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When is a Novel not a Novel: When It is Used to Teach Political Science
Unformatted Document Text:  textbooks with their bold words, glossaries, and chapter summaries. Clearly, another type of reading is required for novels. Interestingly, Rosenblatt does not devalue popular fiction; asserting that the afferent “experience engendered by the text can happen whether the reader is enthralled by the adventures of the Hardy Boys or by the anguish of King Lear” (27). In this experience, novels “provide a different reading experience than do typical textbooks, a reading experience that can lead to thoughtful writing assignments, valuable class discussion, and most significantly, student critical engagement with higher-order questions” (Boyd 2004, 341). It is, perhaps, understandable that political scientists are not, as a discipline, familiar with the theories of reader response. However, I believe that political scientists, as teachers, do need to be more aware of the implications of theses theories for their classrooms. There is some scholarship on using individual works, like Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day (Lang and Lang 1998) or Gulliver’s Travels (Connor 1998) in individual classes. These case studies demonstrate and intuitive appreciation for the use of literature in the classroom without necessarily tying it to a broader theory of student learning. There is some more theoretical novel scholarship in particular sub-fields, however. Reflecting her subtitle, Political Philosophy in Novel Form, and echoing Rosenblatt, Zuckert suggests that “aware of readers’ antipathy to arguments by authority, novelists appeal to readers’ own experience by enlisting their sympathies through empathetic identification with the protagonists of the stories” (1990, 247). Perhaps less theoretical than Zuckert, but probably more practical, Dwight Waldo published The Novelist on Organization and Administration: An Inquiry into the Relationships Between the Two Worlds (1968). His very simple observation was that “one can learn much about administration from novels.”

Authors: Connor, George.
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textbooks with their bold words, glossaries, and chapter summaries. Clearly, another
type of reading is required for novels. Interestingly, Rosenblatt does not devalue popular
fiction; asserting that the afferent “experience engendered by the text can happen whether
the reader is enthralled by the adventures of the Hardy Boys or by the anguish of King
Lear” (27). In this experience, novels “provide a different reading experience than do
typical textbooks, a reading experience that can lead to thoughtful writing assignments,
valuable class discussion, and most significantly, student critical engagement with
higher-order questions” (Boyd 2004, 341). It is, perhaps, understandable that political
scientists are not, as a discipline, familiar with the theories of reader response. However,
I believe that political scientists, as teachers, do need to be more aware of the
implications of theses theories for their classrooms.
There is some scholarship on using individual works, like Ishiguro’s Remains of
the Day (Lang and Lang 1998) or Gulliver’s Travels (Connor 1998) in individual classes.
These case studies demonstrate and intuitive appreciation for the use of literature in the
classroom without necessarily tying it to a broader theory of student learning. There is
some more theoretical novel scholarship in particular sub-fields, however. Reflecting her
subtitle, Political Philosophy in Novel Form, and echoing Rosenblatt, Zuckert suggests
that “aware of readers’ antipathy to arguments by authority, novelists appeal to readers’
own experience by enlisting their sympathies through empathetic identification with the
protagonists of the stories” (1990, 247). Perhaps less theoretical than Zuckert, but
probably more practical, Dwight Waldo published The Novelist on Organization and
Administration: An Inquiry into the Relationships Between the Two Worlds (1968). His
very simple observation was that “one can learn much about administration from novels.”


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