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Critical Encounters in Secondary English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents (Language & Literacy Series)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  359 ratings  ·  40 reviews

Because of the emphasis placed on nonfiction and informational texts by the Common Core State Standards, literature teachers all over the country are re-evaluating their curriculum and looking for thoughtful ways to incorporate nonfiction into their courses. They are also rethinking their pedagogy as they consider ways to approach texts that are outside the usual fare of s

Kindle Edition, Third Edition, 272 pages
Published January 30th 2015 by Teachers College Press (first published August 2000)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  359 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Stephanie Anne Johnson
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
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it

I had to read this for class...but I really enjoyed it! I used some of the quotes in the classroom when students ask the question, "Why are we learning this? What's the point?". Great resource!
Brandey Gillenwater
Sep 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found it very helpful. I like the included activities and the different perspectives the author has on lessons.
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching
Also, an excellent resource for my preservice teachers; using it in Methods to help students understand the importance of literary theory in lesson and unit planning.
Corey Wozniak
Skim-speed-read. Will use this to teach a literary criticism unit to 10th graders. The appendix is really what makes this book useful.
Sarah Remsing
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Appleman argues very well for the importance of literary theory, and does an excellent job explaining the different lenses that teachers and students use, as well how to introduce these lenses and the topic as a whole to students in a digestible and useful way. She provides lots of great examples of activities teachers have actually done with students and the results. Appleman doesn't shy away from showing the challenges that come with teaching literary theory, and shows the resistance students ...more
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A key resource for getting students to think more deeply about any given text, as well as other world perspectives.
Ginnie Miller
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pedagogy
Solid lesson plans recommendations and conversation about applying topics to different types of class situations.
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 th ...more
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 an ...more
Michele Tota
Nov 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helpful book for teachers especially the Appendix section that accompanies each chapter. Recognise that it is for those who are teaching literary theory, so the audience may be limited; however, if you fall in that category, I highly recommend the book.

The more recent editions have more current examples and the 2o15 edition has non-fiction ideas which is great! I changed my rating from a 3 to a 4 for that reason.

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.
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.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
While I don't know that everything in this book was as clear as it should've been, it was a really incredible resource that covered an assortment of the lenses used to read literature through. I really enjoyed the class activities and handouts provided in the appendix and will be sure to use a few of those in my classroom.
Eric Harrington
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I did a re-reading of this text, as I am about to start my career teaching, and I have to say, this book is still the single-most influential pedagogical text that I've read. Appleman's arguments are lucid, meaningful, and she provides ample resources and "case studies" to show how the ideas can be implemented and adapted to a variety of learning situations and students.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Cyndi Lu
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was required reading for a college class. While the pedagogical breakdowns at the end are helpful, this is wordy and honestly, just boring to read. There are more comprehensive ways to learn about critical lenses.
Travis Jensen
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
A decent literary theory overview

This book does a decent job of exploring various literary theories and how the mindful teacher can incorporate them in the classroom. The appendix is particularly useful
Mitchell Walker
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very useful text that taught me a lot about applying literary theory in the classroom. Also, the text includes lots of helpful resources such as literary lens cards which will help as a reference for review for students during any activity.
Mar 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
Approaches to teaching middle and high school reading. Encompasses reading strategies and literary criticism.
Jacquie Bryant
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  ·  review of another edition
Useful guide to students.
Dec 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Icky, icky
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Deborah Appleman is the Hollis L. Caswell professor of educational studies and director of the Summer Writing Program at Carleton College. Professor Appleman’s recent research has focused on teaching college-level language and literature courses at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater for inmates who are interested in pursuing post-secondary education.

Deborah recently edited an anthology

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