Meaning arises from a coming-together of text and reader, which evokes a We can’t do Rosenblatt’s theory justice in a post of this length so we would encourage you to find out more by reading her work yourself, but we think some of the following key ideas from transactional theory raise some important points for the classroom teacher.
This framework is Text World Theory (Gavins 2007; Werth 1999), a discourse grammar that has commonly been used as a framework for analysing texts.
Typically, that knowledge may relate to the nature of a bedroom and its furniture, and specifically to what a young girl’s room might look like.
The passage further draws on a reader’s knowledge of what a “country house” might be (perhaps secluded, set in grounds, grand, old-fashioned), and so on.
We believe that notions of authority, interpretation and knowledge are important, as is the question of just how teachers introduce literature in ways that are engaging, draw on and legitimise young readers’ schematic knowledge, and encourage an aesthetic literary experience.
We’re also interested in how teaching approaches should best introduce additional contextual information, and what might happen if the dominant approach to reading in the classroom is transmissive and teacher-led.
Her bedroom was just one of countless in this vast country house.
To her right side stood her wardrobe, on her left sat a tiny dressing table, framed by a tall window.
A model that we find attractive is Louise Rosenblatt’s transactional theory (Rosenblatt 1970, 1978), which has influenced the teaching of literature in both the USA and the UK.
Rosenblatt’s theory is a reader-response theory that stresses the active role of the reader in the process of meaning-making but also acknowledges the importance the text itself.