Echo, not quotation: what conversation analysis reveals about classroom responses to heard poetry

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This article applies conversation analysis to classroom talk-in-interaction where pupils respond to poetry they have heard. The phenomenon of repeating in discussion details from the poem, including patterns of delivery, is considered and named echo to distinguish it from quotation in writing. The phenomenon is significant to the pedagogy of literary study given the existing tacit and unexamined assumption that when pupils repeat textual details verbally this has equivalence with quotation in writing. Three episodes drawn from a single sequence of classroom interaction are presented together with a transcript of the stimulus heard poem. Each is accompanied by an interpretive commentary. It appears that echo in classroom discussions of poetry performs actions distinct from quotation in writing, for example that the acts of presenting and analysing textual detail occur simultaneously. The innovation of the research lies in the inclusion of the transcript-rendered poem as a turn in the sequence of interaction: as a verbally oriented method, conversation analysis provides an apt means of rendering response to poetry presented in the oral mode. More broadly, the discussion is consistent with the emergent popularity of conversation analysis as a method for considering classroom interactions with a view to reflecting on subtle aspects of learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-103
Number of pages21
JournalClassroom Discourse
Issue number1
Early online date5 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • conversation analysis
  • classroom interaction
  • poetry education
  • echo

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