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Stockholm University

1. Brundell, Ruben. Teaching Linguistic Adaptation to Context with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Degree: English, 2019, Stockholm University

Abstract The Swedish National Agency for Education states that English students in upper secondary school in Sweden need to learn how to adapt their language according to context. This might be a skill that a large part of these students already master, to some extent. However, that specific knowledge might be implicit, and thus, the students need to both gain awareness of that skill, and to develop it. The aim of this study is to show how such awareness can be taught, and the skill developed, by means of a directed reading of Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. The novel, according to Russian theorist Mikhail Bakthin, is typically multi-voiced and stratified, and thus a productive object to analyze for the purpose of teaching adaptation to context. Additionally, Atwood’s novel specifically deals with a totalitarian society, where language adaptation is presented in an exaggerated way. This narrativized model of the function of language in different contexts, it is argued, provides an efficient text in terms of teaching how and why speakers might be forced to change their language according to context. This leads to a second teachable aspect presenting itself, since all education must rest on a foundation of democratic values and human rights. The right to one’s language is connected to this demand, in terms of variety and constraints. Hence, in a project such as the one proposed, the students also need to reflect on the relation between language adaptation and power. The study uses Pierre Bourdieu’s model of language and power as a means of showing how the code-switching of the students, and the linguistic struggles of the protagonist in The Handmaid’s Tale are both connected to power. In the study, passages where language adaptation is in effect are presented as a means of showing the potential of the novel. Furthermore, a lesson plan for the project is proposed, as well as criteria for assessment. The suggested approach to teaching these aspects of the English subject is considered, in the light of the examination presented in this research, a suitable one. However, the concept could be further explored by additional readings of other narrative texts where the usage of language is a prominent theme. 

Subjects/Keywords: Margaret Atwood; Pierre Bourdieu; Language; Power; Teaching; Code-Switching; The Handmaid’s Tale; Specific Literatures; Litteraturstudier

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APA · Chicago · MLA · Vancouver · CSE | Export to Zotero / EndNote / Reference Manager

APA (6th Edition):

Brundell, R. (2019). Teaching Linguistic Adaptation to Context with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. (Thesis). Stockholm University. Retrieved from http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:su:diva-165540

Note: this citation may be lacking information needed for this citation format:
Not specified: Masters Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Brundell, Ruben. “Teaching Linguistic Adaptation to Context with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.” 2019. Thesis, Stockholm University. Accessed February 22, 2019. http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:su:diva-165540.

Note: this citation may be lacking information needed for this citation format:
Not specified: Masters Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Brundell, Ruben. “Teaching Linguistic Adaptation to Context with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.” 2019. Web. 22 Feb 2019.

Vancouver:

Brundell R. Teaching Linguistic Adaptation to Context with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. [Internet] [Thesis]. Stockholm University; 2019. [cited 2019 Feb 22]. Available from: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:su:diva-165540.

Note: this citation may be lacking information needed for this citation format:
Not specified: Masters Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation

Council of Science Editors:

Brundell R. Teaching Linguistic Adaptation to Context with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. [Thesis]. Stockholm University; 2019. Available from: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:su:diva-165540

Note: this citation may be lacking information needed for this citation format:
Not specified: Masters Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation

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