Using affective appraisal to help readers construct literary interpretations

Sarah Levine, William S Horton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


reading poems, short stories, and other literary texts, but are often unable to construct inferences and thematic interpretations of these works. This paper discusses the results of an instructional intervention built on an affect-based model of literary interpretation. Students in the intervention group spent four weeks reading and writing about popular and canonical texts, with a focus on poetry. As they read, they identified valence-laden language, made appraisals of valence, and then explained or justified their appraisals. Analyses of pre- and post-test results show that the intervention group made significant gains in the level of interpretive responses to poems compared to a control group of students who were not explicitly taught to engage in affective appraisal. This work sheds light on ways in which affect-based interpretive strategies can support novice readers’ interpretive practices.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-136
Number of pages32
JournalThe Scientific Study of Literature
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


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