What students need to know and do
This TLO is related to several others (1, 2 and 4 in particular) and draws them together. In first year, students need to be introduced to the idea of literary texts as social and cultural artefacts that reflect and interpret “social reality” and at the same time produce new meanings and new ways of imagining the world that have their own social reality. Students may be introduced to the idea, especially related to TLO 4, that just as a literary text produces knowledge, their own (and other’s) reading of a text is also a form of knowledge production.
Student barriers to learning
Students may find it difficult to grasp the idea that texts help create, as well as interpret, the social world, since this requires them to understand that there isn’t necessarily an “objective reality” and that every text is a reflection of someone’s interpretation of an aspect of the social world.
Our teaching strategies
Our strategies for this TLO are both introductory ones – these ideas are difficult and may take time and practice to absorb – and built around the strategies for some of the other TLOs. In terms of students’ “application of skills and knowledge”, this also involves their own knowledge production, a process of creating knowledge, rather than just receiving and reproducing it. To do so, students need to be prepared to undertake deep and careful reading and be willing to embrace new concepts and frameworks.
In asking our students to recognise and reflect on the significance of literary texts in imagining and interpreting the social world, we are building on skills to do with active and critical reading and thinking (as discussed in TLO4). So here, too, we need to be explicit both in our explanation of what we mean by such terms, and in our subject and assessment design. We can set texts or films that challenge students to think differently about social, cultural or political issues. Texts can be situated in the contexts in which they were produced and students can then compare these with the contexts in which the students themselves are reading – this enables students to see some of the knowledge or assumptions they might bring to the reading of a text.
Students should engage in conversations in lectures, workshops, and online environments and there should be opportunities to exchange different points of view, and be asked specific questions. These questions could be: “How does the text you are reading imagine the world? Does it give you another perspective on the world? What assumptions do we bring to our reading of this text?”