Threshold concepts in literary studies
This essay proposes a series of “threshold concepts” for literary studies: text, meaning, context, form, and reading. Each term carries both commonsense understandings and disciplinary understandings, which differ from each other drastically. The disciplinary understandings entail far “more” than the commonsense ones. Unless such differences are named and explained clearly, unacknowledged commonsense understandings may hinder students ability to learn equally unacknowledged disciplinary understandings. The naming and describing of such contrasting sets of understandings and of the differences between them is an act of disciplinary introspection—a scholarly and pedagogical act vital for understanding and teaching any complex body of knowledge. In addition to proposing threshold concepts for literary studies specifically, then, this essay encourages and offers a model for teacher-scholars in any discipline to undertake the same disciplinary work.
Adler-Kassner, L., & Wardle, E. A. (Eds.). (2015). Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.
Alexander, E. (2010, February 10). Remembering Lucille Clifton. The New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/remembering-lucille-clifton
Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Fransisco, CA: Wiley.
Blau, S. D. (2003). The Literature Workshop: Teaching Texts and Their Readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Chick, N. L. (2009). Unpacking a signature pedagogy in literary studies. In R. Gurung, N. L. Chick, & A. Haynie (Eds.), Exploring Signature Pedagogies: Approaches to Teaching Disciplinary Habits of Mind (pp. 36-55). Sterling, VA: Stylus.
Chick, N. L., Hassel, H., & Haynie, A. (2009). “Pressing an ear against the hive”: Reading literature for complexity. Pedagogy, 9(3), 399-422.
Chick, N. L. (n.d.). Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: A Guide from the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. https://my.vanderbilt.edu/sotl/
Clifton, L. (2012). The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010. K. Young & M. S. Glaser (Eds.). New York: BOA.
Corrigan, P. T. (2013/2014). Attending to the act of reading: Critical reading, contemplative reading, and active reading. Reader: Essays in Reader-Oriented Theory, Criticism, and Pedagogy, 65/66, 146-173.
Cunningham, Scarlett. 2014. The limits of celebration in Lucille Clifton’s poetry: Writing the aging woman’s body.” Frontiers, 35(2), 30-58.
Day, H. (2007). Helicopters, jigsaws, and plaits: Revealing the hidden language and literature curriculum. Pedagogy, 7(3), 534-543.
Elbow, P. (1973). Writing Without Teachers. New York: Oxford UP.
Fahnestock, J., & Secor, M. (1991). The rhetoric of literary criticism. In C. Bazerman & J. Paradis (Eds.), Textual Dynamics of the Professions: Historical and Contemporary Studies of Writing in Professional Communities (pp. 77-96). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
Graff, G. (2004). Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind. New Haven, CT: Yale UP.
Harris, J. (2003). Revision as a critical practice. College English, 65(6), 577-592.
Harris, J. (2006). Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.
Heinert, J., & Chick, N. L. (2011). Reacting in literary studies: Crossing the threshold from quality to meaning. Arts & Humanities in Higher Education, 0(0), 1-11.
Irvine, N., & Carmichael, P. (2009). Threshold concepts: A point of focus for practitioner research. Active Learning in Higher Education, 10(2), 103-19.
Johnson, A. (2015). Thresholds of interpretation: Identifying, producing, and supporting with The Turn of the Screw. CEA Critic, 77(2), 196-210.
Linkon, S. L. (2011). Literary Learning: Teaching the English Major. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
Mazella, D. (2011, October 8). How might the notion of the “threshold concept” be applied to cultural studies? (response to Kathryn Temple). The Long Eighteenth. https://long18th.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/how-might-the-notion-of-the-threshold-concept-be-applicable-to-cultural-studies/
Meyer J. H. F., & Land R. (2003). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: Linkages to ways of thinking and practising within the disciplines. In R.C. Oxford (Ed.), Improving Student Learning: Improving Student Learning Theory and Practice – 10 years on, (pp.412–424). OCSLD.
Meyer, J. H. F., & Land, R. (2005). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge (2): Epistemological considerations and a conceptual framework for teaching and learning. Higher Education, 49, 373.
Meyer, J. H. F., & Land, R. (2006). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: An introduction. In J. H. F. Meyer & R. Land (Eds.), Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding: Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (pp. 3-18). Abingdon, VA: Routledge.
Morrison, T. (2012). Home. New York: Knopf.
Murray, S. (2012, June 28-29). A Shakespeare threshold: Engaging students in understanding prosody. Fourth Bienniel Conference on Threshold Concepts: From Personal Practice to Communities of Practice. Trinity College, Dublin.
Olds, S. (2016). Odes. New York: Knopf.
Ostriker, A. (1993). Kin and kin: The poetry of Lucille Clifton. The American Poetry Review, 22(6), 41-.
Salvatori, M. R., & Donahue, P. (2005). The Elements (and Pleasures) of Difficulty. New York: Pearson Longman.
Sullivan, P. (2017). “Deep Reading” as a threshold concept in composition studies. In P. Sullivan, H. Tinberg, & S. Blau (Eds.), Deep Reading: Teaching Reading in the Writing Classroom (pp. 143-71). Urbana, IL: NCTE.
Showalter, E. (2003). Teaching Literature. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Weissman, G. (2016). The Writer in the Well: On Misreading and Rewriting Literature. Columbus, OH: Ohio State UP.
Wisker, G. (2007). Crossing liminal spaces: Teaching the postcolonial gothic. Pedagogy, 7(3), 401-425.
Wisker, G. (2015). Teaching Literature: Contemporary Gothic, Threshold Concepts, Social Justice and Dialogue. York: Higher Education Academy. https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/teaching-literature-contemporary-gothic-threshold-concepts-social-justice-and-dialogue
Wisker, G., Cameron, S., & Antoniou, M. (2008). Connotations and conjunctions: Threshold concepts, curriculum development, and the cohesion of English studies. Higher Education Academy English Subject Centre Project.
Wisker, G., & Robinson, G. (2009). Encouraging postgraduate students of literature and art to cross conceptual thresholds. Innovations in Education & Teaching International, 46(3), 317-330.
Wolfe, J., & Wilder, L. (2016). Digging into Literature: Strategies for Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins.
Copyright (c) 2019 Paul T. Corrigan
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.