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Constructions of literature in GCSE English policy and their implications for teaching practice

Farleigh, A. (2018) Constructions of literature in GCSE English policy and their implications for teaching practice. EdD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00084744


This thesis explores the discursive constructions of literature in GCSE English literature policy and their implications for teaching practice. It analyses the ways in which literature is constructed through the language of policy and identifies the differences between constructions in order to understand the discourses that are drawn upon and their relationship to one another. It examines the discursive contexts within which the different constructions of literature are deployed and identifies what subject positions are made available by these constructions. Finally, this study scrutinises the relationship between discourse and practice, exploring what can potentially be thought, felt and experienced by teachers positioned by the discursive constructions of literature. This is important because with the implementation of the reformed GCSE in English literature in 2015 came a tendency for teachers to perceive the subject as something over which they had no control, resulting in a potential misconception of its purpose. This research followed an interpretive paradigm. Six teachers of literature from a school in the south of England took part in the research over six months. The data collected comprised policy documentation, group and individual interviews, observations, metaphors, and creative responses to literature. Data were analysed using Willig’s (2013) procedural guidelines for Foucauldian Discourse Analysis. The use of Foucauldian Discourse Analysis and Foucault’s social theory allowed a systematic enquiry of policy and practice in ways that threw light upon assumptions about the reformed GCSE in English literature being a ‘memory test’ that undermined teacher’s expertise. This study contributes new professional knowledge because it challenges professional assumptions about the intentions of the reformed GCSE in English literature and presents a hitherto unacknowledged disjuncture between reality and perception. Implications for both practice and research are discussed in light of this dissonance.

Item Type:Thesis (EdD)
Thesis Supervisor:Flynn, N.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:84744


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