ERIC Number: ED304193
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988-Oct-15
Reference Count: N/A
Reading and Writing about Literature: Questions and Confidence.
Dean, Ruth B.
According to Wolfgang Iser's "The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response," the meaning of a literary text is created by each individual reader in response to gaps, or indeterminacies, in the text. With the application of this theory to the two-year college classroom, teachers can show inexperienced readers how to discover the meaning of literature for themselves, instead of passively receiving the teachers' interpretations. The method is particularly useful for students who lack confidence or have difficulty with academic language. The gaps in meaning in a text do not represent a failure of students' understanding or perceptive powers, on the contrary, the gaps become opportunities for students to discover their own creative imagination. Following the steps of this process, the teacher: (1) has each student write out one question about an assigned text; (2) writes out all questions on the black board, with the more global questions first (e.g., What is happening?) and the questions that sum up the text last (e.g., What was the author trying to say?); (3) leads a discussion about the questions without providing answers, so that students see that the questions define the indeterminacies in the text; (4) repeats the process for other texts, showing that while no questions are wrong, some are more useful than others in discovering the meaning of a text; (5) has students create a "gap" question about a text and write an experimental paragraph proposing answers to the question that bridge the gap; (6) has students share their questions and answers in small group discussions; and (7) using the same process, assigns a final formal essay based on a text chosen by each student. The initial bewilderment students feel in the beginning of the process turns into a genuine encounter with meaning. Samples of students' gap questions are provided. (AJL)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Community Colleges of Chicago National Literature Conference (3rd, Chicago, IL, October 14-15, 1988).