The voice of the book and the voice of the child: Whole language as poststructuralist literary theory
AuthorLeith, Rena Margaret.
Committee ChairGoodman, Yetta M.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation explores the characteristics of a literary theory that recognizes the difference between children's and adult culture, the consequent youthism, and the need for ecological validity within the context of children's culture. I have developed a general theory that combines elements of whole language that are not currently included in leading literary theories with a focus on ecological validity and culture and applied this theory to examples of children's and adolescent literature in order to validate the theory and to have a basis for comparison with extant literary theories. My proposed theory is based on the existence of children's culture, children's and adolescent literature as full-fledged members of the literary family, poststructuralism, and whole language. The ecological system of criticism I'm proposing gives both the reader and the author a place. Just as the reader comes to each text anew every time s/he reads it, so the author revisits ideas in later versions of his/her own writing as well as encountering his/her text from a different perspective upon reading it after time has passed. In an ecological system of criticism, symbiosis between the author and the reader on the meeting ground of the text is the desired result. The base of the system is text, the thing all have in common although it is never replicated (shifting base). The text is a unit that has/had meaning for its author and is usually perceived of as intending to communicate meaning; it is capable of being approached for the purpose of transacting meaning within time and space. The analysis suggests that adding the cultural context to literary theory equalizes the factors that previously led to children's and adolescent literature being considered substandard within the literary community, as children are considered substandard within the adult community. Ecological theory reveals more about the reader than the text, and meaning relies on intertextuality and interexperientiality.
Degree ProgramLanguage, Reading & Culture