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Research conceptions of adult and college reader response to literature

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Title: Research conceptions of adult and college reader response to literature
Author: Eberdt, Karen
Degree Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
Program Language and Literacy Education
Copyright Date: 1990
Subject Keywords Reader-response criticism; Literature--Study and teaching (Higher); College students--Books and reading.
Abstract: "Response to literature" is an educational notion which generally refers to an oral or written reaction to a non-expository published work such as a short story or poem. This historical analysis investigates conceptions of response to literature in research with adults and college students. The dissertation problem derives from an apparent shift in emphasis from the text towards the reader in research on response to literature (Purves, 1985). The underlying assumption of this suggestion is that there are historically predominant research conceptions. This dissertation documents these ideas with adult and college readers' responses to literature. The procedure was first to establish foundation conceptions of "response" and "literature" from theoretical considerations of these terms. Next, studies derived from major bibliographies were examined in order to determine the general emphasis based on the research purpose, literary work, and response task. Predominant research conceptions of both "response" and "literature" were delineated by decades, from the first cited study in 1912. Results of the analysis concerned conceptions of both "literature" and "response". First, research conceptions of "literature" generally focused on print, rather than oral performance. In addition, there was a general research move from the use of meaningless syllables and fragments of poetry (1910-39); through the use of a diversity of genres such as newspaper articles, comprehension test items, and novels (1940-69); to a contemporary focus on short stories and poems (1970-89). Second, research conceptions of "response" supported the suggestion of a general shift from conceptions which focused on textual elements such as rhythm, sounds of language and literary merit (1920-39); through those which focused on aspects of the reader such as personality changes, preferences and developmental differences (1940-69) ; to those which emphasized elements of response itself such as process, stance, and context (1970-89). Possible reasons for the shifts in emphasis were explored in relation to general societal conditions and the changing image of the college student. From an educational perspective, the observed changes suggest a move towards empowerment of the learner in the classroom. This trend corresponds to the increasing pedagogical emphasis on holism and collaboration
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/32275
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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