Making Meaning With Texts Selected Essays

Making Meaning With Texts Selected Essays-36
A model that we find attractive is Louise Rosenblatt’s transactional theory (Rosenblatt 1970, 1978), which has influenced the teaching of literature in both the USA and the UK.Rosenblatt’s theory is a reader-response theory that stresses the active role of the reader in the process of meaning-making but also acknowledges the importance the text itself.Additionally, although the Walliams extract didn’t contain any world-switches, texts may shift rapidly in terms of time or space, and/or explore the events through multiple points of view to generate complex fictional worlds.

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In this post, we step away from our previous few topics and come back to a question that we believe is a crucial one for anyone interested in the study of literature in schools: how does meaning arise?

Not an easy question to answer, but in the light of recent curriculum reform in English, debates about styles and methods of teaching, and even about what kinds of texts ought to be read (see for example the recent debate about YA fiction) we think it’s a topic well worth considering!

In addition, “her wardrobe,” “a tiny dressing table,” and “a tall window” all provide specific details of the objects in the room.

These act as triggers for activating background knowledge to build the fictional world.

Not only do his writings move across and between varied repertoires, he is committed to analysing music that bridges or sits uncomfortably on the boundary between classical and popular.

Here his writings on light music and easy listening are particularly illuminating.The first clear theme to emerge from these collections is the movement across the categories of popular/classical – a refusal of the binary divide whereby, as Simon Frith once noted, classical music (or the selective element of it taken to be ‘serious’ music) was and often still is considered important because it is perceived to transcend social forces, whereas popular music was and is dismissed as of little value because it is deemed to be determined by social forces.Scott’s work refutes this ideological schism and the accompanying assumption that absolute music is formally complex and structurally profound, whereas popular music is characterised by its superficial surface, its meanings obvious and trite.The reader will typically construct a text-world that is situated in the past and contains a character “little girl,” located in a specific space (“in her own bed”) in a larger context, the “vast country house”.The phrases “to her right” and “on her left,” also position the reader to assume a similar vantage point to the girl at the centre of the narrative.We believe that notions of authority, interpretation and knowledge are important, as is the question of just how teachers introduce literature in ways that are engaging, draw on and legitimise young readers’ schematic knowledge, and encourage an aesthetic literary experience.We’re also interested in how teaching approaches should best introduce additional contextual information, and what might happen if the dominant approach to reading in the classroom is transmissive and teacher-led.In other words, students were engaged in literary criticism and metacognition.We’d be interested in your thoughts on these ideas.The collection of his essays provides illuminating illustrations of this style, and the essays in his honour provide a critical engagement with his work that extends and elaborates on many of the themes that he has addressed in varied studies.As Scott’s work is probably familiar to many readers, and as there is not the space, and it would perhaps be tedious to go through the entire repertoire of each book, I shall use this space to map out the key recurrent themes in Scott’s research – themes that are never explored in a detached and abstract theoretical manner but always in an engaged and engaging, substantially researched style with fine attention to astutely chosen and fascinating illustrative details.


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