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The Postwar Schoolbook as a Material Artifact

Two Greek Reading Textbooks from 1944

Niki Sioki

In contrast to the countries of Western Europe, the end of the Second World War did not bring political restoration, economic recovery, or the emergence of a new social order to Greece. Subscribing to the view that the material form of books and their typography convey meaning, this article presents a comparative study of the design and production of a reading primer and a third-year reading textbook, both of which were published in a climate of political and social disorder. Drawing on surviving copies of the books, educational laws, teachers’ recollections, and archival material, this article examines the ways in which the sociopolitical environment and technological conditions of a publication affect the ways in which texts are shaped into book form.

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Literary Readings as Performance

On the Career of Contemporary Writers in the New Ireland

Helena Wulff

Drawing on an anthropological study of the social organisation of the world of Irish writers, this article investigates the literary reading as performance which has become central for the career and promotion of contemporary writers. How is the reading - live as well as recorded - constituted, and how is it experienced from the writer's point of view? The data are derived from participant observation and interviews at literary festivals and conferences, writers' retreats, book launches and more informal situations with writers, as well as from fiction and essays by the writers. For this article, I asked some of the writers to write short texts on the reading. It turned out that the frames of the reading as performance reach beyond the reading event, and also that a reading includes elements of risk, such as not attracting a big enough audience or performing badly. Finally, the article considers the changing role of the ethnographer.

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Suzan Hirsch

This paper reports on case studies spanning four consecutive years (2005-2008) focused on addressing and challenging Australian primary school boys’ disengagement with English, particularly reading, using an action research process informed by both quantitative and qualitative data. Primary participants were all male and ranged from 8 to 11 years of age. Boys were identified and selected for each case study based on the questionnaire and interview results from whole grade surveys of both males and females. The data results identified the boys with negative views of literacy and boys who identified reading as being a feminine activity, thereby narrowing their perceptions of masculinity. These boys were involved in a reading/mentoring program with high profile professional Rugby League players. The celebrity rugby league players were involved in ten weekly mentoring and reading sessions with male participants each year. These sessions focused on building positive male identity, shifting negative attitudes to reading and challenging negative stereotypes of both professional sportsmen and boys as readers. After each of the case studies, quantitative and qualitative data indicated a positive change in the participants’ attitudes towards reading as well as their perceived stereotypes of males as readers and increased involvement in voluntary reading.

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Books Are Boring! Books Are Fun!

Boys’ Polarized Perspectives on Reading

Laura Scholes

This article draws on interview data gathered from a broader study concerned with examining issues associated with boys, masculinities, and reading at school. The focus is on eight boys in Years 5 and 6 who attend schools in a range of socioeconomic communities in Australia. The boys offer polarized perspectives on reading, with four boys reporting positive attitudes toward reading and describing reading books as “fun” and another four boys describing reading books as “boring.” Examined are inflections in these two groups of boys’ experiences as readers at school, making visible the way boys’ attitudes influence engagement with reading. This research moves beyond broad generalizations about boys to consider complexities inherent in notions of masculinity and how different groups of boys internalize their positioning of reading in ways that influence their attitudes, engagement, and subsequently outcomes in reading.

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The Cultural Divide

Book Reading as a Signifier of Boundaries among Co-Cultures in Israeli Society

Hanna Adoni and Hillel Nossek

This article investigates the function of book reading in a society consisting of a multiplicity of ethno-cultural communities, asking whether book reading functions as a unifying factor within each ethno-cultural community or as a dividing factor and as a signifier of boundaries between them. It is based on multiyear survey data among representative samples of Israeli urban adults (1970, 1990, 2001-2002, 2007, and 2011), focus groups, and analysis of bestseller lists (2001, 2002). The article demonstrates that book reading functions as a signifier of boundaries within Israeli society, namely between ethno-cultural co-cultures of veteran Jewish Israelis, Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and Israeli Arabs. This supports Morley and Robins's claim that cultural consumption may be a divisive factor between the co-cultures within nation-states.

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Nurturing Romanian Socialists

Reading Primers Before, During and After the Second World War

Simona Szakács-Behling and Mihai Stelian Rusu

Drawing on a sample of children’s reading primers published between 1938 and 1953 in Romania, this article explores ways in which both the monarchic and the communist regimes used primary education to fashion political subjects before, during, and after the Second World War. Theoretically grounded in a sociological approach and empirically grounded in textual and visual thematic content analysis, the findings reveal significant semantic shifts in understandings of the “nation” in relation to internal and external anchors, including religion, monarchy, and work, but they also indicate important continuities relating to an ethos of political submission (toward God and king, or the party and the Soviet Union) and patriotic solidarity (with the Romanian Orthodox nation or the workers’ proletarian nation).

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Matthew C. Ally

Joseph S. Catalano, Reading Sartre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. 213pp., $25.99 (paperback) ISBN 978-0-521-15227-3; $85.00 (cloth) ISBN 978-0-521-76646-3

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Sheila Shulman

I have been asked to say something about the ‘overall goal’ of teaching/ reading the open-ended and growing body of texts so awkwardly collected under the rubric of ‘Theology, Philosophy, History’. That body of texts might more reasonably be called Post-Classical Jewish Studies, since it encompasses everything outside of what is usually understood as ‘Rabbinic Literature’, yet it is as much a part of our ‘textual tradition’ as the Bavli and the great collections of Midrashim. I can only speak to, and for, what I am closest to: the Jewish texts of ‘modernity’, ‘post-modernity’, and, by now, what might need to be called ‘post-post-modernity’. Of course, many (most?) of these texts exist in a loving, intimate, though often conflictual ‘dialogue’ with their textual predecessors, even when they appear to be in rebellion or repudiation.

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On Getting It Right

The Voice of Gabriel Josipovici

Paul Davies

This article focuses on some of the themes and questions at the heart of Gabriel Josipovici’s fictional and critical writing, most notably the idea that reading is a matter of participation rather than understanding. It asks what is distinctive about Josipovici’s relationship with other philosophically inclined critics and theorists. It offers a participatory reading of one of his critical writings demonstrating the care with which it is arranged. The article concludes with a brief consideration of how other writers and works are brought into Josipovici’s fiction.

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Erin Newcomb

Sarah Rothschild. 2013. The Princess Story: Modeling the Feminine in Twentieth-Century American Fiction and Film. New York: Peter Lang.

Amy S. Pattee. 2011. Reading the Adolescent Romance: Sweet Valley High and the Popular Young Adult. New York: Routledge.