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Introduction First, the chapter will begin with the definition and elements of literature-based instruction (LBI) as well

as a theoretical basis for literature-based L2 instruction (LBLI). The remainder of the chapter provides a review of literature concerning the ESL/EFL learning contexts for young learners ranging from primary to secondary students, followed by the section on the research studies dealing with adult ESL/EFL learning settings. The chapter also presents a rationale for employing childrens or adolescent literature for adult ESL learners. First, cognitive theory and research in discourse comprehension are discussed. The topics addressed pertain to issues of representation and models of knowledge which have been established as important aspects of cognitive theories of comprehension. In addition, the treatment of text and reader variables in text comprehension research is examined. Third, the cognitive study of expertise is discussed with the goal of identifying some principles from research on science expertise which may inform the study of expertise in literary communication. A discussion of the use of verbal protocols as data is included along with a discussion of semantically-based models of discourse analysis. Finally, psychological

approaches to the study of reasoning are reviewed and reasoning studies in knowledge-rich domains are discussed from the standpoint of their application to investigating literary reasoning. Skills Based Approaches to the Teaching of Literature

Teaching literature Introduction Chapter 1: Using literature in the language classroom: the issues 1. Scope and definition: What is literature? 2. What is distinctive about the language of literature? 3. The reader, the text, and the context 4. Literary competence and the language classroom 5. Goals for teaching literature: what does it mean to teach literature? 6. The significance of literary texts in language teaching 7. Relevance of literature to TEOL programmes 8. Understanding students individual differences: who are my students? 9. Why use literature in the language classroom? Chapter 2: approaches to suing literature with the language learner 1. An overview 2. Promoting student engagement and self-efficacy 3. The aesthetic style of teaching the classics

4. problems with the traditional method of teaching the classics 5. A language-based approach to using literature 6. Stylistics in the classroom 7. Project-based literary instruction 8. Reader response theory 9. Stylistic approach: an alternative approach to the teaching literature 10. Literature as content: how far to go? 11. Literature for personal enrichment: involving students 12. The role of metalanguage Chapter 4: reading literature cross-culturally 1. Being a student 2. A consideration of cultural aspects in texts 3. Strategies for overcoming cultural problems Chapter 5: enrichment of experience though genuine literature 1. Realizable presentation of life in literature 2. Truth to human experience 3. Literature as an interpretation of life 4. Summary Chapter 6: An overview of literature instruction history and politics 1. The political responsibility of the teaching of literatures 2. Literacy and literature: making or consuming culture? 3. The politics of teaching literature: the pedagogical effects 4. the history of teaching the classics 5. Afterword: teaching literature for the future 6. A few more words about democracy and reader response 1. Introduction: innovation, instruction, and literary studies Part 1: literary license: alternative readings and writings 1. Piloting new channels in writing about literature 2. Epistolary pedagogy and electronic mail 3. On teaching literature students to interpret 4. Generative criticism in the seminar room: applying lateral thinking to the study of litearary theory 5. Exploration and discovery in the undergraduate survey of literature: the poster presentation 6. Permeable boundaries: arts within the arts Part 2: visual literacy and visualizing literature

1. Figuring literary theory and refiguring teaching: graphics in the undergraduate literary theory course 2. From short fiction to dramatic event: mental imagery, the perceptual basis of learning in the aesthetic reading experience 3. The look of a book: using technology to visualize narrative structure 4. Sculpting the text 5. Alchemy to chemistry: integrating science and humanities 6. Theme days: literature across the curriculum Chapter 7: cyberlit: hypertext; hypermedia, and multimedia 1. Project-based literary instruction: the women of the romantic period hypertext 2. Hypermedia design in the English classroom 3. Hypertextual and networked communication in undergraduate literature classes: strategies for interactive critical pedagogy 4. Linear modeling: giving technologys power to students 5. Shakespeare online: reflections on teaching and learning 6. Videos and the virtual classroom: a teleweb for teaching modern American poetry Introduction Chapter 2: the teachers literary equipment 1. Actual teachers literary familiarities and preferences 2. What we ought to do about it: the necessity of: a. Really knowing how to read b. Variety and depth of first-hand experience c. Much genuine experience of excellent literature d. Knowledge of major classification of literature e. Realization of literary periods and essential influences f. Consequent command of valid criteria of excellence

g. A sense of the relation of excellent manner, of style, to literature 3. Summary Chapter 3: beginning with childrens actual experiences and interests 1. Three fundamental educational principles a. We must begin where children actually are b. We must secure together significant and valuable materials of study c. We must help pupils to realize the immediate worth of our subject d. On knowing real children e. Childrens actual choices of books

f.

