Shirley Brice Heath

English Language and Literature

Within the study of English language and literature in English departments, attention rarely goes to the integration of spoken language with the production or reception of literature-a focus of Heath's research. This integration and what it means for literate identity, the history of literacy, and changing patterns of reading bear direct relationship to cultural patterns in the uses of time, space, and valuing of material objects, such as books. In particular, Heath has directed attention to particular genres or kinds of occasions for oral language uses, such as conversations. She links these occasions with the reading and writing of particular genres, such as essays and children's literature at certain points in British and American history.

Of particular interest to many students of English literature is a long-term study that Heath carried out during the 1980s and early 1990s of readers and writers of major American literary works. This work is reported by novelist and essayist Jonathan Franzen in a 1986 article in Harper's (April 1986) and in his 2003 volume of essays, How to Be Alone. See also Franzen's Perchance to Dream: In the age of images, a reason to write novels. Harper's (April 1986). [PDF Available]

actsofreading | Shirley Brice Heath

Some of Heath's publications on English language and literature are noted below:

Section 1: Writing, Conversation, and the English Essay

Forthcoming. "When NOT to write: Reflections on words, books, and authors". To appear in Cheryl Glenn & Roxanne Mountford, Eds. Rhetoric and writing studies in the new century: Historiography, pedagogy, and politics. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

1997. "The Essay in English: Readers and Writers in Dialogue". In Dialogue and Critical Discourse: Language, Culture, Critical Theory. M. Macovski, ed. New York: Oxford University Press. Pp. 195-214. [PDF Available]

1993. "Rethinking the Sense of the Past. The Essay as Legacy of the Epigram". In Theory and Practice in the Teaching of Writing: Rethinking the Discipline. L. Odell, ed. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. Pp. 105-131. [PDF Available]

1990. "Women in Conversation: Covert Models in American Language Ideology". In Language, Society, and Thought: Essays in Honor of Joshua A. Fishman's 65th Birthday. R. Cooper & B. Spolsky, eds. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co., Pp. 202-222.

Section 2: Children's Literature

2009. "The Deeper Game: Intuition, Imagination and Embodiment". In Acts of Reading: Teachers, Text and Childhood. Eds. Morag Styles & Evelyn Arizpe. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books. Pp. 43-58.

2006. (with Evelyn Arizpe and Morag Styles) "Child's Play for Private and Public Life". In Reading Lessons from the Eighteenth Century: Mothers, Children, and Texts. Shenstone, Lichfield, Staffordshire: Pied Piper Press. Pp. 179-207. [PDF Available]

1997. "Child's Play or Finding the Ephemera of Home". In Opening the Nursery Door: Reading, writing and childhood 1600-1900. M. Hilton, M. Styles, & V. Watson. London: Routledge Press. Pp. 17-31. [PDF Available]


Shirley Brice Heath