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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

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  274 ratings  ·  26 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 ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published August 28th 2000 by Teachers College Press (first published August 2000)
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Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pub-research
I'll give props to anyone willing to challenge high schoolers with literary theory. Appleman is encouraging and accessible in this text. She provides many examples of ways teachers could use activities in her classroom and tells them they should adapt them for their own purposes. My only qualm is that she seems to hold her students' hands quite a bit with how she structures and I wonder how it would go if there was more student choice.
StephanieAnne Smith
Sep 23, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A key resource for getting students to think more deeply about any given text, as well as other world perspectives.
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: professional
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 ...more
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teacher-books
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
Michele Tota
Nov 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
This not only gave you a great breakdown of different literary theories, but also examples of HOW to apply them in the classroom. Also, it is written in a tangible way; it doesn't have the high-brow professor-type jargon that no one understands. It is easy to read and understand, unlike so many education texts.
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Cyndi Lu
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pedagogy, teaching
This book is a great way to introduction for teaching literary criticism to high school students. It's main crux is that teaching literary criticism is another way of teaching critical thinking; therefore, it is important for all students. Very interesting strategies given as well.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Bill Hamilton
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Haven't read it.
Corey Wozniak
Dec 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Skim-speed-read. Will use this to teach a literary criticism unit to 10th graders. The appendix is really what makes this book useful.
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great, great, great. Answer to my nerdy prayers, with a large appendix of sample activities and worksheets.
Jacquie Bryant
Feb 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: rhetoric
good book but it will take a lot of effort to introduce this. i'm not ready for it yet.
Feb 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Useful guide to students.
Jesse Field
Sep 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Mildly interesting but one of my colleagues discovered that it's more a book about extremely nervous teachers.
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great understanding of literary theory and gives diverse examples for discussion.
Dec 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
Icky, icky
Trevor Gardner
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the most helpful sources I have used in a long time. This book helped me frame much of my 8-week unit on literary theory in my 12th Grade World Literature course.
Mar 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Approaches to teaching middle and high school reading. Encompasses reading strategies and literary criticism.
Haley Laidlaw
rated it really liked it
Dec 06, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Jul 24, 2008
Jessica Langhammer
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Jun 17, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Aug 25, 2008
Judy Jones
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Jan 18, 2016
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