The bases of these interests in original nature

Chapter ix: the uses of composition in teaching literature 1. Good and simple book notes and examination in literature 2. Childrens own attempts at literature 3. Summary Chapter x: educational dramatization and dramatic reading 1. Informal dramatic reading in the elementary school 2. Prepared dramatizations of the pupils own sense of a narrative 3. The values of these sorts of dramatization 4. Summary Literary genres Chapter 1: Shorties 1. Types of short narrative forms 2. Teaching techniques 3. Short story 4. Story telling 5. Characteristics of the short story 6. Why should short stories be used in ELT? 7. Teaching short stories: methods and approaches to teach short stories Pre-reading activities While reading activities Post-reading activities Chapter 2: novels 1. Classroom canon 2. Types of novels 3. Reading approaches 4. Exploiting techniques Chapter 3: poetry 1. Definition and status 2. Teaching options 3. Types of poetry 4. Poetic devices Chapter 4: plays 1. Long and short types 2. Analyzing drama

3. Learning by playing Chapter 5: modern media 1. Forms and functions 2. Literature and music 3. Literature and film 4. Literature and internet Chapter iv: types of excellent literature within childrens interests 1. Genuine literature for children 2. Books with values as subject-matter 3. The problem of school-library lists Chapter 6: assessment 1. Standards 2. Test formats 3. Course assessments 4. Suggested answers for the tasks 5. Assessing literature in context a. Asking questions of context b. Forty years on: the evolution of English studies c. Canon vs. critical literacy d. What is at the heart of English studies? e. Setting set texts f. The end of texts?

Chapter 8: Planning and organizing literature instruction: 1. How do I decide what to teach? 2. Using drama to foster interpretation: how can I help students to read better? 3. Using narratives in the classroom for both teaching and learning literature: whats the use of story? 4. Leading classroom discussions of literature: how do I get students to talk about literature? 5. Writing about literature: how do I get students to write about literature?

6. Teaching text- and task-specific strategies: how does the shape of a text change the Shape of my teaching? 7. Teaching the classics: do I have to teach the canon; and if so, how do I do it? 8. Multiple Perspectives To Engage Students With Literature/ What Are Different Ways Of Seeing? 9. Teaching media literacy/ what else is text and how do I teach it? 10. Assessing and evaluating students learning/ how do I know what students have learned? 11. Text selection, censorship, creating an ethical classroom environment, and teacher professionalism: how do I stay in control, out of trouble, and continue to develop as a teacher? 12. Structuring whole class reading activities 13. Chapter 1: student voice, discussion and lecture a. questioning b. creating an environment for effective class discussion 14. Chapter 2: preparing through pre-reading a. Poster project b. Music project c. Shorter works project d. Drama-as-power project e. Role-play project f. Visual arts gallery project

g. Resources for all pre-reading projects 15. Chapter3: during-reading activities a. Making text kinesthetic b. Creating graphic novels c. Readers theater d. Character bookmarks e. Found poetry 16. Chapter 4: after-reading activities a. Character biography b. Character questionnaire c. Character book bag d. Character postcard e. Mapping it out f. Text timeline

g. Making memories h. Movie magic

i. j.

