Students' Use of Languaging in Rewriting Events from The Things They Carried

Richard Beach


This article describes high school students’ responses to events in the novel, The Things They Carried, leading to their collaborative rewriting to create their own narrative versions of these events. It draws on “enactivist” theory of languaging, an approach to language that focuses on its use as social actions to enact and build relationships with others (Cowley, 2011; Linell, 2009). The focus is on “in-between” meanings constituted by “shared intentionality” (Di Paolo & De Jaegher, 2012) in readers’ transactions with authors’ portrayals of events in texts as well as in responding to uses of languaging in characters’ interactions. Analysis of four students’ rewriting events from the novel indicated that they drew on their responses to the novel to portray tensions in their characters’ interactions as well as their own experiences of coping with these tensions. Students also benefitted from collaboratively creating their narratives through sharing their different perspectives on events in the texts, suggesting the value of using collaborative rewriting activities to enhance students’ literary responses and awareness of how languaging functions to enact relationships.


reader response; narratives; events; storywriting; languaging; sense-making; interactions; collaboration; composition

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