swedish modern vocationalsituation, language teachershave a difficult oftenworkin smalldepartments withfewteachas they ers and researchers and withscantstudentloyalty: Less semester thanhalfof thosewho enrollthe first go on to fewindeed continue to the third the second, and very and thefourth semesters (Enkvist, 2005) . Some teachers refer to theirperceivedheavy explicitly teachingload in theiranswers. 15 The questionnairewas prepared in collaboration with Sonia Lagerwall,Ph.D., and other members of and Desautomatization: the project"Estrangement Approaches to Literaturein Academic Teaching Situations."We also wish to thankthe 11 teacherswho anmembers as wellas our fellow sweredthe questionnaire of of the projectfortheircommentson severaldrafts thisarticle. the teachers'anonymity we referto all lbTo warrant withfeminine the teachers pronouns. 17 so We have numberedthe questionnaires/teachers of the same teachercan be rethatseveralstatements Tl stands latedto each otherbythereaderofthisarticle. Because forTeacher 1, T2 forTeacher 2, and so forth. answeredeitherin Swedishor in Spanthe respondents are our own.All italicsin the teachish,all translations ers' quotes are also ours. 18Rosenblatt(1978) identifiedtwo kinds of reador efferent. These ing: an aestheticand a nonaesthetic should be understoodas the twopoles of a continuum. concernis "In aesthetic reading,. . . thereader'sprimary the actual readingevent withwhathappens during on whatheis living is centered Thereader's attention directly withthatparticular text" through duringhis relationship oi "non-aesthetic reading, (pp. 24-25). In an efferent on whatwill is focusedprimarily the reader'sattention - the informathe reading remainas the residue after tion to be acquired, the logical solutionto a problem, the actionsto be carriedout" (p. 23) .

183

LMS Lingua, 2, language teachingat university. 13-24. lanDavis, J.N. (1989) . The act ofreadingin theforeign of Iser's Readerguage: Pedagogical implications Response Theory.ModernLanguageJournal,73, 420-428. Davis,J. N., Gorell, L. C, Kline, R. R., 8c Hsieh, G. (1992). Readers and foreignlanguages: A surveyof undergraduateattitudestowardthe study of literature. Modern LanguageJournal,76', 320332. Oxford,UK* Eagleton, T. (2000). The idea of culture. Blackwell Publishers. I. (2005). Trngdmellanpolitik ochpedagogik. Enkvist, Svensk 1990. Hard-pressed besprkutbildningefter tween and pedagogy. Swedish politics languageeducationafter1990. Hedemora, Sweden:Gidlunds Frlag. S. (1995). Culture. In F. Lentriccia& T. Greenblatt, terms McLaughlin (Eds.), Critical forliterary study of (2nd d.; pp. 225-232). Chicago: University Chicago Press. A theory reIser,W. (1980). Theactofreading: ofaesthetic Baltimore: Press. sponse. JohnsHopkinsUniversity of the poetic text Jauss, H. R. (2001). The identity in the changing horizon of understanding.In J.L. Machor& P. Goldstein(Eds.), Reception study: Fromliterary to cultural studies(pp. 7-28). theory London: Routledge. O. (2000). The avatars ofliterKramsch, C, & Kramsch, aturein languagestudy. Modern Language Journal, 84, 553-573. Marton,F., Dall'Allba, G., & Beaty,E. (1993). Conceptions of learning.International JournalofEducationalResearch, 19, 277-300. McCormick,K (1994). The culture of readingand the UK: Manchester teaching ofEnglish.Manchester, Press. University Miall, D. S. (1996). Empoweringthe reader: Literary response and classroomlearning.In R. J. Kreuz 8c S. M. MacNealy (Eds.), Empirical to approaches literature and aesthetics (pp. 463-478). Retrieved May 10, 2006, from http://www.ualberta.ca/ ~dmiall/reading/EMPOWER.htm The MLA Ad Hoc Committeeon Foreign Languages. (2007). Foreign languages and higher education: New structures for a changed world. Retrieved February 20, 2008, from http://www. mla.org/flreport translation studies: TheoMunday,J.(2001). Introducing riesand applications. London: Routledge. toteach in higher education. Ramsden,P. (1992). Learning London: Routledge. M. (1978) . Semiotics in semiAdvances Riffaterre, of poetry: REFERENCES otics. Indiana University Press. Bloomington: L. M. (1978). Thereader, the the The Rosenblatt, text, poem: transactional work. Carbondale: theory cultures. ofthe literary A. (1998). Constructing S., & Lefevere, Bassnett, SouthernIllinoisUniversity Press. Matters. Clevedon,UK: Multilingual R. the in learner's (1979). Slj, F. The learnLearning & perspective. Bowden, Marton, (1998). university of J., I. Some common-sense conceptions (Rep. No. 76). ing.London: Kogan Page. of Gteborg, of roll i sprkunderGteborg:University Department Castro, A. (2004). Sknlitteraturens Education. in The role of literature visningen p universitetet.

