Item Details

Sense and subjectivity: Teaching literature from a sociocultural perspective

Issue: Vol 1 No. 2 (2014)

Journal: Language and Sociocultural Theory

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/lst.v1i2.179


The mainstream American undergraduate foreign language curriculum has received major criticism over the last few decades for its conventional separation between language and literature instruction. This unnatural schism is often underpinned by other curricular and theoretical divides such as the separation of language from knowledge and culture. In this view, language is more often than not taught as a repository of rules of thumb mostly concerned with sentence-level grammar. On the other hand, conventional literature instruction often capitalizes on encyclopedic knowledge as a prerequisite for proper interpretation of texts. The present article describes an alternative pedagogy of literature grounded in Sociocultural Theory and other research frameworks, which was implemented in an intermediate Spanish language course at an American university. Data pertaining to aspect and notions of language and texts will be discussed.

Author: María-del-Carmen Yáñez-Prieto

View Original Web Page

References :

ADFL (2004). Special Issue on Language and literature in the Academy: Papers from the 2003 ADE-ADFL summer seminar, ADFL Bulletin, 36 (1).
Agar, M. (1994). Language Shock. Understanding the Culture of Conversation. New York: William Morrow.
Applied Linguistics. (2007) Special issue on everyday creativity in language: Developing a contextualized approach creativities in context, Applied Linguistics, 28 (4).
Arievitch, I. M. and Haenen, J. P. P. (2005). Connecting sociocultural theory and educational practice: Galperin’s approach. Educational Psychologist, 40 (3): 155–165.
Atkinson, D. (ed.) (2011). Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Routledge.
Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). The problem of speech genres. In C. Emerson and M. Holquist (eds). V. W. McGee (trans.). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
Block, D. (2003). The Social Turn in Second Language Acquisition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Byrnes, H., Maxim, H. H., Norris, J. M. (2010). Realizing advanced L2 writing development in a collegiate curriculum: Curricular design, pedagogy, assessment. Modern Language Journal, 94 (supplement issue: i–vi), 1–235.
Carter, R. (1997). Investigating English Discourse: Language, Literacy and Literature. London and New York: Longman.
Carter, R., Goddard, A., Reah, D., Sanger, K. and Bowring, M. (2001). Working with Texts (2nd edn). London and New York: Routledge.
Carter, R. and Long, M. (1987). The Web of Words: Exploring Literature Through Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Firth, A. and Wagner, J. (1997). On discourse, communication, and (some) fundamental concepts in SLA research. Modern Language Journal, 81 (3): 286–300.
Galperin, P. Ia. (1992/1978). Stage-by-stage formation as a method of psychological investigation. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 30 (4): 60–80.
Hinkel, E. (ed.) (2011). Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning, vol. II. New York: Routledge.
Hulstijn, J. H., Young, R. F., Ortega, L., Bigelow, M., DeKeyser, R., Ellis, N. C., Lantolf, J. P., Mackey, A., and Talmy, S. (2014). Bridging the gap: Cognitive and social approaches to research in second language learning and teaching. Studies in Second Language Acquisition.
Kaplan, R. (ed.) (2010). Handbook of Applied Linguistics (2nd edn). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Karpov, Y. V., and Bransford, J. D. (1995). L. S. Vygotsky and the doctrine of empirical and theoretical learning. Educational Psychologist, 30 (2): 61–66.
Kövecses, Z. (2006). Language, Mind and Culture: A Practical Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kozulin, A. (1996). The concept of activity in Soviet psychology: Vygotsky, his disciples and critics. In H. Daniels (ed.). An Introduction to Vygotsky, 99–121. London: Routledge.
Kramsch, C. (2000). Social discursive construction of self in L2 learning. In J. P. Lantolf (ed.). Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Learning. New York: Oxford University Press.
Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors We Live By. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Language and Literature (2010). Special Issue on pedagogical issues in Stylistics, Language and Literature, 19 (1).
