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Persuading emotional inquiry: Revising emotional practices in English classrooms

Laurie Zum Hofe, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Responding to emotion scholars' calls for real-time emotion pedagogies (Lindquist; Boler; Winans), this dissertation examines the affective space of college English classrooms in order to enable teachers' and students' revised encounters with problematic emotion. Drawing from traditions of persuasion within Rhetoric and Composition and more recent emotion scholarship in composition and education (Aristotle; Trainor; Reynolds; Blau), I articulate how teachers and students "do" emotional inquiry—persuasion to learn through critical responses to emotion. Understanding how emotioned beliefs work as values and principles upheld in educational institutions, I demonstrate how these beliefs often serve as obstacles to emotional inquiry. I focus on my own teaching in classrooms where I used 1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina, by Chris Rose, a text which provoked students (and myself) to encounter difficult emotions, emotions entangled with reading, writing and learning. Through reflective teaching narratives and analysis of student writing and interviews, I describe three emotional practices—inhabiting, verification and movement—I traced as students encountered and critically responded to the proximity, complexity and opportunity of problematic emotion. I argue that emotional inquiry, then, persuades and enables students to examine the boundaries of self, experience and emotioned beliefs in order to learn through/beyond them, to find evidence and assume ownership for the learning provoked as they encounter problematic emotions, and to move in relation to understanding who and which is "other" to them. As a result of this problematization of emotion and revision of emotional practices, students and teachers pursue opportunities to learn as emotions become tools for inquiry within a relational classroom environment. Emotional inquiry, then, relies on a pedagogical interrelatedness between teacher and student and text, an interrelatedness influenced by time, location and space. I propose that within a real-time pedagogy, educators can look more fully not just to their students' emotions as sites for learning, but also to how their own emotions are ripe for inquiry, as emotions shape and are shaped by the spaces of classrooms.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Zum Hofe, Laurie, "Persuading emotional inquiry: Revising emotional practices in English classrooms" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3587946.