ERIC Number: ED251852
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Oct
Reference Count: 0
The Process of Responding to Poetry: High School Students Read Poetry.
Blake, Robert W.; Lunn, Anna
An alternative approach to the teaching of literature views the reading of a poem, short story, novel, or other literary work as an opportunity for a person to create his or her own immediate response. The approach suggests that there is no constant, objective meaning for a piece of literature, only individual responses reflecting the personalities of the respondents and the influences of the cultures in which they live. Under this approach the role of the literature teacher becomes that of a resource person who can show others how to create personal responses to literature. Following this line of thinking, a study was conducted to see how students respond to literature personally, subjectively, and emotionally. The subjects, five relatively untrained readers, two boys and three girls, 15 and 16 years old, were asked to read a new poem aloud, interpret it, and tape record that interpretation. The taped responses were then analyzed in two ways: sticking points in the poem were studied to see the various approaches used by different readers to try and decipher the poem's meaning, and the detailed response of a single reader was studied to see how the subject's mind functioned as she worked her way through the poem. The findings suggest that (1) the process of reading a poem is not a simple, linear, instantaneous task--rereading is necessary to become familiar with the text; (2) few students have any concept of how to approach reading a poem; (3) individuals respond differently to the same poem; and (4) there are about as many responses to a complex and sophisticated poem as there are students in a class. (RBW)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the New York State English Council (34th, Amherst, NY, October 18-19, 1984).