chapter  13
11 Pages

The social construction of meaning

Reading Animal Farm in the classroom
WithJohn Yandell

The novel, it has generally been assumed, was from its very beginnings a literary form designed to be read by solitary, silent individuals. One consequence of this assumption is that the class novel, read amid all the noise and sociality of the classroom, tends to be treated as a preparation for more authentic, private reading, or even as a poor substitute for it. This essay argues that the history of novel-reading is more complicated and more varied than has been assumed; it goes on to explore, through the story of a single lesson, the possibilities for meaning-making that are the product of particular pedagogic practices as well as of the irreducibly social process of reading the class novel.