Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

A Fifth Role of the Reader: Children and Young Adult Literature as Humanities

Margaret Zeegers, Dr Pat Smith.

You can't beat up an old lady on the train if you have been into her life or someone like hers in a story. You can't push a boatload of refugees out into the sea to drown if you survived the terrors of the torture chamber and the unforgiving ocean as a fellow traveler-in a book'. Thus does Australian children's and young adults author Paul Jennings (2003, p. 56) encapsulate the essence of the humanities and its potential in transforming the experience of schooling for children and young adults as it enables engagement with other worlds, other people and deeper understandings of the human condition. This paper takes up Jennings' argument, and sets it in the context of Luke and Freebody's (1999) Four Roles the Reader. Jennings' focus is on literature, that of Freebody and Luke on literacy. This paper explores the possibilities of language arts in the context of the humanities as going well beyond otherwise limiting parameters of literacy and mechanical competence with written and spoken texts. Informed by such perspectives, this paper explores the transformational potential of a number of texts as vehicles to transport young people into richer and livelier worlds as the humanities transform the act of learning itself.


Margaret Zeegers  (Australia)
School of Education
University of Ballarat

Margaret Zeegers lectures in Education and Language Arts at the University of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

Dr Pat Smith  (Australia)
Senior lecturer
School of Education
University of Ballarat

  • Literature
  • Literacy
  • Readers

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)