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In Search of the Novel
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eight workshops

ten novels
ten novelists
the teachers
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[Teacher-talknovel] #1: Who owns the Novel?

From: Randi K <>
Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2012 15:49:51 -0600

Authorial intent has always been a subject of interest to me, especially
when teaching literature to high school-aged students. They often jump to
"But what did [he or she] mean when she wrote that....? What does it mean?"

The idea of an empirical truth to the text was pretty squarely rejected in
this segment of the workshop series, in fact, a pretty good argument is
made that accepting a meaning actually limits the life of the novel. The
argument is made stronger when one considers that it is not *until *the
reader brings his or experience to the story that it begins to breathe.

Socratic seminars are widely used in my school's AVID (Advancement Via
Individual Determination) classrooms, where first generation college
students who are largely at risk, learn to question one another and to
support their own thinking about a work through textual facts and
supporting evidence. The structure of the Socratic seminar lends necessary
protocol to the process of student-led discussions and questioning, where
students can safely take risks in proffering theory about the significance
of plot or character or simply their own interpretations of a work. To me,
Socratic seminars illustrate the point of this segment of the workshop:
That individual interpretation is valid and should be respected and that we
should encourage readers to bring their experiences to the works,
collectively and individually.

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants
happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do
other creatures.
Dalai Lama*

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Received on Mon Mar 05 2012 - 14:04:55 EST

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