Literature As Exploration

Literature as Exploration

Louise M Rosenblatt

1965 Reprint 1995


Schools and Colleges are there to teach students about themselves and humankind. As students, we try to understand the psychology of the characters we read about. We try to figure out their motivations—conscious and unconscious.

The student needs to retrain his or her spontaneity and yet develop further to make each literary reading their own experience. Students bring personal experiences to literature.

The present day youth must often mediate between the conventional idea of life roles and the unprecedented circumstances of contemplating life.  In addition to prevailing an understanding of what is read, rigid attitudes may seriously impair the reader’s judgement even of what s/he has understood.  Sufficient flexibility is needed to free oneself from the stock perspective when it prevents a response more appropriate to the situation.

Present day Psychology is divesting a great deal of attention to attempting to discover significant forces that contribute to molding the personality.  Anthropology has contributed another broader framework to place Psychology within. Anthropology shows us how closely personality and behavior are related to the whole framework of culture.

The more conscious the individual is of the nature of the cultural forces with which he is transacting, the more intelligently can s/he modify their power and direction.  Prolonged contact with literature may result in increased social sensitivity.  Someone one said, “The fool learns only through experience. The wise man anticipates experience.  Literary experiences may at least militate against the growth of neurotic tendencies.  Frequently literature is the means by which the youth discovers that his inner life reflects a common experience of others in his or her society.

The dominion of others might be sought, not through physical violence, but rather through the possession of superior knowledge and even the ability to help others, as through the knowledge of medicine.

Teachers and students need to challenge themselves to push the limits of their vocabulary and read all kinds of literature—old and new.  However, those teachers who try to crowd everything the students “ought” to learn into only their school years assumes that their students will never read anything again once they get out of school.  People who read for themselves will come to read the classics at some point—a point where that book is of particular importance to them.

The will to learn has been said, rests on a state of dissatisfaction with present knowledge.  The interchange of ideas in class discussions can lead the student to dissatisfaction with his or her present knowledge about human relations, since the lack of information limits his ability to either participate in the experience offered by the book or to fit the experience into some relational structure of ideas.  The reading of literature, therefore, might be made ad means of arousing the will to learn. Literature offers not merely information, but experience.

Literature is not a photographic mirroring of life, but the result of a particular socially patterned personality employing a particular socially fostered mode of communication. Much of what is considered purely literary criticism involves definitions of the special temperamental attitudes of the author, the precise emotional tone of his work, and its particular philosophical approach. All this is essential to appreciate the literary merits of an author’s work.

The Literary Experience has been shown to reside in the synthesis of what the reader already knows and feels and desires with what the literary text offers—the patterned verbal signs through which the author has sought to communicate sensations, emotions and ideas, the sense of life.







About carilynn27

Reading and writing and writing about reading are my passion. I've been keeping a journal since I was 14. I also write fiction and poetry. I published my first collection of short stories, "Radiant Darkness" in 2000. I followed that up with my first collection of poetry in 2001 called "Journey without a Map." In 2008, I published "Persephone's Echo" another collection of poetry. Since then I've also published Emotional Espionage, The Way The Story Ended, My Perfect Drug and Out There. I have my BA in English from The Ohio State University at Mansfield and my MA in English Lit from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I also have my Post BA Certificate in Women's Studies. I am the mother of two beautiful children. :-)
This entry was posted in Literary Criticism, Literature/Pop Culture and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.