Drama: Threat or Opportunity? Managing the ‘Dual Affect’ in Process Drama


  • Erika Piazzoli Trinity College Dublin
  • Claire Kennedy




In this paper we discuss the construct of ‘dual affect’ and its relevance to drama pedagogy in a foreign language teaching context. We draw on a research project involving a group of advanced learners of Italian using drama-based strategies. We begin with a theoretical discussion of dual affect, aesthetic distance, and protection mechanisms in the drama/language classroom. Next, we contextualise the research study and analyse student-participants’ responses in selected moments of the drama. The analysis suggests that, while some student-participants experienced the dual affect of drama as a threat, others found it a stimulus for reflection and a challenge. We argue that this may have had an impact on their perceived learning outcomes and on their willingness to communicate in the target language. We take this opportunity to reflect on the importance of managing dual affect in the process drama classroom, especially when working with advanced language students who have no prior experience in drama-based pedagogy.


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