|Signifying as a Scaffold for Literary Interpretation: The Pedagogical Implications of an African American Discourse Genre
|Year of Publication
|Lee, Carol D.
Finding ways to build on the language abilities students of diverse cultures bring to school, this book recounts an experiment in helping urban African American high school students to interpret literature by drawing on their own rich oral tradition of "signifying." The book defines signifying as a contest in which the most imaginative user of indirection, irony, and insult wins. The book describes a literature unit taught with inquiry and discussion methods under typical urban conditions in two high schools. The book reports that the academically marginal students posted statistically significant gains in using new awareness of metaphoric language to interpret complex relationships in literature. Chapters of the book are: The Problem; Rationale; Signifying in African American Fiction; Prior Research on Culture and Comprehension; Research Design and Implementation; Measurement Instruments; Observations of the Instructional Process; Results; Talk in the Classroom: The Transformation of Signifying; and Implications and Final Thoughts. Technical notes, reading tests, and tests of social and linguistic knowledge are attached.