An exploration of reader response to and social identification with Grade 12 prescribed poetry
MetadataShow full item record
The thesis offers insight into English literature studies as taught at high school level to Grade 12 learners, employing Louise Rosenblatt’s reader response theory to explore and understand their encounter and engagement with prescribed poetry by enquiring as to whether social conditions in their lives allow an identification with these poems. The thesis argues for the validity and implementation of reader response theory in the South African curriculum because when learners engage with their memories, experiences and opinions; identification with the poem is possible. If learners identify with the poems that are being taught, there may be a sense of harmony as they realise that their problems or experiences are not in isolation. The sample population comprises of learners attending two high schools located in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town: a community that presents a myriad of societal challenges. Proper ethical considerations were followed in order to gain access to the research sites and anonymity was promised to all research participants. The research entails the usage of openended questionnaires to elicit data which has been processed qualitatively by means of content analysis whereby various central social environment themes were identified. A background of Mitchells Plain’s social ills is provided in order to understand the challenges facing the research participants. The thesis offers an extensive discussion on the history and current state of education in South Africa, as well as a delineation of the study of the discipline of poetry by highlighting its proposed benefits from humanities and scientific perspectives. Additionally, the thesis provides a background on different reader response theories and published reader response studies with a focus on the social environment of the individual for further elucidation of the theoretical framework. Results of the study reveal that the selected poems by William Blake, W.H. Auden, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Chinua Achebe yield fascinating responses as most research participants can socially identify with the contextual themes and characters. The thesis sheds light on a few shortcomings or limitations which may have impacted the data collection process and provides recommendations on how to improve any future related studies and possibilities of best teaching practice of English literature in South African high schools.