Theme sketches I saw it

k. Rapping up the text l. After-reading projects

17. Chapter 5: writing activities a. Journal writing b. Reader-response logs c. Creative writing d. Freewriting e. Literature letters f. Character diaries

18. Chapter 6: vocabulary activities a. Anglo-Saxon vocabulary b. Invading words c. Words in action d. Wont sort e. Graphic organizers

19. Poetry in context a. Ozymandias: Shelly and smith b. Conversation with Coleridge c. False context: T.S. Eliot d. When is a sonnet not a sonnet? Form as context 20. Shakespearean contexts a. Teaching Shakespeare: 21. Contexts and the novel a. Meaning and context: handsome in Jane Austen b. Ways of seeingteaching a new novel c. Englishness in the contemporary novel: lodge, barns and smith d. Film and image as context: 22. Non-fiction prose in context a. Essays and blogs: Woolf, carter and beard b. Travel writing in a literary context: Brookes letters from America 23. Conflict and calamity as context in literature a. War poetry, close reading and context: Blunden, Sasson, and Faulks

b. Memorializing the Great War: war memorials and war poetry c. Unusual contexts: Aldington and levi

Part 1: teaching literature in context and context in literature 1. Writer and readers: context and creativity -writers on writing -contextual and inter-textual study -the community of literature -the intention of the text -ways of seeing 2. The case for close reading Is English out of touch? The habit of close reading Close reading in the post-theory era 3. context in context Contexts vs. sources Background and foreground Putting the claims of context into context Enlarging the frame of attention 4. Moving on: from English literature to English studies Read the prospectus: what universities want? Preparing students: poetry and translation Stretch and challenge: from S level to A Preparing students: comparing texts and taking risk Part 2: teaching to the text: contextual close reading 5. World and time: close reading and context Primary and secondary contexts Titles as contexts composed upon Westminster bridge Conclusion: understanding the insights of others Resources Professional associations, websites, journals, books Notes Index Conclusion

Introduction: this old stuff aint so bad --the green teacher Putting these strategies into action Part 1: teaching the classics to all students Part 2: working with selected classic texts Chapter 7: putting the strategies into action Instructional plan to teaching Romeo and Juliet to all students Chapter 3: selecting and evaluating materials 1. Selecting texts 2. Evaluating learning materials which make use of literary texts Chapter 5: material design and lesson planning: novels and short stories 1. Writing your own story 2. Distinctive features of a short story 3. Anticipating student problems when using a short story 4. Planning a lesson for use with a short story 5. Further tasks and activities for use with a short story 6. Designing your own materials for use with a short story 7. Using novels in the language classroom Chapter 6: materials design and lesson planning: poetry 1. Putting a poem back together again 2. What is distinctive about poetry? 3. Why use poetry with the language learner? 4. Exploiting unusual language features 5. Helping students with figurative meanings 6. Using poetry to develop oral skills 7. Using a poem with students at higher levels 8. Anticipating student problems 9. Furthert tasks and activities Chapter 7: materials design and lesson planning: plays 1. What is distinctive about plays? 2. The language of a play 3. The performance of a play 4. Why use plays in the language learning classroom? 5. Using play extracts to think about language in conversation 6. Using play extracts to improve students oral skills

7. Using play extracts with lower levels 8. Anticipating student problems 9. Further activities for play extracts 10. Using a whole play with students Chapter 8: reflecting on the literature lesson 1. Thinking about observation 2. General observation of the literature lesson 3. Micro-tasks for reflecting on specific areas of teaching 4. Observing a student 5. other ways of monitoring your teaching Chapter 9: literature and self-access 1. What is a literature self-access centre? 2. Why have a literature self-access centre? 3. A simulation: first meeting for planning and setting up a literature self-access centre 4. Second meeting for setting up a literature self-access centre 5. Setting up a literature self-access center: a case study 6. Worksheets to guide students in their reading 7. Answer key 8. Trainers note 9. Appendix: evenline by james joyce Chapter vii. Class help in the understanding of literature 1. Literature as requiring real study 2. The book clubs 3. Turning the class back on itself 4. The curse of irrelevant details and information 5. What study is of most worth 6. Summary Chapter viii. Background and approaches 1. Distinguishing between true and false introduction 2. Reading aloud with comment 3. Providing essential backgrounds 4. Summary 5. LITERARY UNDERSTANDING AS A COGNITIVE PROCESS 6. The relationship between an author's intentions and a reader's understanding of a literary text has long been the subject of debate within literary studies. The argument began with the

