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Close Reading: A Synergistic Approach to the (Post)Modern Divide

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This paper explores the relationship between New Critical close reading techniques and studies of literary engagement by building on the work of Sumara, Rosenblatt and Todorov. New Critical techniques responded to the allusive density and terseness of modernist poetry and fiction. In the half-century since, the situated approaches favoured by postmodernism have pushed the hermeticism and analytic underpinnings of modernism (that of the text as an entity unto itself) from vogue. After delineating some precepts from the New Critical perspective and tracing the shift towards postmodernism, this paper argues for a synergistic critical approach for literary exploration in the secondary and tertiary classroom; specifically, it argues for the pedagogical necessity of close reading as a precursor to literary engagement and postmodernist textual considerations.
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Keywords: New Criticism; close reading; curriculum theory; formalism; modernism; pedagogy; postmodernism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Curriculum Studies Department, Faculty of Education, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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