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Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents by Deborah Appleman
Transcript of Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents by Deborah Appleman
necessary, questioning of ideologies present in what we read. Ideologies shape our world in many ways. Including
being present in Literature. Theory provides students with critical lenses to use
when looking into the text. A practice that has blossomed at the collegiate level
but remains largely absent in High Schools "The purpose of teaching literary theory at the secondary level is not to turn Adolescents into critical theorists; rather, it is to encourage adolescents to inhabit theories comfortably enough to construct their own readings and learn to appreciate the power of multiple perspectives. Literary theory can help secondary literature classrooms become sites of constructive and transactive activity, where students approach texts with curiosity, authority, and initiative" (7) Reader Response Multiple perspectives are the key! The Pros The Cons The How Makes reading more a more personal experience Marxist Literary Theory Gender Criticism Postcolonialism Deconstruction Lenses and Learning Styles A break from more traditional New Critical approaches Allows for more than one interpretation of a text Creates the potential to use more texts in the classroom Easily devolves into "this text reminds me of..." Can lead to "This doesn't relate to me" attitudes Some students can be reluctant to respond Responding personally does not always equate to understanding Be explicit! Don't just say "respond to the text" Know that some students won't relate, even if their background suggests they might Use it as one of a variety of approaches! The Issue Marxism has a certain connotation in American society that not all students, parents, or even principals may respond to positively Appleman notes that one can refer to this approach as the "social class lens" if the need arises Why We Need It The growing literary canon The changing nature of students Necessary element in students understanding of texts, themselves, their peers, and their world. Though most generally think of Feminism and feminist literary theory, Gender criticism is a more general term that also allows forays into studies of masculinity, as well as gay and lesbian studies But why teach it? Many students fail to realize the ways societal conceptions of gender influences their thinking "Gender" is more palpable for some than "Feminist" Aids in evaluation of Characters
Aids in evaluation of author
Aids in study of whole texts
Aids in understanding examining the world around us Like all approaches, the purpose is to encourage students to look at not only texts, but the world in a different way Students are required to examine traditional western values, or how their own tradition relates to those values Must avoid a "Universalist" approach to texts Must not turn subjects into objects Deconstruction is the most abstract and difficult to define of the approaches discussed. It is a branch of criticism that many teachers, much less students, can struggle with not only because of its alienating language, but because of the negative and destructive connotation of "deconstruction" Important in allowing students to interpret a postmodern world. Aids in the understanding that all things are in a sense "text" not just books. This approach can be unsettling for some though, because of the ways in which it expands certain beliefs and systems to the point of transparency. Despite this, it is useful in aiding students in understanding the uncertainty of meaning without being dependent on reader response. Literary Theory is not just for AP/College bound students! Literary Theory could potentially be introduced in some form as early as 6th or 7th grade. Again, it's not just about understanding literature,
it's about using a study of literature to help us better understand ourselves and the world
around us, something that
all students can benefit from Appleman, Deborah. (2009). Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents. New York: TeacherS College Press. Works Cited