Stylistics as Pedagogy: The Value of Literary Linguistics for the Secondary Literature Classroom

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Peter Stockwell and Sara Whiteley have recently claimed that stylistics is ‘the proper study of literature’ (2014: 1). If this is the case, then stylistics, or literary linguistics, ought to also be of prime importance to teachers interested in the study of literature in classrooms.

In this chapter, I first outline how the principles of, and recent advances in, stylistics mean that the discipline is well placed offer much to those working in education. I exemplify my points with reference to contexts that have tended to be well-served by stylistics: EFL teaching (Carter and Long 1991); work in English departments in higher education (Jeffries and McIntyre 2011); and creative and professional writing programmes (Clark and Owtram 2012; Scott 2013).

From here, I argue for the value of a stylistics-informed pedagogy in the secondary phase. Despite the fact that a significant number of secondary English teachers join the profession without backgrounds in linguistics (see Giovanelli 2014), I argue that recent developments in education such as the renewed emphasis on explicit metalanguage at Key Stage 2, research on the value of contextualized grammar teaching at Key Stage (e.g. Myhill et al 2012), and an increased call for more productive work between post-16 teachers and university academics to inform Key Stage 5 study (Clark, Giovanelli and Macrae 2014) all provide an opportunity to consider how integrating linguistic and literary approaches can be beneficial for student and teacher.

The final part of the chapter shows this in practice by drawing on recent research (Giovanelli 2016; Cushing and Giovanelli 2019; Giovanelli and Harrison 2022) to explore the value of cognitive stylistics for the teacher of literature. Here, I outline and evaluate how teachers might develop the principles of Text World Theory and Cognitive Grammar to facilitate the teaching of literature. My central argument is that these frameworks present teachers with the opportunity to join up their literary knowledge with more linguistic knowledge in enabling and interesting ways.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Perspectives on English Teacher Development
Subtitle of host publication From Initial Teacher Education to Highly Accomplished Professional
EditorsAndrew Goodwyn, Jacqueline Manuel, Rachel Roberts, Lisa Scherrf, Wayne Sawyer, Cal Durrant, Don Zancanella
ISBN (Electronic)9781003168140
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022


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