Bellas-Papageorge, Gale Books

Dr. Gale Bellas-Papageorge is Professor of English at Fairfield University.

Dialogic Approach to Reading and Teaching Ethnic American Texts
2006 0-7734-5728-3
This study addresses the influx of ethnic texts into the literary canon and provides a theoretical / pedagogical strategy for reading and teaching ethnic American texts based on the theoretical works of M.M. Bakhtin, particularly dialogism and literary polyphony. Because students are often rooted safely in their own cultures, they often do not have an opportunity to engage, experience, or appreciate texts of other cultures. As a result of this inexperience, students exhibit a resistance or inability to engage in meaningful dialogue with these texts, and the result is that these texts are often read through the ethnocentric assumptions (linguistic and otherwise) of the reader’s own culture rather than the cultural context(s) to which the text belongs. This study demonstrates reading strategies designed to help readers acknowledge the polyphony in American ethnic minority texts and recognize how the characters’ and narrators’ representations of self and the self’s relationship to its environment reside in this polyphony. The first part of the book explains the major principles behind dialogism, provides a definition of terms and demonstrates an application of these principles to specific ethnic American texts taught in an introductory literature course. Each chapter in this section includes a comparative, recursive analysis of works discussed in previous chapters to foreground the differences and similarities in their representations of multivocality. The last section provides a pedagogical application of these principles to a required diversity literature course at the university level.