Building reading resilience: Re-thinking reading for the literary studies classroom

Kate Douglas, Tully Barnett, Anna Poletti, Judith Seaboyer, Rosanne Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This paper introduces the concept of ‘reading resilience’: students’ ability to read and interpret complex and demanding literary texts by drawing on advanced, engaged, critical reading skills. Reading resilience is a means for rethinking the place and pedagogies of close reading in the contemporary literary studies classroom. Our research was across four Australian universities and the first study of its kind in the Australian context. We trialled three working strategies to support students to become consistent and skilled readers, and to equip teachers with methods for coaching reading: ‘setting the scene’ for reading, surveying students on their reading experiences and habits, and rewarding reading within assessment. We argue that the nature and pedagogy of close reading has not been interrogated as much as it should be and that the building of reading resilience is less about modelling or outlining best practice for close reading (as has traditionally been thought) and more about deploying contextual, student-centred teaching and learning strategies around reading. The goal is to encourage students to develop a broad suite of skills and knowledge around reading that will equip them long term (for the university and beyond). We measured the effectiveness of our strategies through seeking formal and informal student feedback, and through students’ demonstration of skills and knowledge within assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-266
Number of pages13
JournalHigher Education Research & Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Close reading
  • Literary studies
  • Reading
  • Reading resilience
  • Student learning

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