The repositioning of literature in French foreign language teaching in South Africa: Performing dialogue, diversity and difference

  • Fiona Horne
Keywords: French Studies, South Africa, university, literature, teaching, repositioning


The aim of this article is to address the repositioning of the literary text within the field of French Studies at tertiary level in South African universities. While language acquisition constitutes a major thrust of French at tertiary level, literature plays an important symbolic role, representing a disciplinary tradition evident in both corpus and teaching methods. Social transformation and the emergence of new teaching/learning models have seen academics inscribing new kinds of symbolic and cultural value to the  literary text. The data set draws on a series of interviews conducted with academics working in the field of French Studies at  university level in South Africa in 2011 and 2012. A qualitative method of analysis is used. The disciplinary “performance”  described in both discourse and practice reveals that academics are distancing themselves from traditional approaches in their shift from text-centredness to learner-centredness and are carving out a new place for francophone literature in the South African context by “performing” its teaching as part of the democratic project. The emerging disciplinary ethos coincides  significantly with reader reception theory and French foreign language pedagogy and further sheds light on the cultural and pedagogical roles literature can play in foreign language teaching and learning contexts.

Key words: French Studies; South Africa; university; literature; teaching; repositioning


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eISSN: 0259-9570