Chalkface Press     Specialists in Subject English    


Reading Fictions

by Bronwyn Mellor, Annette Patterson & Marnie O’Neill
Student book Year 10+

Reading Fictions is intended for upper secondary school students of English and Literature. An anthology of twelve short stories with accompanying activities, it applies insights derived from contemporary literary theory to classroom practice in accessible ways. Although the concepts addressed are frequently complex, the approaches taken are activity-based and encourage active involvement from students.

Each of the six chapters, which offer a cumulative course of study, begins with a concise overview of the concepts to be explored through the students’ reading of selected stories. The first chapter, 'Texts and readings', tries to make reading seem 'strange' through a series of de-familiarising activities that ask students to consider not only what particular stories might mean, but also how they are made to mean in different, and often quite contradictory, ways.

This is explored further in the second chapter which introduces the idea of 'reading positions' and investigates the idea that in some senses, stories are always 'already read'. The next two chapters, called 'Intertextuality' and 'Re-readings?', invite students to consider how they produce particular readings and how they might choose among quite different readings or interpretations of the same story.

The fifth chapter explores ideas about texts and their relationship to 'reality' through readings of racism, while the final chapter, 'Real people?' asks students to consider how they produce often rich and detailed readings of characters from minimal textual information. Terms and concepts which may be new to some students are highlighted in the text and indexed for easy reference.

The short stories in this collection are by writers from different parts of the world and will appeal to students. They range from 'expressive realist' texts to less conventional narrative forms. Those teachers who have enjoyed using Reading Stories with their students will have a lot to look forward to in this collection of surefire 'winners' - by writers as varied as Bessie Head, Kristin Hunter, Tim Winton, Joyce Carol Oates, John Wain and Patricia Grace - each of which is accompanied by imaginative, enjoyable and thought-provoking activities.

RRP $24.95
A4 96pp ISBN 1 875136 15 0

A Chalkface Press original

Cover illustration: The Blank Signature, René Magritte, © National Gallery of Art Washington USA. Collection of Mr & Mrs Paul Mellon.

"Encourages young readers to heckle texts knowingly, and to make meanings which resist or contest dominant readings... would make an excellent introduction to post-16 English, Media and Communications courses.

"The glossary of Reading Fictions includes 'intertextuality', 'polysemy' and other literary theory terms which are unfamiliar in schools...
"Extensive explanatory and follow-up material supports and secures the concepts it introduces ..
"Given the novelty and difficulty of of the approach, it is good that the solo or group exercises are active and simple, inviting gap-fillings, predictions, gender-changes, listings, comparings and choosings. "These are no mere busywork. They point the way to more acute, sceptical or critical reading, as when they expose and estrange the naturalised conventions for naming different social categories of people in a story about racism...
The pair [Literary Terms by Brian Moon, and Reading Fictions] suggests and might inaugurate a new direction for literature teaching in this country"

Andrew Stibbs, Times Educational Supplement.


USA and Canada: (This title published Fall 2000)
  • NCTE, National Council of Teachers of English
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