Chapter 4. Transforming readings

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In this chapter, book group discourse is analyzed, with the view of considering how literary interpretation happens across short extracts of talk. The book group is seen as a learning environment, a community of practice in which the ‘private’ readings that readers bring to meetings can be transformed through discussing the text with others. Readings are analysed in terms of Allan Bell’s interpretative arc, as this model sees the incremental nature of literary interpretation. Extracts from one particular reading group meeting are considered and the transcript data is approached in a sociolinguistic fashion. Analysis demonstrates that interpretation in this context is more than the sum of its parts, so that what is produced in the talk is group reading rather than isolated, individual action.


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