Philology, theory, and critical thinking through the history of the English language

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter summarizes recent scholarship on the history of philology and literary theory, and on calls for a “return to philology.” It explains the potential usefulness of theoretical questions for teaching the History of the English language (HEL). It summarizes a set of relevant theoretical issues for organizing a HEL curriculum along a series of contrasts and self-critical questions: synchrony vs. diachrony; content vs. structure; levels of change; conscious vs. unconscious variation; stability vs. instability; standard vs. nonstandard; language difference and identity. The chapter then presents a series of sample inquiries and resources for foregrounding these issues in teaching practice. It concludes with a summary set of practical observations about teaching outcomes for promoting greater discourse awareness through HEL, and the potential scope for further theoretical elaboration in HEL teaching.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationApproaches to Teaching the History of the English Language
Subtitle of host publicationPedagogy in Practice
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780190611040
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2017. All rights reserved.


  • Critical theory
  • History of the English language
  • Linguistics
  • Literary theory
  • Pedagogy
  • Philology
  • Teaching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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