Interpreting and discussing literary texts : A study on literary group discussions

University essay from Växjö universitet/Institutionen för humaniora

Abstract: Reading and understanding literature does not necessarily have to be an individual act. The aim of this essay is to investigate what happens when six students read a text by Kazuo Ishiguro A Family Supper and then discuss it in a communicative situation. The essay bases its ideas on the sociocultural theory and the reader-response theory. The sociocultural perspective argues that people develop and progress during social interaction, moreover by communicating with other people and by being inspired and subsequently educated through taking part in different social contexts. My idea with this essay is to observe a literary discussion in a group. The observation emphasizes both the individual contribution to the literary discussion and the function of the group. By analyzing the participation of the individual students, I reached the conclusion that the students deal with literature in many different ways. Some focus only on the text and the plot, others discuss social issues in connection to the text and some only respond to the others’ arguments. When studying the group, I looked at the balance in the group, the turn taking between the members and the level of participation. The reader-response theory bases its idea on the reader and the text and the fact that they are connected in a mutual transaction. Every reader brings his or her experiences to the understanding of the text and thereby a text can have multiple alternative interpretations considering the amount of readers. The analysis section in this essay consists of several parts, such as an individual reflection, a group discussion and an individual evaluation.

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