Poetry for Identity: A Phenomenological Pedagogy of Poetry to Support Students' Self-Concept Clarity

Murray, Janice, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Luftig, Victor, AS-English-Eng Lit Ops, University of Virginia

Secondary students often struggle to see value in studying poetry. Because they are at a developmental stage that involves identity development, one useful approach to teaching poetry is connecting it to identity development through the idea of self-concept clarity. Self-concept clarity is the extent to which someone has a clear, confident, and consistent sense of who they are (Campbell, et al. 141). Not only does self-concept clarity align with secondary students’ developmental stage, it is also tied to numerous benefits that are relevant to teenagers, including positive mental health, healthy relationships, and clarity in post-secondary plans (Van der Aar, et al. 341-2, 359; Merdin-Uyger, et al. 443-4). By offering students a framework based on phenomenology, teachers can equip them to analyze experiences in order to learn about the experiencer’s self-concept clarity. This approach offers scaffolding in two key ways. It supports growth in students’ ability to perform literary analysis of lyric poems, and it supports the development of thought processes that students can use to strengthen their own self-concept clarity. In this thesis, I introduce the components of that phenomenological framework, show how it can be applied to literary analysis to tie close reading to self-concept clarity, and offer guidance on how to use the framework pedagogically with secondary students.

MA (Master of Arts)
English education, poetry, pedagogy, phenomenology, self-concept clarity
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