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ERIC Number: EJ939491
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Oct
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0361-476X
Topoi and Literary Interpretation: The Effects of a Critical Reading and Writing Intervention on High School Students' Analytic Literary Essays
Lewis, William E.; Ferretti, Ralph P.
Contemporary Educational Psychology, v36 n4 p334-354 Oct 2011
Literary scholars use specific critical lenses called "topoi" (Fahnestock & Secor, 1991) to read literature and write their interpretations of these texts. Literary topoi are used in the discourse of modern college literature classrooms (Wilder, 2002) and are associated with higher grades in students' literature classes (Wilder, 2002, 2005). However, research shows that high school students are generally unable to justify their literary interpretations (Marshall, 2000). In this study, six high school students were taught a strategy to recognize and use topoi to form an interpretation of literature, and then write an argument to support that interpretation. Three of the students were taught to recognize repeated examples of single patterns of symbolism and imagery that support a theme, i.e., the "ubiquity topos." The other three were taught to recognize opposing patterns of symbolism and imagery that support a theme, i.e., the "paradox topos." All participants were then taught to form arguments based on the topoi, to utilize direct quotations to back their arguments, and to write "tie-in sentences" that link the quotations to the writers' arguments. Instruction about these topoi resulted in higher quality argumentative essays that provided more textual evidence to support their literary interpretations. (Contains 6 tables and 9 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A