position that understanding an author's intentions was an essential component for understanding the literary text and the only means by which an interpretation could be validated. This position lost ground in the middle of the twentieth century to the interpretive view of the literary text as an independent aesthetic object which could be successfully understood in terms of its own structure and coherence. From this perspective, textual interpretation was thought to be derived solely from an examination of text properties. Literary studies focused exclusively on the properties of the text with the goal of interpretation. Additional information pertaining to the author or to the historical period and cultural mores was considered irrelevant for literary reading. Within this theoretical framework, the influence of the author in the interpretive process was greatly diminished. 7. In the 1960s the European structuralist movement undertook to replace the interpretive paradigm altogether by making the study of literature a science which would be explanatory rather than interpretive (Culler, 1981). This shift was explicitly signaled by Barthes (1966/1977) with the now famous pronouncement "the author is dead" (p. 142). The interest was no longer in the meaning of a literary work but rather on the devices which enabled it to be realized within a social context. Thus, within literary studies the emphasis shifted to the social construction of meaning in the production and reception of literary text. 8. As a result of this shift, both the instability of the text and the role of the reader in literary communication became important topics within critical theories about literature (Culler, 1981; Eco, 1979; Fish, 1980; Rosenblatt, 1978). Without the author's intentions serving as the main constraint on interpretation, the text became indeterminate and new theories were developed to address the issue. A number of reader response theories which privilege the contribution of the reader, maintained that it was the interpretive community that controlled the interpretation (Fish, 1980). Others identified prevailing literary conventions which have developed over time as the principal determinants of a given interpretation (Culler, 1981). Generally, literary debates on the relationship between the literary reader, the author, and the text have tended to privilege one aspect over another a priori. At the extremes of the reader-author continuum, readers were either enjoying unlimited possible readings or alternately they were reading in accord with the author's intentions. 9. Not all theorists, however, subscribed to this either-or position. Rather, they addressed the relation between the author, the reader, and the text and focused on the interactive aspects of that relationship (Currie, 1990; Eco, 1992; Rosenblatt, 1938; 1978; 1985). Reading was conceptualized a complex transaction in which the importance of the reader was undeniable, but at the same time the reading response was always in relation to a text and guided by textua1 dues (Rosenblatt, 1978; 1985). The interconnected factors which guided a reader's response to a literary work included the structure of the narrative, the reader's understanding of the purpose for that structure, the reader's expectations of how the story would develop, and

those text features which the readers found salient. The way in which these components contributed to the reader's response depended on the reader's assumptions about the author's intentions (Currie, 1990). 10. The renewed discussion of the role of author in literary reading does not focus on recovering the original intentions of the empirical author but rather on how readers construe the intentionality underlying the production of the text. This view is expressed by Eco (1992) who maintains that the aim of the text is to produce the model reader who reads it more or less as it was designed to be read and that it is the intention of the text that constrains readers' interpretations. At the same time, the intention of the text can only be realized if it is inferred by the reader. More specifically, it has been suggested that when confronted with unfamiliar or problematic situations which make understanding difficult, readers have to resort to guessing about the assumptions and aims of the author in order to understand what is going on (Livingston, 1992). 11. While the intentions of the empirical author may be irrelevant for a reader's interpretation, in discussing the nature of meaning and the limits and possibilities of interpretation, the notion of unlimited semiosis does not lead to the conclusion that interpretation has no criteria (Eco, 1992). While the reader enjoys the latitude of generating multiple interpretations, Eco argues that textual coherence controls the reading process and an acceptable interpretation is one which is supported by internal textual evidence. Taken together these components constitute a communicative system which' includes the intention of the author, the intention of the reader and the intention of the text as well as the relations among them. ( Barbara Graves, 1996, p. 3) 12. The interplay among these components presents an interesting problem to investigate from an empirical perspective. In contrast to North American literary studies, the empirical study of literature is becoming an established discipline within the European literary tradition. In Germany Schmidt (1980, 1983) has set the agenda for theory-based, empirical research to study the complex processes of literary activities and to develop a model of literary processing. Unlike the interpretive approach with its focus on the literary text, Schmidt's goal is to apply the construct of systems theory to characterize literature as a self-organizing, autonomous system which is distinct from other social systems. While there are many debates among sociological literary theorists as to whether the literary situation meets the full range of criteria which identify systems (Barsch, 1991; Bordieu, 1991; Schmidt, 1991) the underlying consensus is that literature involves much more than the study of literary texts. Rather, the literary situation includes the entire practice related to production, distribution, reception and post-processing (Schmidt, 1980; 1991). At the same time it is assumed that the literary situation involving texts, authors and readers can be best examined empirically by adapting methodologies developed in the social sciences, particularly from cognitive psychology (Meutsch, 1989; Steen, 1992; Zwaan, 1993).

