Alvermann, Donna, Stephen Phelps, and Victoria Gillis. Content Area Reading and Literacy. Pearson: Boston. 2010.

Chapter Nine: Reflecting on Reading, Promoting Cultural Literacy

December 2, 2011

Margaret Roth


a sign to be better, to be irreplaceable, to transcend

FROM: Beardsley, Monroe, Robert Daniel, and Glenn Leggett. Theme and Form,  1959.

“The fundamental tool of the student of literature is comparison. It is comparison that enables him to understand a work of literature, both its form and its subject.”


CRITICAL - expressing or involving an analysis of creative work
AUTHORITY - the power or right to do, act, or say

LITERACY - competence or knowledge

CRITICAL LITERACY: competent analysis of knowledge

CRITICAL AUTHORITY: knowledge base from which to make conclusions

HYPERTEXT - use of hyperlinks in digital texts to make a web of interconnected resources

PHILISTINE - A member of an Aegean people who settled ancient Philistia around the 12th

century B.C; A smug, ignorant, especially middle-class person who is regarded as being indifferent or antagonistic to artistic and cultural values.

ROOTS: 1905, 1941

Use of “Critical Authority” by The Outlook, William James Rolfe by Thomas Wentworth Higginson - 1905 - American Shakespearean scholar and educator - American Unitarian minister, author, and abolitionist, and soldier.

Hypertext, “The Garden of Forking Paths” by Jorge Luis Borges - Hypertext novel in that the novel has different layers and essential multiple options for text reading. - Argentine writer, essayist, poet, and translator.

MODERN: 2010

“The answer to the angry Amazon reviewer who mangles sentences in an effort to berate or praise an author is the perfectly constructed old-fashioned essay that holds within its well-formed sentences and graceful rhetoric the values it protects and projects. More than ever, critical authority comes from the power of the critic’s prose, the force and clarity of her language; it is in the art of writing itself that information and knowledge are carried, in the sentences themselves that literature is preserved. The secret function of the critic today is to write beautifully, and in so doing protect beautiful writing.” - American author and journalist, feminist


Should we go here?

In removing the Author from analysis of a text, Barthes simultaneously preserves all texts for further study, reopening the closed books, and also overturns the idea of the "Critic", authorizing (forgive the pun) all readers to be critical of what they read. Since without an Author there can no longer be an "authoritative viewpoint", all viewpoints are valid, and texts are therefore not only reassembled, but broadened to limitless "disengagements" by any number of Readers.

It is this new figure, that of the Reader, which can emerge after the removal of the Author and the Critic, and it is to this Reader that all texts are directed. Barthes says "the true place of writing is reading," and this, to him, seems as important as any other idea about a Text. It is is the reading (not in the person who in some unseen and distant place and time put the text to paper), that the text comes to life. A text still tied to its Author is either unfinished or not to be read by the public. A text to be read by the public is therefore severed from the hand of the Author by necessity, and the Reader is born. - Death of the Author by Roland Barthes, 1977 - French literary theorist on the development of schools


a sign to be better, to be irreplaceable, to transcend


From Harvard University’s student newspaper The Crimson

In a decade, the critics that readers love and trust will look very different. They will have day jobs. They will come from around the world; they will elevate new canons and offer fresh perspectives on old ones. They will not live in New York; they will not have been born privileged; they will have no connections to the literary establishment. Accomplished, articulate tastemakers will not disappear, but diversify—and in doing so, matter more, to more people, than ever before.