Mobilizing Emotion in an Urban English Classroom

Cynthia Lewis, Jessica Dockter Tierney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In this paper, we argue that emotion in English classrooms is a mediated action mobilized through discursive and material practices that transform texts and signs. We first provide an overview of the current state of English as a secondary school subject in the United States to provide a context for our work on emotion within a critical literacy framework. Next, we theorize emotion as mediated action rather than as an internal psycho-physiological state. Finally, we offer an example of how emotion was mobilized in a racially and ethnically diverse classroom that focused on documentary film analysis and production in ways that constrained and enabled particular ideologies, identities, and opportunities for learners. We argue that personal growth models of English focus on the right and tasteful kind of affect (or feeling) and mask the ideological roots of language which emotion - when we cease to police it - has the potential to illuminate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-329
Number of pages11
JournalChanging English: Studies in Culture and Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Classroom discourse
  • Critical literacy
  • Emotion
  • Mediated action
  • Mediated discourse
  • Social semiotics

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