ERIC Number: ED333434
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1990
Reference Count: N/A
Indeterminate Texts, Responsive Readers, and the Idea of Difficulty in Literature Learning. Report Series 4.1.
Purves, Alan C.
Assessors of literature learning have long been concerned with the issue of difficulty and the fundamental contradictions in the term "examination of literary understanding." An alternate view of literature is that although texts are finally indeterminate, a group of them has been set aside by communities as forming a part of the communal experience. Communities have selected them to be read aesthetically, and so the texts have developed a set of associations with each other. Subsequent writers acculturated into this "tradition" produce texts which are highly allusive to this communal set of literature. Literature curriculum, therefore, has the function of bringing the individual into the community, and appears to be aimed at providing the student with the requisite knowledge of the communal canon, as well as with the ways of reading that preserve the appropriate view of the functions of texts in the community. It follows that the difficulty of text is only partially determined by various characteristics of the text itself. A text's difficulty actually depends on the nature of the understanding expected. From this revised view of the curriculum in literature and of difficulty, those concerned with assessment can derive a set of principles by which to select texts, questions concerning texts, and criteria for judging answers to the questions. (Twenty-six references are included.) (PRA)
Descriptors: Community Attitudes, Community Influence, Difficulty Level, English Curriculum, Evaluation Criteria, Evaluation Methods, Group Experience, Higher Education, Literature, Reading Comprehension, Reading Processes, School Community Relationship, Secondary Education, Student Evaluation
Literature Center, University at Albany Ed B-9, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12222 ($3.00 prepaid; checks payable to the Research Foundation of SUNY).
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC.; Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for the Learning and Teaching of Literature, Albany, NY.