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This paper considers the development of voicing in the writing of secondary English students influenced by post-structuralist approaches to literature. It investigates students’ growing capacity not only to voice their own responses to literature but also to relate these to a range of theoretical discourses. Drawing on systemic functional linguistics, we explore the development of voicing in students’ writing in three key assessment tasks in a Queensland Literature Extension course. We argue that students’ growing capacities to handle the demands of reflexiveness in this course are manifested in their expanding repertoire of choices related to control of stance, orientation to reading, type of address and orders of voicing. By the end of their course in literary theory, students are producing texts that integrate personal and impersonal forms of voicing, exploiting the potential of projection for embedding and for complex iterations of voice and stancing their proposals in authoritative and independent ways. Drawing on extracts from representative student work from this course, we characterize these developments in voicing as a movement towards greater polyphony (or multivoicedness). Our analysis of the expanded repertoire of choices for voicing in students’ texts provides evidence of the power of a well-structured introduction to post-structuralism in senior school English.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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