Ray Misson and Wendy Morgan address the role of aesthetics in an age of postmodern criticism, showing how critical literacy and the aesthetic are reconcilable in literary theory and practice.


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Why does critical literacy often feel uncomfortable with aesthetic texts like poetry? In this provocative book, Ray Misson and Wendy Morgan, proponents of critical literacy in their home country of Australia, develop an understanding of the aesthetic in current poststructuralist terms and the role that the aesthetic might play in a critical literacy classroom.

Throughout the book, their belief remains strong that “poststructuralism provides the best framework we have for understanding texts and their relationship to human society and identity.” To demonstrate how the conjunction of critical literacy and the aesthetic can transform English classrooms, the authors draw examples from various genres, media, and countries, including poetry by Donne, Shakespeare, Robert Lowell, and Les Murray; To Kill a Mockingbird; an episode of Friends; and even one chapter using only the example of Huckleberry Finn.

The authors reconfigure critical literacy so that it can give proper consideration to the aesthetic, which involves paying attention to such things as individual identity, human emotion, creativity, and the value and productivity of texts. Acknowledging these things within critical literacy is vital. As Misson and Morgan emphasize, “it is one of the greatest pleasures and responsibilities of being an English teacher that we work, critically and creatively, with the aesthetic and its rich sense of human possibility.”

Refiguring English Studies series. 259 pp. 2006. College. ISBN 10: 0-8141-4951-0;
ISBN 13: 978-0-8141-4951-5.

No. 49510