ERIC Number: ED396323
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Nov-11
Reference Count: N/A
Literature as the Laboratory of the Moral Life: Building Moral Communities through Literature Study.
Zbikowski, John; Collins, Jerre
This paper discusses the concept of literature as a moral laboratory in which author and readers run complex thought experiments about human actions and their consequences. The paper warns that discussion of the role of literature in building moral character and moral communities needs to be based on a better understanding of what literature is and how it works. The paper states that reading literature can develop a sense of all that must be taken into account in forming complex moral judgments--with proper pedagogy, literary study helps readers develop this sense more consciously and deliberately, and situates this process within a larger dialogue about values. The paper points out that literature is potentially powerful in moral development because it mobilizes an affective response as well as a cognitive one. The paper suggests that teachers must emphasize both individual reader responses and group processes that model and foster community and offers techniques for helping readers focus attention on their own experiences in relation to their reading of particular texts. Some effective classroom techniques listed in the paper are: (1) using reading logs or response journals; (2) creating semantic maps; (3) dramatizing works; and (4) having students write narratives of their own experiences. The paper also suggests several generic prompts for teachers to use to encourage students in multilevel thinking and ideas for modeling how moral discourse takes place within a community of readers. Contains 56 references and 9 notes. (CR)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Aesthetic Reading; Historical Background; Moral Reasoning; Narrative Text
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Association for Moral Education (20th, Banff, Alberta, Canada, November 11, 1994).