13.

From a psychological perspective, literary reading, like other forms of reading, constitutes a communicative process between readers and writers mediated by written text, and to communicate successfully it relies on establishing an appropriate context for the reading. The challenge for understanding the process of literary reading is that each literary text presents novel problems. Readers vary widely with respect to their general world knowledge and their specific literary knowledge, and this knowledge is important in establishing a context. The context may be derived from multiple sources which include understanding the words, the events of the narrative, the plans and goals of the characters, as well as thematic information. ( Barbara Graves, 1996, p. 4) At the same time the context also incorporates the communicative context which includes a model of the author, the reader and the text. Previous research has shown how construction of an author model while reading influences the strategic behaviors of readers (Gibbs. Kushner, & Mills, 1991; Flower, 1987; Haas & Flower, 1988; Vipond & Hunt. 1984). Even when the author's identity is unavailable, there is evidence that expert readers construct a hypothetical model of the author (Graves & Frederiksen. 1991).

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Contents [hide]

1 History of literary criticism


o o o o o o o

1.1 Classical and medieval criticism 1.2 Renaissance criticism 1.3 19th-century criticism 1.4 The New Criticism 1.5 Theory 1.6 History of the Book 1.7 The current state of literary criticism

2 Bibliography 3 See also 4 External links

[edit] History of literary criticism [edit] Classical and medieval criticism Literary criticism has probably existed for as long as literature. Aristotle wrote the Poetics, a typology and description of literary forms with many specific criticisms of contemporary works of art, in the 4th century BC. Poetics developed for the first time the concepts of mimesis and catharsis, which are still crucial in literary study. Plato's attacks on poetry as imitative, secondary, and false were formative as well. Around the same time, Bharata Muni, in his Natya Shastra, had written literary criticism on ancient Indian literature and Sanskrit drama. Later classical and medieval criticism often focused on religious texts, and the several long religious traditions of hermeneutics and textual exegesis have had a profound influence on the study of secular

texts. This was particularly the case for the literary traditions of the three Abrahamic religions: Jewish literature, Christian literature and Islamic literature. Literary criticism was also employed in other forms of medieval Arabic literature and Arabic poetry from the 9th century, notably by Al-Jahiz in his al-Bayan wa-'l-tabyin and al-Hayawan, and by Abdullah ibn al-Mu'tazz in his Kitab al-Badi.[1] [edit] Renaissance criticism The literary criticism of the Renaissance developed classical ideas of unity of form and content into literary neoclassicism, proclaiming literature as central to culture, entrusting the poet and the author with preservation of a long literary tradition. The birth of Renaissance criticism was in 1498, with the recovery of classic texts, most notably, Giorgio Valla's Latin translation of Aristotle's Poetics. The work of Aristotle, especially Poetics, was the most important influence upon literary criticism until the latter eighteenth century. Lodovico Castelvetro was one of the most influential Renaissance critics who wrote commentaries on Aristotle's Poetics in 1570. [edit] 19th-century criticism The British Romantic movement of the early nineteenth century introduced new aesthetic ideas to literary study, including the idea that the object of literature need not always be beautiful, noble, or perfect, but that literature itself could elevate a common subject to the level of the sublime. German Romanticism, which followed closely after the late development of German classicism, emphasized an aesthetic of fragmentation that can appear startlingly modern to the reader of English literature, and valued Witz that is, "wit" or "humor" of a certain sort more highly than the serious Anglophone Romanticism. The late nineteenth century brought renown to authors known more for critical writing than for their own literary work, such as Matthew Arnold. [edit] The New Criticism However important all of these aesthetic movements were as antecedents, current ideas about literary criticism derive almost entirely from the new direction taken in the early twentieth century. Early in the century the school of criticism known as Russian Formalism, and slightly later the New Criticism in Britain and America, came to dominate the study and discussion of literature. Both schools emphasized the close reading of texts, elevating it far above generalizing discussion and speculation about either authorial intention (to say nothing of the author's psychology or biography, which became almost taboo subjects) or reader response. This emphasis on form and precise attention to "the words themselves" has persisted, after the decline of these critical doctrines themselves.

