September 27, 2005
The Process of Reading, Responding to and Writing About Literature
After reading this chapter, it became more evident to me that I am not just reading stories for plot summarization. While reading, it is important to be an "active reader" and pay close attention to words. I like the idea of responding to literature actively by writing in the margins my interpretations of what is happening or to make any appropriate notes. It is important to know the work's historical background before reading in order to develop a better sense for the character's actions or motives.
I found some extra helpful information on reading actively on another course web page:
Active reading means reading with your complete attention and with focus. Another way of putting it is that active reading is all about making text meaningful. There are many levels of meaning that we can discover in a text. Here are a few of the most important ones:
1. the genre of the text- is the text a novel, poem, an essay, or a work of non-fiction?;
2. the context in which the text was written – what was the historical period, the physical setting and the kind of society in which the writer lived?;
3. the audience for which the text was written – was it written for women or men, rich or poor, adults or children, the highly educated or a mass audience?;
4. the author’s explicit or implicit purpose for writing – what is the author trying to say or is assuming?;
5. the levels of meaning in the text – does the text operate on a number of different levels of sophistication?;
6. the hidden meanings in the t ext- what symbols or codes does the writer use to convey special meaning?;
7. the unintended meanings in the text- what meanings can critical readers attribute to the text that the author never intended?;
8. the meanings that different audiences attributes to the text- has the text been read differently by different groups at different times?;
9. the academic significance of the text- what is the significance of the text for the academic significance or university course in which it is being read?;
10. the personal meaning that the text has for you – how was the book special or how did it affect you?
You will no doubt have noticed that we left personal meaning until the very last. There’s a good reason for this. Too many students get so caught up with their own personal reaction to what they are reading. The multiplicity of meanings that are possible in a complex text often lead students into the error of believing that their opinion is just as good as anyone else’s.
Active reading means suspending your personal and often emotional response to a text in order to explore its meanings more thoughtfully, analytically, and synthetically. First impressions, with texts as with people, are often misleading. The more you learn about different possible meanings, the more you will appreciate the qualities of the text that you might have overlooked before.
Posted by AshleyHoltzer at September 27, 2005 04:18 PM
Posted by: AshleyHoltzer at September 27, 2005 04:35 PM