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Title: Subject and subjects : conceptions of high school English
Author: Dore, Michael James
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 4729
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2017
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‘English’ as a high school subject discipline is a deeply contested space. Since its inception in the early twentieth century, the discipline of English has taken on many forms and purposes. From the preservation of grammatical standards to the induction into high culture and creativity, it seems fair to say that few subjects suffer such an identity crisis over their purpose and function as English does. Added to this, the growing intensity in the politicisation of educational practices has led to significant reforms in English curriculum and assessment with a new GCSE course introduced recently. This thesis describes and analyses debates in English teaching before using data gathered from my own school to explore and evaluate how English is being created and what is happening to its participants. To aid my analysis of what English is and its purposes, I have chosen to use the ‘Four Discourses’ theory offered by Jacques Lacan (1901-1981). Far from merely an exotic range of ideas, Lacan’s theory is used here because it offers interesting explorations of subjectivity, language, and insights into the unconscious. Basically, Lacan looks at four ways to see human interactions in a social world: Master (governance over others), University (institutions and how they deliver the Master’s messages), Hysteric (protesting and objecting to the Master), and Analyst (revolutionary ways of rebelling against the Master). The use of Lacan’s theory is not seen as a panacea to educational complexities, but as offering alternative perspectives and as having the capacity to generate new understanding. It would be tedious to merely write diatribic invective and polemic about the surreptitious forces of the master signifiers. Instead, the research looks at the effects upon and within classroom English to create new understanding. Drawing on Lacan, I argue that the ‘subject’ of English and how it makes its participants ‘subjects’ can be seen in interesting ways. I use the Lacanian theory of ‘Four Discourses’ and classroom data to interrogate the difficulties and opportunities presented in navigating the new English curriculum.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available