Language Teaching Research (2013). Special Issue on Sociocultural Theory and second language pedagogy, Language Teaching Research, 17 (3).
Lantolf, J. P. (2008). Praxis and L2 classroom development. ELIA: Estudios de Lingüística Inglesa Aplicada, 8: 13–44.
Lantolf, J. P. (2010). Sociocultural theory and the pedagogical imperative. In R. Kaplan (ed.), Handbook of Applied Linguistics (2nd ed.), 163–177. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lantolf, J. P. (2011). The sociocultural approach to second language acquisition. Sociocultural theory, second language acquisition and L2 development. In D. Atkinson (ed.). Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition, 24–47. New York: Routledge.
Lantolf, J. P. and Appel, G. (1994). Theoretical framework: An introduction to Vygotskian perspectives on second language research. In J. P. Lantolf and G. Appel (eds). Vygotskian Approaches to Second Language Research, 1–32. Westport: Ablex Publishing.
Lantolf, J. P. and Johnson, K. E. (2007). Extending Firth & Wagner's ontological perspective to L2 classroom praxis and teacher Education. The Modern Language Journal, 91 (s1), 875–890.
Lantolf, J. P. and Poehner, M. E. (2014). Sociocultural Theory and the Pedagogical Imperative in L2 Education. Vygotskian Praxis and the Research/Practice Divide. London: Routledge.
Lantolf, J. P. and Thorne, S. L. (2006). Sociocultural Theory and the Genesis of Second Language Development. New York: Oxford University Press.
Larsen-Freeman, D. and Cameron, L. (2008). Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
McCafferty, S. G. and Stam, G. (eds). (2008). Gestures: Second Language Acquisition and Classroom Research. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.
McCafferty, S. G. and Haught, J. (2008). Embodied language performance: Drama and the ZPD in the second language classroom. In J. P. Lantolf and M. E. Poehner (eds) Sociocultural Theory and the Teaching of Second Languages, 139–162. London: Equinox.
Mind, Culture, and Activity (2010). Special Issue on foreign language learning and teaching. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 17 (4).
MLA Ad Hoc Committee on Foreign Languages (2007). Foreign languages and higher education: New structures for a changed world. Profession, May 2007: 234–245.
Modern Language Journal (2007). Second Language Acquisition reconceptualized? The impact of Firth and Wagner (1997), Modern Language Journal, 91, Focus Issue.
Pope, R. (1995). Textual Intervention. London and New York: Routledge.
Reddy, M. J. (1979). The conduit metaphor: A case of frame conflict in our language about language. In A. Ortony (ed.), Metaphor and Thought, 284–310. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stetsenko, A. and Arievitch, I. M. (2004). The self in Cultural-Historical Activity Theory. Reclaiming the unity of social and individual dimensions of human development. Theory and Psychology, 14 (4): 475–503.
Studies in Second Language Acquisition (2008). Gesture and SLA: An integrated approach, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30 (2).
Swain, M. (2006). Languaging, agency and collaboration in advanced language proficiency. In H. Byrnes (ed.). Advanced Language Learning: The Contribution of Halliday and Vygotsky. London: Continuum.
Swain, M. and Deters, P. (2007). ‘New’ mainstream SLA theory: Expanded and enriched. Modern Language Journal, 91 (s1): 820–836.
Thorne, S. (2000). Second language acquisition theory and the truth(s) about relativity. In J. Lantolf (ed.), Sociocultural Approaches to Second Language Research, 219–243). Oxford: Oxford University Press
Turner, M. (1996). The Literary Mind. The Origins of Thought and Language. New York: Oxford University Press.
Tyler, A. (2012). Cognitive Linguistics and Second Language Learning. Theoretical Basics and Experimental Evidence. New York: Routledge.
Voloshinov, V. N. (1973). Marxisim and the philosophy of language. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA: MIT. Press.
Widdowson, H. G. (1992). Practical Stylistics: An Approach to Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press.
Yáñez-Prieto, M.C. (2008). On Literature and the Secret Art of (Im)possible Worlds: teaching literature through language. PhD dissertation. Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. Retrieved from: