An exploration of students’ construction of knowledge and identities during the reading of literature using Text World Theory

  • Furzeen Ahmed

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis provides a Text-World Theory (Werth, 1999; Gavins, 2007) analysis to the exploration of student interactions within the Secondary English classroom. It studies students’ linguistic construction of their conceptualisations of themes and ideas explored during the study of literature. This thesis examines how students utilise knowledge and experiences in the real world to form connections with the text world. It has three foci consisting the exploration of students’ positions in relation to reading literature which is spatially, socially and culturally distinct; the use of Text World Theory to analyse classroom discourse particularly of students linguistically conveying these cultural, social and ethnical positions, and to provide insight into the evolving nature of classroom interactions and how students’ positions impact each other’s conceptualisations of literature studied.The data generated consists of student interviews, classroom discussions and group discussions collated during a 9-month linguistic ethnographic study at a secondary school in the East Midlands region, UK. Text World Theory is used as an analytical framework to explore the students’ construction and discussion of their conceptualisations of the texts studied in the classroom. The analytical findings demonstrate Text World Theory’s significance as an analytical framework within the interdisciplinary field of classroom discourse in English subject. This is by analysing the students’ co-construction (Littleton and Mercer, 2013) of cultural, social and ethnical identities during classroom discourse, providing insight into not only their own evolving conceptualisations of texts, but each other’s. The study demonstrates the framework’s importance in analysing multi-participant spoken interactions to understand this joint construction of knowledge about the text studied,including exploring the challenges and conflicts emerging from this form of communication.This is by conducting fine-grained linguistic analysis to draw out the complexities surrounding classroom discourse through students sharing their conceptualisations of the text studied.
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMarcello Giovanelli (Supervisor) & Urszula Clark (Supervisor)


  • text world theory
  • classroom discourse
  • GCSE English Literature
  • cognitive liguistics
  • classroom reading

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