[edit] Theory In 1957 Northrop Frye published the influential Anatomy of Criticism. In his works Frye noted that some critics tend to embrace an ideology, and to judge literary pieces on the basis of their adherence to such ideology. In the British and American literary establishment, the New Criticism was more or less dominant until the late 1960s. Around that time Anglo-American university literature departments began to witness a rise of a more explicitly philosophical literary theory, influenced by structuralism, then poststructuralism, and other kinds of Continental philosophy. It continued until the mid-1980s, when interest in "theory" peaked. Many later critics, though undoubtedly still influenced by theoretical work, have been comfortable simply interpreting literature rather than writing explicitly about methodology and philosophical presumptions. [edit] History of the Book Related to other forms of literary criticism, the history of the book is a field of interdisciplinary enquiry drawing on the methods of bibliography, cultural history, history of literature, and media theory. Principally concerned with the production, circulation, and reception of texts and their material forms, book history seeks to connect forms of textuality with their material aspects. Among the issues within the history of literature with which book history can be seen to intersect are: the development of authorship as a profession, the formation of reading audiences, the constraints of censorship and copyright, and the economics of literary form. [edit] The current state of literary criticism Today interest in literary theory and Continental philosophy coexists in university literature departments with a more conservative literary criticism of which the New Critics would probably have approved. Acrimonious disagreements over the goals and methods of literary criticism, which characterized both sides taken by critics during the "rise" of theory, have declined (though they still happen), and many critics feel that they now have a great plurality of methods and approaches from which to choose. Some critics work largely with theoretical texts, while others read traditional literature; interest in the literary canon is still great, but many critics are also interested in minority and women's literatures, while some critics influenced by cultural studies read popular texts like comic books or pulp/genre fiction. Ecocritics have drawn connections between literature and the natural sciences. Many literary

critics also work in film criticism or media studies. Some write intellectual history; others bring the results and methods of social history to bear on reading literature. Ronald Dworkin, the well respected American legal philosopher, has argued that the purpose of literary critique (from the so-called "aesthetic hypothesis") is to show which manner of reading reveals a text to be the best possible work of art.[citation needed] [edit] Bibliography

Day, Gary. Literary Criticism: A New History. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7486-1563-6

Habib, M.A.R. A History of Literary Criticism: From Plato to the Present. ISBN 0-63123200-1

Holquist, Michael. Dialogism: Bakhtin and His World, Second Edition. Routledge, 2002. Holquist, Michael. Introduction. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. By Mikhail Bakhtin. Eds. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986. ix-xxiii.

Holquist, Michael. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. By Mikhail Bakhtin. Austin and London: University of Texas Press, 1981.

Murray, Chris, ed. Encyclopedia of Literary Critics and Criticism. London [etc.] : Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999

[edit] See also


Category:Literary critics Literary theory


o

List of literary terms

History of the Book Deconstruction (a strategy of reading developed by Jacques Derrida) Marxist literary criticism Feminist literary criticism Ecocriticism Postcolonial literary criticism Psychoanalytic literary criticism Semiotic literary criticism Genre studies Hysterical realism Modern Language Association

Comparative Literature Poetic tradition Darwinian literary studies Reader-Response Criticism New Historicism Sociological criticism

[edit] External links Listen to this article (info/dl)

This audio file was created from a revision dated 2006-10-18, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. (Audio help) More spoken articles

Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Literary Criticism Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism Award Winners Internet Public Library: Literary Criticism Collection of Critical and Biographical Websites

Reader Response Welcome to Session 1:, featuring selected works by Pat Mora and James Welch. To enhance your teaching of multicultural literature in high school we have provided:

