Towards a pedagogical stylistics

Urszula I. Clark, Sonia Zyngier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the 1950s, pedagogical stylistics has been intrinsically linked with the teaching of written texts (and especially literary texts) to speakers of English as a second language. This is despite the fact that for decades many teachers have also structured their lessons in L1 classrooms to focus upon the linguistic features of literary texts as a means of enhancing their students’ understanding of literature and language. Recognizing that instructors in both L1 and L2 settings were often employing related pedagogical techniques without realizing that their colleagues in the other context were facing similar challenges, the PEDSIG group of the Poetics and Linguistics Association (PALA) has sought to add a theoretical dimension to research undertaken into practice in the stylistics classroom. Its goals, then, were: to establish a working definition of pedagogical stylistics; to identify the theoretical and pedagogical underpinnings of the discipline shared by L1 and L2 practitioners; to point if possible towards any emerging consensus on good practice. The group determined that the principal aim of stylistics in the classroom is to make students aware of language use within chosen texts, and that what characterizes pedagogical stylistics is classroom activities that are interactive between the text and the (student) reader. Preliminary findings, from a pilot study involving a poem by Langston Hughes, suggest that the process of improving students’ linguistic sensibilities must include greater emphasis upon the text as action: i.e. upon the mental processing which is such a proactive part of reading and interpretation; and how all of these elements – pragmatic and cognitive as well as linguistic – function within quite specific social and cultural contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-351
Number of pages13
JournalLanguage and Literature
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • applied stylistics
  • Hughes Langston
  • L1 and L2 settings
  • pedagogical stylistics


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