Thursday, February 25, 2010

Reader Types in one Reader Response Theory

Six different types of reader (Associative, Investigative, Speculative, Affective, Cognitive and Passive) were apparent from my data, and it appears that an optimal match or fit occurs between specific readers and certain texts. Certain readers were compatible with some texts and not others. The types of reader or identity style indicate the satisfactions a reader may seek from the reading event. In my longitudinal study the readers operated predominantly on one of the six styles consistently. Certain combinations of text and reader exhibited a ‘best-fit’. Where such compatibility exists, the reader is enriched by the encounter and the text is no longer the same text as it was when created by the author; it becomes infused with the life and experience of the reader. Both reader and text change in the process.

The Associative Reader: This reader enjoys a text if it is relevant to their own experience. This reader sees her task being the connection of their past experience with that of the poem. In journal entries of the associative reader the text seems to function prolifically as a ‘stimulus’, the text reminding them of one experience after another. Personal memories are evoked by the text. If the text has a message to communicate which the reader feels to be relevant to the reader’s life, a positive reaction is likely. This reader who associates a text with her own experience rarely finds comprehension a problem. This reader rarely comments on style in initial encounters with the text, because meaning is seen to be of prime importance. In some
respects this reader is similar to the cognitive reader, but an important difference is that the cognitive reader often focuses on social rather than personal significance in the text.

The Investigative Reader: This reader is similar to the speculative reader but differs in certain important respects. Like all good detectives the investigative reader likes to find a solution. This reader generates a number of tentative hypotheses about the meaning of a text, but this reader is not as relaxed as the speculative reader, as he wants to find a solution and bring the text to definite closure. The investigative reader often believes in the existence of one fine, fixed and definite interpretation. Nailing down the author’s views and message is often important. The investigative reader desires coherence in a text and attempts to fit the different parts of the text into a unifying whole. If some parts of the text cannot be reconciled with others, the reading experience becomes less enjoyable and can be frustrating. The investigative reader needs a sufficient degree of indeterminacy (to use Iser’s term) to be fulfilled. A negative reaction arises from too much indeterminacy, where a text ‘can mean anything’ (like ‘The Sick Rose’ by William Blake), or too little indeterminacy, where a single correct meaning is obvious.

The Speculative Reader: The speculative reader is able to adopt a detached viewpoint and set up a range of propositions or hypotheses which can be quickly and easily disregarded in favour of more plausible interpretations. This reader is philosophical and has an outlook that is characterized by more depth than most of the others – she thinks deeply about things. She easily engages in metacognition and rather introspective reflections about her own reflections. The speculative reader enjoys ambiguity and may enjoy obscure and impenetrable works. This reader tolerates confusion, ambiguity and incomprehension. The speculative reader is ‘laid back’ and is unperturbed by texts which do not easily yield up their meanings. The text’s resistance to closure simply increases this reader’s pleasure, and simple or straightforward literary texts are disliked. This reader dislikes texts that are too didactic or simplistic. The speculative reader focuses on meaning rather than form or literary techniques. This reader enjoys profound works that provoke her to consider the nature of the human condition. The focus in journal entries is on blueprint, not stimulus. Only after a text has been interpreted to some degree does this reader make connections between their own life experience and the text.

The Affective Reader: The affective reader judges a poem predominantly on its affective impact. Both in life and in reading this reader focuses on emotions. Feelings and moods are often referred to in journal entries. Any mood is better than no mood at all for this reader. This should not be confused with a text that is about an emotional experience – rather the experience, mood or feeling needs to be generated in this reader for the text to be appreciated. The affective reader believes that a text has been created as a result of an emotional experience on the part of the poet and feels that it should be apprehended through feeling. Understanding the meaning of a text seems to be important as it is a prerequisite for a mood to be evoked. Theme and subject are more important than form, and, as with the speculative reader, texts of profound significance to the human experience are appreciated especially if they make the reader ‘feel’.

The Cognitive Reader: This reader is more detached and less emotionally involved than the affective reader. More than the associative reader this reader enjoys the cognitive challenge of active reading and appreciates texts which require some effort to understand, revelling in the process of constructing meaning rather like the speculative or investigative reader. Like them, this reader tends to focus on content and meaning. The cognitive reader enjoys thinking and takes pride in the ability to use logic, imagination and lateral thinking. The desire for intellectual stimulation results in obvious and immediate poems being disliked. The cognitive reader may be more socially aware than the associative reader, and works are appreciated if they inform issues which have social relevance. A thoughtful, analytical reaction rather than an emotional response tends to be produced. The cognitive reader enjoys the mental process of interpreting poems but appreciates it if the message of the poem has social significance.

The Passive Reader: This reader fails to engage in the active construction of meaning, has a negative attitude to literary reading, and cannot tolerate ambiguity – prefers prose and non-fiction.