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

184
Schultz,J. M. (2002). The Gordian Knot: Language, In V. Scott & H. literature and criticalthinking. Fosclassroom: Tucker(Eds.), SLA and theliterature tering dialogues (pp. 3-31). Boston:Heinle. In V. Scott Scott, V.,& Tucker,H. (2002). Introduction. literature classroom: & H. Tucker(Eds.) , SLA and the Fostering dialogues (pp. ix-xviii).Boston:Heinle. bethe relationship Shanahan, D. (1997). Articulating and culture:Toward tween language, literature, a new agenda for foreign language teaching and research.Modern 81, 164Language Journal, 174. del mundo Sitman, R.,8cLerner,I. (1999). La literatura hispanohablanteen el aula de E/LE: ,;un lugar from de encuentroo de desencuentro? Literature world in the Spanish forthe Spanish-speaking eign language classroom:a place formeetingor LiterarRevista deEstudios confrontation? Espculo. March ios. Nro. 12.julio-octubre1999. Retrieved

93 (2009) The Modem Language Journal


2, 2008,from http://www.ucm.es/info/especulo/ numro 12/cbelatxt.html texts.In S. Stierle,K. (1980). The readingof fictional in the R. Suleiman& I. Crosman (Eds.), Thereader text: (pp. 83Essayson audienceand interpretation Press. NT:PrincetonUniversity 105). Princeton, Swedish Higher Education Act. (1992). Retrieved May 16, 2006, fromhttp://english.hsv.se/legal/ higher/act/entirety/#l Swedish Higher Education Ordinance. (1993). Retrieved May 16,2006, fromhttp://english.hsv.se/ legal/higher/ordinance/ OmlitteraturThorson,S. (2005). Den dubbla receptionen. The douochderas svensklrare. lever samtalmellan talk between pupils and ble reception. Literary theirteachers.Gteborg:Litteraturvetenskapliga vid Gteborgsuniversitet. institutionen U. (1997). Sprkdidaktik. Language didactics. Tornberg, Malm: Gleerups.

in Perspectives, Forthcoming ML/93.4(2009)


is bynowa well-established of higher education of institutions thecurricula goal Internationalizing be could surely there in theage of globalization, with On thecontrary, which few woulddisagree. does"internationalizing" Butwhat ofsucha project. little abouttheworthiness really counterargument in mean? Moreparticularly, what roleorroles (FL) departments play foreign language collegiate might from of and that of curricula in their own both terms that educational others, general advancing goal, as encounter do departments What education todiscipline-specific curricula challenges requirements? that others those in their ownhouse, in terms ofthehurdles must address take on these roles, they they totheproject? and those that areinherent putin their way, Thatis thetopicto be explored in Perspectives 93A (December 2009) underthetitleTherole ofFL voices of include a the will As column in the curriculum. usual, diversity departments internationalizing on a topicthat, from different Each voicewillexpress upon closer uniqueviewpoints vantage points. lead us thanourcheering morecomplex reveals itself tobe considerably consideration, might support tobelieve.

This content downloaded from 192.208.189.171 on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions