Reading literature in schools : a comparative study of Greece and England
In this project, the discourse of literature teaching is studied as it is constructed in a range of texts, different in function, that come from England and Greece. Starting with the English paradigm, I make an analysis of four versions of the National Curriculum and then look at a series of interviews with English literature teachers of secondary education. Replicating this in the Greek context, I study first a number of official policy documents of the 1990s and then a set of interviews with Greek teachers of secondary education. At the end of each paradigm, a comparison is made between the official documents and the interviewtexts from each education system. Texts from both countries are put in a historical perspective, since traces of the past can be 'read' in the present. Finally, the discourse of literature teaching in England is juxtaposed with the one developed in Greece. Overall, the comparison is along two axes: first between teachers' interviews and official policy documents, and then, between the English and the Greek paradigm. In my analysis of all these different texts, I focus on specific aspects of the discourse of literature teaching. In particular, I look at the conceptualisation of textual meaning and the relation between referent, text and author, at the issue of text selection, at the aims set for this area of the curriculum and how they are translated into practice, and finally, at the presentation of all those who are involved in literature teaching, i.e. the teachers, the students and the central authorities. From the comparison, the image of a school subject as a natural process that draws on neutralised and rationalised knowledge is called into question. Literature teaching emerges as a discourse full of contradictory trends that are constantly negotiated and reshaped in localised configurations.