Approaches to Reading Text with Examples from Jane Austen's Emma

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This paper presents the two of the four main reading approaches to

reading a text. In this paper, Jane Austen’s novel Emma will be used

to demonstrate these approaches; providing a detailed description into

both reading practice, including reader-centred and author-centred. As

it is now widely acknowledged that no text is neutral, these practices

are one way of conceptualising changes in the theories and practices

of literary study that have occurred during the twentieth century.

Each approach is characterised by particular assumptions and values

and therefore places greater or lesser emphasis on the interactions

that occur between both the author and the reader as we read. To

justify these approaches, I have also used defenses.

Reader-Centred Approach

Since its release in the early years of the nineteenth century, the

novel Emma has never ceased to impress and intrigue. While being

criticised for its lack of action and development, the novel, I found,

provides the reader with a remarkably accurate and surprisingly

hilarious portrayal of life in the upper middle class during the

Victorian period. With the ability to one minute have me ready to pull

out my hair and the next be in hysterics as Jane Austen repeatedly

pokes fun at the characters and their unanticipated antics and

imperfections, this book is a work of art. Events are miscalculated,

actions are misinterpreted and emotions are toiled with, but as with

many of Jane’s novels, a neatly tied (even teary) ending is produced

and all that should live happily ever after do. In the end, what I had

presumed to be both dull and strenuous turned out quite the opposite,

and my immense appreciation for the novel, as you will no-doubt

discover, clearly dem...

... middle of paper ...

... glossary.

Chalkface Press: Cottesloe, Western Australia.

* Queensland Studies Authority, (QSA). (2002). English Extension:

Reading Approaches, QSA, Queensland.

* Ricoeur, Paul (1991). From Text to Action, Essays in hermeneutics

2. Kathleen Blamey and John B Thompson, trans. Northwestern

University Press: Evanston, Illinois.

* Robina State High School-Senior English Extension (Literature).

(draft syllabus, 5.3.2).

* Rosenblatt, Louise (1968). Literature as Exploration, revised

edition. Nobel and Nobel: New York.

* Thomson, J. (1992). Reconstructing Literature Teaching. Australian

Association for the Teaching of English.


* (1) Fitzgerald, C.

* (2) Jalic, L, 2000-2004.

* (3) Wilber, A.

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