Accessibility statement

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies to explore Citizenship across nations

Posted on 21 April 2020

Department of Education’s undergraduate students collaborate with their counterparts in Pakistan and Norway.

Invite a group of students from Norway, Pakistan and the United Kingdom to read a classic English novel and then discuss it online. What will they choose to talk about? How will the discussions be structured? Will students from different parts of the world have similar or different ideas and areas of concern? Will the students explore the novel as a novel, or use it as a stimulus for debating their own issues?

These are some of the questions we had in mind when we invited some of the Department of Education’s undergraduate students to collaborate with their counterparts in Pakistan and Norway. The brief was to explore the potential of William Golding's famous 1954 novel Lord of the Flies to encourage intercultural dialogue about citizenship issues. Working closely with colleagues from the University of Sindh and the University of Western Norway, Dr Amanda Naylor and Dr Nicholas McGuinn devised an innovative pedagogical method, combining Literature Circles and Google Documents, to provide a platform for asynchronous online exchange between the three cohorts of students. The students used the platform to explore a range of responses to Lord of the Flies on a social, historical and political level.

The international team’s analysis of the data resulting from this work suggested differences between those students who regarded the text as a living document speaking directly to their personal experiences of citizenship issues and those for whom the novel remained a historical document, removed from their lived experience. The team contend that this research can contribute original and significant insights to the literature on teaching citizenship through literary texts such as the relationship between text choice and context, models of international collaboration at the higher education level and contrasting approaches towards citizenship and reading. The project revealed a wealth of data. The team is currently preparing a paper which explores the students’ response to the novel in terms of the moral issues it explores.

Read about the project team's currently-published work in the Cambridge Journal of Education DOI: 10.1080/0305764X.2020.1736002"