Neuro Humanities Studies

David S. Miall,

Empowering the reader: Literary response and classroom learning

Source: In Roger J. Kreuz and Susan M.
Year: 1996
Topics: Emotion; Cognition;
Disciplines: Literature;

Download size: 149.48 KB
During interviews with university students in an English degree course, it was found that a majority of students expressed disappointment with their high school experience of English literature classes. Among the problems often cited were: frequent tests of superficial aspects of literary texts, the memorization of analytical terms unrelated to literary values, and being expected to guess the teacher's preferred interpretation. Dislike of reading literature appeared to be a common outcome of such practices. Reader response studies are examined as a basis for rethinking classroom methods. It is suggested that readers will be empowered to read literature with greater competence and pleasure by recognition of individual differences in response, by working with what readers find striking or evocative in the texts they read, and by facilitating readers' feelings during the act of reading. A revised conception of catharsis in literary response is proposed.


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