An overview of the reader-response theory Lesson plans corresponding to each video program A guide (downloadable PDF) to the workshop session activities Reader-response teaching strategies Biographies of featured authors along with synopses of their work and further resources A bibliography of additional resources

View this video==>

Explanation

Impact on teaching literature

Incorporating reader response in the classroom

Benefits and challenges of using a reader-response approach

Explanation Reader response stresses the importance of the reader's role in interpreting texts. Rejecting the idea that there is a single, fixed meaning inherent in every literary work, this theory holds that the individual creates his or her own meaning through a "transaction" with the text based on personal associations. Because all readers bring their own emotions, concerns, life experiences, and knowledge to their reading, each interpretation is subjective and unique.

Many trace the beginning of reader-response theory to scholar Louise Rosenblatt's influential 1938 work Literature As Exploration. Rosenblatt's ideas were a reaction to the formalist theories of the New Critics, who promoted "close readings" of literature, a practice which advocated rigid scholarly detachment in the study of texts and rejected all forms of personal interpretation by the reader. According to Rosenblatt, the New Critics treated the text as "an autonomous entity that could be objectively analyzed" using clear-cut technical criteria. Rosenblatt believed instead that "the reading of any work of literature is, of necessity, an individual and unique occurrence involving the mind and emotions of some particular reader and a particular text at a particular time under particular circumstances."

Impact

on

teaching

literature

Over the last several decades, reader-response techniques have become firmly established in American classrooms. Language arts teachers at all levels now widely accept central tenets of the theory, particularly the notion that learning is a constructive and dynamic process in which students extract meaning from texts through experiencing, hypothesizing, exploring, and synthesizing. Most importantly, teaching reader response encourages students to be aware of what they bring to texts as readers; it helps them to recognize the specificity of their own cultural backgrounds and to work to understand the cultural background of others.

Using reader response in the classroom can have a profound impact on how students view texts and how they see their role as readers. Rather than relying on a teacher or critic to give them a single, standard interpretation of a text, students learn to construct their own meaning by connecting the

textual material to issues in their lives and describing what they experience as they read. Because there is no one "right" answer or "correct" interpretation, the diverse responses of individual readers are key to discovering the variety of possible meanings a poem, story, essay, or other text can evoke.

Students in reader-response classrooms become active learners. Because their personal responses are valued, they begin to see themselves as having both the authority and the responsibility to make judgments about what they read. (This process is evident in the video programs, when students are asked to choose a line of poetry and explain why it is important to them.) The responses of fellow students also play a pivotal role: Through interaction with their peers, students move beyond their initial individual reaction to take into account a multiplicity of ideas and interpretations, thus broadening their perspective.

Incorporating

reader

response

in

the

classroom

As increasing numbers of elementary, middle, and secondary school language arts teachers have come to accept reader-response theory over the last 25 years, the instructional techniques that support it have become more common in classrooms: Literature circles, journal writing, and peer writing groups all grew out of the reader-response movement. These teaching strategies value student-initiated analysis over teacher-led instruction, promote open-ended discussion, and encourage students to explore their own thinking and trust their own responses.

Benefits

and

challenges

of

using

reader-response

approach

Research has shown that students in reader-response-based classrooms read more and make richer personal connections with texts than students using more traditional methods. They tend to be more tolerant of multiple interpretations, and because they learn techniques that help them recognize the ways in which their own arguments are formed, they are better equipped to examine the arguments of others. In short, reader response helps students to become better critical readers.

While these techniques encourage a broad range of textual interpretations and reactions, students must learn, however, that not every response is equally valid or appropriate. The meaning of a text is not an entirely subjective matter, of course, and it is crucial that responses be grounded in the text itself and

in the context in which the text is read. One way of guarding against students "running wild" is to make sure that there's a community restraint on interpretation. That is, if the teacher structures readerresponse exercises carefully, each individual student is challenged by the discussion to go beyond his or her first response. Even though an individual reader's reactions are based on his or her own "schema" (the expectations that arise from personal experiences), he or she will realize in class discussion that not everyone shares that same perspective.

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