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Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents
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Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  136 ratings  ·  17 reviews
This book challenges current paradigms of literature instruction by making a case for teaching critical theory in high school literature classrooms. It argues for the importance of multiple critical perspectives and urges teachers to expand their theoretical repertoires.Teachers will find actual lessons and strategies for teaching a variety of contemporary literary theorie...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published August 28th 2000 by Teachers College Press (first published August 2000)
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In this text, Appleman shows how teachers should use literary theory as critical lenses to help students understand the ideologies inherent in texts (p. 3) and use skills of reading and writing to come learn about the world (p. 2). When students read, there are multiple contexts at play, and she provides theoretical grounding and examples of various lenses for teachers: reader response, privilege and social class, gender, post colonialism, and deconstruction. Students bring their own contexts to...more
StephanieAnne Smith
Critical Encounters is a great resource for high school English teachers. Deborah Appleman provides an excellent defense for why literary theory should be taught as well as concise pedagogical instruction for its implementation. One hiccup with the book is Appleman's choice to rename the Marxist and Feminist lenses as Social Class and Gender for controversial reasons. I also disagree that Deconstructionism is too difficult for the secondary classroom. For me, these points were inconsistent with...more
A provokative discussion about how to teach literature. By offering literature throughout the various theoretical lenses, students can begin to see how they interpret messages found within texts - not just literature, but all the texts in their world -- and how others might interpret those messages. For English teachers who aren't reading teachers or literature majors (Comp/Rhet majors perhaps?), Appleman offers a way into teaching literature. The appendix includes the numerous activity plans an...more
I found the book useful in that it provided a lot of specific information about HOW to use critical lenses in the classroom, including the texts that lend themselves to particular lenses and the types of questions one would ask. I do already uses critical lenses in how I interpret texts with students, but I now see some of the advantages of doing so more explicitly. Since I was already familiar with all the lenses the book treated in depth (reader-response, Marxist/social-class, feminist/gender,...more
Hands down one of the best teaching books I own. This book strikes a perfect balance between offering the theory behind, well, teaching theory and practical lessons that are easy to use straight out of the book or adapt. There are 34 classroom activities/handouts included in the appendix as well as extensive discussion about how real teachers have used these lessons in their classroom contexts. It is impeccably organized. If you're a secondary humanities teacher who wants to get your students th...more
I am definitely using this book as a guide for making lesson plans during my first year of teaching. Many insightful and step-by-step instructions on how to implement the lesson ideas into your classroom, logistically.
Gloriously useful. Complete with ready-to-use lessons and handouts to get kids thinking critically about literature — literally. Includes chapters devoted to Marxist, feminist, reader-response (aptly titled "The Promise and Peril of Reader Response), and decontructionist criticism, each with vignettes about how these approaches worked in actual classrooms.

Also awesome is Appleman's impassioned defense of the act of teaching literary theory to adolescents — especially the closing chapter on the...more
Michele Tota
This was a book from my college days, I picked up the other day to get some new ideas for teaching literature to my students. Appleman does an excellent job of analyziing each "lens" or perspective and giving samples of student work. I'm hoping to use some of her ideas while my students read "To Kill a Mockingbird".
For the poiltical and social buffs in all of us, there is an in-depth chapter dedicated to the Marxist theory/approach to literature.
Really a fantastic introduction to using literary criticism in secondary English classes. I particularly liked the structure of each chapter; not only was an explanation of each school of thought given, but practical, specific examples of lessons were provided as well. I originally borrowed this through inter-library loan but liked it so much that I bought my own copy.
This book has already impacted my teaching this year. I like her high expectations for students and how solidly grounded this book is in theory and research. While I may not be finding my Literary Theory course very exciting, I am really moved by some of the theorists. Appleman makes it all seem accessible and relevant.
Aug 29, 2011 Megan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edci-466
Why it's important to teach theory in high school English. An overview of major literary theories, such as Reader Response, multiple perspectives, Marxist, feminist, etc.
Approaches to teaching middle and high school reading. Encompasses reading strategies and literary criticism.
This might change my teaching forever. Why did it take me 20 years to find it???
Jacquie Bryant
good book but it will take a lot of effort to introduce this. i'm not ready for it yet.
Useful guide to students.
Bill Hamilton
Haven't read it.
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