A persistent practice : the problem of the documentary lesson
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The documentary text, a relative newcomer to the textual armoury of subject English, has received remarkably limited theoretical discussion. It therefore provides an interesting opportunity for the contemporary researcher concerned with the reading/viewing practices that constitute modern textual study. This paper first presents an historical overview of the teaching of documentary texts in Western Australian secondary English classrooms. It is then argued that an alternative mode of study – drawn from existing research in the adjacent field of film studies – caters for a more balanced means of textual inquiry, unscrambling the documentary lesson to more evenly distribute attention across the three practices of the English curriculum; rhetorical instruction, ethical training and aesthetic cultivation.
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