AR about literature and interpretation

Hello everyone
My name is Casper and I am a teacher from Denmark who is researching how students like to work with literature in classrooms, more specifically the interpretation and analysis of literature. If anyone has good or bad experiences in working with reader response critism or just general literary analysis in school, your input would be worth a lot to me ????
Thank you in advance ????

Hi Casper, welcome. My question in response is how can interpretation and analysis of literature serve the students’ needs beyond solely or primarily getting deeper insight into the literature as something separate from their own concerns. There is a movement now in philosophy to go beyond just developing insight into theory and instead to begin to have it live out its usefulness/meaningfulness in our lives. In a way Nietzsche was the first to push this (his dissertation both a masterpiece and a scandal because this is not how “real/proper” philosophy should be!). So coming back to working with literature students – I would welcome learning about your experiments in asking the students how the literature speaks to their experience first and foremost and from there advancing through the already well known ways/schools in which lit crit is practiced but keeping a keen eye on coming back again to experience and experimentation – as in, now we know that, so what?In a sense I am simply reminding us here of how action research and action learning overlap in putting experience first…hoping others may have much to share too. Best wishes! Hilary Bradbury

Thank you very much Hilary. I am actually also looking into how litterature can be useful to my students in other ways than merely achieving academic merits and literary competencies. So far I have a hypothesis about the development of empathy and self-awareness through use of contemporary litterature that revolves around themes which my students can relate to, (For example broken families, alcoholism etc.) If I can find a way to work with my students towards a higher understanding of litterature and through this develop their social consciousness, I would definately define that as usefulness – Casper

I would too! There was a study that was released in the USA last year that clarified that reading literature – when compared with watching a movie about the same literature – helped improve people’s capacity for empathy. Ditto there is a fairly well known family/couple’s therapy intervention that has the participants look at movies (maybe they should read novels in light of the former studies ???? and then discuss the topics with their loved ones. Turns out it helps a lot (i.e., statistically significant). (Sorry I don’t have citations at the ready, I am sure that Dr. Google will be better at that). It seems to me that your study is in a line of distinguished studies on this very topic. What I like here also is the possibility of a complementary approach that brings an AR orientation to a study, that in the hands of positivist colleagues would be less concerned with usefulness to the participants themselves…Looking forward to hearing good things! Best wishes to you and your students… Hilary Bradbury

My main focus is actually the participants and their gain from this process, and by the looks of it, AR is working in getting them to verbally express their thoughts, – elements that are very usefull to me. I am sorry to ask arbitrary questions to an expert, but as I am still clarifying AR and learning about it, what would you describe as primary limitations (if any exist) to Action research?
Best Regards, Casper

Some (and to my surprise there are some!!) suggest that the way action researchers deal with “objectivity” is problematic. But we have a very good reason for integrating subjectivity (and intersubjectivity) that seems like the only intelligent way to act as a co-researcher. After all we must realize how partial all forms of objectivity really are. Of course some people insist in living in a more Newtonian (fixed, mechanistic) world – but yes, we must deal with the sub atomic swirl that is reality and the Heisenberg insight that measurement informs activity. In truth though, I am probably not the best person to ask about the downsides of action research. I pretty much spend my life writing, teaching, editing and consulting in the domain of action research. Some may say I am a little biased (and I’d say, ahem I try to be aware of my biases ;). And more sophisticated critique may be aimed at our apparent de-politicized way of dealing with conflict. We seek ways of working inclusively, some might say (I would not) uncritically. But it’s for others to say rather than for me to say for them. Let me suggest you take a look (again) and the journal of action research (the blog is on this site) and see there the best examples of international action research (maybe I am biased about that too!). Then the Handbooks of Action Research are a reader friendly way into the many facets…Finally I don’t know that anyone has dedicated themselves to criticizing action research (yet!), so maybe it is best if you decide for yourself… Hilary Bradbury

Thanks H. It was not easy finding relevant critisism of AR, which I actually did’nt mind all that much ???? I am boldly continuing my quest into the proces. Currently I am researching the best way of analyzing empirical material which I generated through triangulation (Using observation, oral class discussion and written reflection papers) How would you recommend I go about analyzing this material? Happy Easter by the way ???? -Casper

I’d bring the students into the process of analysis – so it becomes a ‘co-analysis’ that guides coordinated action to be decided upon together. The analysis itself would follow best practices of qualitative research and action research. The intersection between qualitative methods and the action orientation is one that more and more are working with. You’ll find materials on qualitative research elsewhere. I think the easiest way to keep an eye on the quality of your action research orientation is to use the “7quality choicepoints for action research” useful for designing, shaping, and reviewing action research in many contexts. Here is a link to what many find a useful overview: Good luck, Hilary Bradbury

Thank you for all the great advice! I am now contemplating the ethics concerning good action research, but I need an expert source in locating the most important ethic rules concerning my participants. I am of course trying to keep the anonymous and informed, but are there any other ethic rules that must be followed? – Casper

Have a look at Action Research journal. I think a leading author on all matters ethics is Mary Brydon-Miller. – Hilary Bradbury