Sinifying Joyce: Appraising Second-Language Confucian Readers’ Constructions of Meaning in Ulysses
- C. A. DeCoursey
This paper explores how Chinese students construct the meaning of Joyce’s Ulysses. Second-language learners are known to use reading strategies with difficult texts such as Ulysses. This study of 157 undergraduate Chinese nonspecialists who read parts of Ulysses in an English literature general education course explores how Confucian values shape Chinese readers’ responses to Ulysses, in both reading strategies and content areas. Survey data was collected using a 4-point Likert scale. Qualitative data was gathered using six appraisal terms. Student reflections were analysed using Corpus Tool. Results indicate the primacy of culture in shaping individual readings. Second-language learners use metacritical reading strategies in making sense of this difficult text. However, the inclusion of culturally challenging material, and complex interiority and narrative moved these proficient second-language readers beyond their usual concerns with accuracy of translation and synthetic overviews of complex plot and character detail, towards literary reading. The challenges of Ulysses as a text induced appreciation of unreliability in narration, postmodern theories of meaning, and the disjunctures and discontinuities of the self, expressed in interior monologues, and disqualified in the social performance of identity.
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- Alice DingEditorial Assistant