The Role of Genre Expectation in Literary Readers Engagement in Interpretative Literary Reasoning

2015-02-22T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Kathryn S. McCarthy
Previous research has shown that the expectation of a particular literary genre (poetry vs. prose) affected how readers construed the meaning of the text as manifest in think-aloud comments (Peskin, 2007). The current study was designed to replicate and extend these findings using longer literary texts and essays instead of think-alouds to assess meaning making. Two texts by the same author were presented to 89 college students, one presented in a typical prose format (as a paragraph) and the other laid out like a more typical poem. Each text appeared equally often as poem or as prose across participants. Essays were coded for six kinds of behaviors related to literary interpretation. The data yielded mixed evidence for the genre expectation effect. Factors that may have affected the relationship between genre manipulation and interpretative reasoning are discussed.