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Reading Practices

Reading strategies (reading practices, ways of reading) are ways readers make meaning of texts be they written, visual or both. Often a reading strategy will involve paying attention to the context of the creator of the text, the language of the text, its generic conventions and/or the context of the "reader" (that is, we 'read' visual language). When a reader focuses on the representation of gender, class, race/ethnicity, cultural identity or other representations or combinations of these representations, then the reader is employing a reading strategy.

The following are ways of reading any text.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to the use of language, for example, choices of words, use of literal/figurative language, creation of images, sentence structure, tone, style, language techniques.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to generic conventions, for example, how the text is typical/atypical of a particular genre or form, for example, how it conforms or doesn’t conform to a specific form (e.g. ode, short story, absurdist drama) within a broad genre of poetry, prose or drama. Discuss techniques used that are typical of the form.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to the historical context in which it was written, the time and place in which it was written, the values of that society or culture at that time.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to the historical context in which it is being read now, the time and place in which it is being read now, the values of this contemporary society or culture.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to comparing/contrasting how the historical /cultural contexts affect the way the text was read when it was written and how the text is being read now.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to representations of class within the text or implied by the text, for example, whether “society” is represented as being divided into classes and whether one class is deemed to have power over another.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to representations of race/ethnicity, for example, what the text is suggesting or implying about particular abstract ideas about race or ethnic groups.
Create a post-colonial reading of this text.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to representations of gender, for example, of “male” or “female” or “feminine” or “masculine”.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to representations of culture, cultural identity or nationality, for example, of groups of people, for example, “Australians” or “immigrants” or “country people” or “bikies” or “emos”.
Does the text, through such representations, ‘naturalise’ aspects of culture?

A reading practice that pays particular attention to representations of religion or religious groups, for example, “fundamentalists” or “Christianity” or “hotgospellers” or “pantheism”.
Discuss the pervading ideology of the text: is it pro-religion, pro-secularism, pro-freedom of choice?

A reading practice that pays particular attention to representations of “the other” or “the marginalised”, for example, of minority groups within society, for example, of the disabled, of the ill, of the unemployed, of the itinerant, of the disempowered, of the old.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to representations of any number of abstracts like “love” or “responsibility” or “morality” or “the rights of the individual” or “power”.
Discuss the moral, ethical or philosophical ideas represented in the text.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to representations of any number of groups, for example, “teenagers”, “labourers”, “children”, “students”, “shoppers”, “capitalists”.
What groups are ‘represented’ in this text? In what ways? Why? What values and attitudes are at work, are being challenged?

A reading practice that pays particular attention to the author, the author’s context, the author’s biography, the author’s values, attitudes and beliefs, the author’s ouevre.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to the intertextual links that one can observe with other texts. Such links might work in relation to theme, style, technique, generic convention, genre, reading practice employed, ideology, context.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to the reader, to your response as a reader, to your context, to the values and attitudes, beliefs and ideologies that you bring to the text, to your reading practices.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to the aesthetic qualities of the text as opposed to the ideological qualities, the form as opposed to the content, the expression as opposed to the ideas, the beauty (or otherwise) of the technique as opposed to the theme.
What is ‘beautiful’ (in literature)? Who decides? How do we decide?

A reading practice that is based on a feminist reading, a Marxist reading, New Criticism, a moral humanist reading , a reading according to Queer Theory, a Lacanian reading, a psychoanalytical reading, a ‘human nature’ v ‘cultural studies’ reading.

A reading practice based on how a text is typical/atypical of texts belonging to a particular period or style of literature, for example, a ‘Romantic’ text, a ‘metaphysical’ text, an ‘existentialist’ text, Augustan, Renaissance, Victorian, ‘Dickensian’, a post-modern text, a neo-classical text, magic realism.

A reading practice that pays attention to ideologies relating to ecology or conservation, to representations of the landscape and cultures’ relationships with the landscape, to images of the urban and industrial or the rural, regional or pastoral.

A reading practice that pays particular attention to any combination of the above reading practices.

 

 

Questions:

 


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