OVERVIEW: Last week, I asked you to read and respond to Louise Rosenblatt and Frank Smith and consider what they have to tell us about what we do when we read, how we do it, how it shapes us, what the ideal conditions are for reading. Rosenblatt was a teacher and cared about reading as a teacher of reading. Smith was a linguist and. cared about reading from a physiological perspective.
This week, we wrap up our reading of reading theory with Wolfgang Iser. I know that Iser is not an easy read. Iser is writing at the height of postmodernism--the early 1980s--at a moment in literary criticism when folks were very engaged in Big Theory. His writing deeply reflects that. He writes about reading as someone who cares about defining and evaluating literature--capital L for sure.
To be clear, I am not interested in defining and evaluating literature and that's not why I'm asking you to read Iser. Rather, I think that the value of Iser is that he helps me, as a teacher of literacy, explain to myself why it's important for me to challenge my students as readers--to bring difficult texts into the classroom that my students might struggle with.
FOR TODAY'S POST: Explain me to me. In other words, as you summarize and analyze the Iser selection, please connect with what I'm saying about the value of difficult texts in the classroom. Using Iser's terminology and argument, identify what a "difficult text" would look like for a reader. What makes it difficult? What is the job of the reader when they approach a difficult text? And why is this a good thing?
KEEP IN MIND: There is definite overlap between Smith and Iser in particular. Make that connection in your post.
FINALLY: Remember how I tell my first year students that if they are confused by parts of the text they should feel free to ask those questions, to talk about that confusion? You are allowed to do that to and, in fact, I encourage you to do that.
IN RESPONSE TO ONE OR MORE OF YOUR COLLEAGUES: Help your classmates out by offering your ideas about what they don't understand. Additionally, if you think someone missed the point of something, add that to their response. If you can connect ideas in Iser to ideas in either Smith or Rosenblatt--particularly if those connections help to clarify ideas in Iser.