Critical issues: Limits of identification: The personal, pleasurable, and critical in reader response

Cynthia Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this article, I argue that the most common use of reader-response theory in the classroom is misguided in its emphasis on personal response and identification. After reconsidering the meaning of the "aesthetic stance" as defined in the work of Louise Rosenblatt, I discuss the social and political nature of readers, texts, and contexts. I include two examples of teachers talking about a work of children's literature to illustrate that when a text is about characters whose cultures and life worlds are very different from the reader's, disrupting the reader's inclination to identify with the text can heighten the reader's self consciousness and text consciousness. This stance should not be viewed as less aesthetic than a more direct or immediate relationship between reader and text. Finally, I argue for a broader view of what aesthetic reading can mean, one that addresses the social and political dimensions of texts and invites students to take pleasure in both the personal and the critical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-266
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Literacy Research
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2000

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