The above is from an online version of a lecture
by Mark A. Pike, Ph.D
For anyone following this blog: Ultimately my interpretation of bibliotherapy is that it's what happens when you apply reader-response criticism to any work of fiction/non-fiction, regardless of media or age group. Below are some ideas related to teaching and related applications of bibliotherapy.
Enhancing Response to Literature through Character Analysis. Argues that traditional textbook approaches to teaching literature alienate students from literature. Describes effective alternatives in which students learn interpretive strategies as they analyze and discuss their own important values in life, and then those of characters in a story; and learn to deal with irony. Outlines writing activities that reinforce interpretive strategies and analytical skills students have developed. Proposes that instruction targeted at conceptual change should be designed to consider cognitive development and capitalize on what is known about social development. Discusses: (1) asking students to "step into" and explore the world of the text; and (2) helping students "step out" of the world of the text to consider it analytically. Includes providing opportunities to (1) improvise, (2) examine specific speeches in depth, and (3) speed write about a character's thoughts. ctively in class for reader response. On Day 1, after students read the novel, the instructor re-read selected passages aloud and asked students to record their responses; on Day 2 students met in small groups, shared their writing, and selected two common images to use as a book cover; on Day 3 students sketched their covers on the board and discussed why they chose these particular images and what they signified. Each group discussed their cover and identified connections between their images and what they perceived as messages in the text. This exercise shows students that they can begin to analyze and interpret a literary work independent of the teacher or commentaries by a literary critic. Suggests that where children are given the power to make meaning for themselves, they are more likely to learn to read critically than those who are not. Connecting to Story through the Arts. Provides examples of arts infused literary studies, with each example using art experiences (expressive writing, creative movement, visual arts, exploratory music, and informal drama) to relate to the literature text. Notes that the learning outcome is to involve readers in exploring the meaning of the story as it relates to their own life experiences. Notes that literature responses nurture the transactions between readers and meaningful texts. Noting that children must be provided with the opportunity to read various types of text as early as possible if they are to develop into strategic and self-directed readers, this paper presents research evidence to show that every text type makes unique demands on readers. Story mapping. Learning comes from reading and sharing reading. We learn by "overhearing" our own and others' meaning-making processes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Write Or Die : Dr Wicked's Writing Lab

Using a timer the following took about 15 minutes to Write Or Die : Dr Wicked's Writing Lab
Octavia Butler's Fledgling is not bad. Always looking for new vampire renditions. I like that the vampire is a little girl, who is older than she appears and sexually active. I think this speaks to something we all know intuitively to be true. Little girls have an innate awareness of themselves as sexual beings long before boys and become aware of their power at an early age. Butler makes the simple but often ignored truths core elements of her narrative. Simple facts, no moral or ethical judgment, just the way things are in this alternate world of creatures who feed and form symbiotic relations with their food.

Lots of excitement. Thriller plot line. Could be more earthy. Something sensual in the feeding experience is suggested, but misses the mark. Analogy to wine might bring in a lexicon for why one blood tastes better than another. If it's just a question of chemistry and palate, why? Genetics are mentioned but not in way that brings anything new to the reader, more as a teaser. Our protagonist is an genetic experiment. Use a bit of the lingo, make me believe it's possible. So much of the premise is just background.

Still, readable for undemanding fans of the genre.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman

This is a YA novel by theme, but also a fun read for any adult who has ever walked on the weird side. Portman includes lots of legitimate information and resources on magical traditions both pre and post Crowley. Tarot archetypes give shape to the narrative and even define characters. I'm looking forward to seeing Portman tackle something targeting adults using the same ideas. How about a series watching Adromeda Klein grow up, sail through college and become a librarian. Maybe she could even correspond magically with the great akashic librarian in the aether. Just saying...Adromeda could be our answer to the death of Potter.

Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez

Interesting approach to the vampire tradition, combing feminist themes with settings ranging from the Deep South to the Wild West and all the excitement of untold historical possibilities, were it "her"story, rather than "his."

R. Scott Bakker 's Neuropath

"...precious little distinguished the neurochemical profile of love from that of obsessive-compulsive disorder."
"Everything you live, everything you see and touch and hear and taste, everything you think, belongs to this little slice of mush, this little wedge in your brain called the thalamocortical system. The neural processing that makes these experiences possible__we're talking about the most complicated machinery in the known universe __is uttterly invisible. This expansive, far-reaching experience of yours is nothing more than a mote, an inexplicable glow, hurtling through some impossible black. You're steering through a dream..."
"Consciousness is an end-user... Out of all the information our brains crunch every second, only a tiny sliver makes it conscious experience--less than a millionth, by some estimates."

Aren't you just loving the novel of consciousness trend and the proximity it underlines between real and surreal?

Monday, February 22, 2010

OCD Readers Unite

I'm taking an online course in readers advisory that is work related for librarians. (Nothing like being the kid working in the candy store.) And, I introduced myself and this blog. The instructor commented that she like the concept of OCD readers and I had to reply:

"Believe me, it's more than a conceptual choice. I am quite literally unable to function without reading. The interesting thing I'm finding these days, is it's less book dependent that I once thought. Reading and writing online is satisfying some of the escapist compulsion for distraction. Without getting too metaphysical, I am beginning to think that most of what we do in our lives is invested in distracting ourselves from what is actually required to survive in the world and our nature as humans.

Hmmm, this could turn into a rant. Better save it for my readersanonymous blogging."

Which is what you are reading, if anyone out there is. Either way. The idea will be there later for further development. I welcome any thoughts on the mystical idea of distractions as a necessity for living. And, to get you going you might pick up some Marshall McLuhan. In Understanding Media, chapter 2 titled something about gadgets is what really kicked this home for me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lyda Morehouse mirrors early W.Gibson

Strong cross-gender personalities, whether self-identified as male or female. Interesting bits of info on Muslim back story. Vatican envoy sent to determine if AIs have souls. Yakuza interest and involvement. Angels, Devils, Demons and other everyday miracles.
p.133 Does God have a plan for us all? and how boring would that be?
Fractals & Free will, Order & Chaos
Or is the whole thing just a creative experiment in phenomenology.
A little heavy on the religion references, but informative, nevertheless and Lyda has a strong writing style that drags you along on what is proving to be more than a little archetypal questy.
Fallen Host is the one I just finished. Will go back and read Archangel Protocol to get the back story. I see on amazon she has two more. Lovely.