At The Far Reach of their Capacities

Author: Peter Adams, Publisher: Phoenix

What if, Peter Adams asks in this important and original book, as English teachers, instead of always requiring our students to respond discursively to the literary texts that they encounter in our classrooms — by asking them to analyse, compare, describe, evaluate, explain or to defend a set position with a series of arguments — we were to offer them opportunities to sustain and deepen their engagement with those texts, both intellectual and emotional, by writing about them in creative–imaginative ways? What if, in Robert Witkin’s resonant phrase, we were to ask them “to make an artistic response to the artistic work of others”?

The result is evident in the remarkable pieces of writing which form the heart of this book, pieces of writing which not only show young writers working “at the far reach of their capacities” but which represent a deeply thoughtful, sustained and personal exploration of the significance of the work in question.

Peter Adams’ book represents a much–needed challenge to the view of literature teaching — both responding to literature and creating literature — that is embodied in The Australian Curriculum: English. The reissue of this book, nearly twenty years after its initial publication, could not be more timely.

This is a teachers' resource.


Foreword: John Dixon, Wayne Sawyer

Chapter 1: Beginnings
Chapter 2: "Sometimes I write the piece, and sometimes something inside me does" (Andrew Young and The Slave Dancer)
Chapter 3: "After I wrote it, I could see it more clearly" (Steve Huxter and The Owl Service)
Chapter 4: "I don't know why I write half these things!" (Kerry Gardner and Lord of the Flies)
Chapter 5: "It showed me lots of things I thought but couldn't write down like that" (Robert Paterson and A High Wind in Jamaica)
Chapter 6: "Rying Crooked"
Chapter 7: Matters of Practice

More Information
Date of Publication 2013
ISBN 9781921586675
Subject English