How Literature Works: Poetry and the Phenomenology of Reader Response

Patrick G. Howard


Reader response literary theory dominates the study of literature in the K -12 school curriculum. Because this theory reflects the student - centered, constructivist orientation currently driving curriculum development, reader response literary theory is central to guiding the literary experiences of children in schools. Student readers creatively engage in a transaction with a text driven by their personal purposes and experiences that leads to the construction of new, alternative voices and perspectives. This study employs hermeneutic phenomenology to inquire into the experiencing of the transactive space of literary engagement to understand more fully how the transaction is lived and felt. Phenomenology can allow a better understanding of the lived, embodied experiencing in the transactive space created between reader and text and provide a fresh and meaningful account of how literature "works."

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ISSN: 1913-4711