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Title: Perceptions of Reality through Literature - young adults' fictional reading explored through appraisal and expression
Authors: Nilsson, Skans Kersti
Department: University of Borås. Swedish School of Library and Information Science
Issue Date: 2012
Citation: IGEL Montréal 7-10 July 2012
Media type: text
Publication type: conference paper, peer reviewed
Subject Category: Subject categories::Humanities
Subject categories::Social Sciences
Research Group: E-book project
Area of Research: Läsforskning
Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap
Strategic Research Area: Library and information science
Abstract: The study aims to explore how and in what ways young adults show through appraisal and comments their understanding of content and meaning in narrative from a different cultural and political tradition and environment. Moreover, whether comprehension and creating opinion can be linked with fiction reading competence, the ability to distinguish between fact and fiction and develop analogies with their own experience or other political or social situations. The study is mainly quantitative, based on a questionnaire consisting of 43 questions in four sections: A/ Reactions to a short story. This section is the main one with 22 questions. B/ Appraisal of fictional reading habits and preferences, as well as other uses of fiction investigated in 13 questions. C/ Appraisal of media habits with special focus on TV and Internet in 8 questions. Out of 43 questions, two are strictly qualitative. The others leave space for personal comments. Respondents in this study consist of pupils in upper secondary school, age 16-19, and in folk high school, age 19-25. 50 come from theoretical programmes, 50 from practical, and 30 from folk high school. In all 130 respondents, born between 1987-1996. 60% are 17-18 years old, which means they are born between 1994-1995. In terms of sex, 59% are male pupils, and 43% females. Females are dominant in theoretical programmes (58%), and males in practical programmes (88%), and in folk high school (60%). The predominant programmes are Global Studies (females) and Car Mechanics (males). Conclusions: First of all, literacy is not a major problem, according to this study. Only 5% consider this story difficult to understand. Further, the study shows clear distinctions between educational programmes, as well as between the sexes concerning fictional reading. Reproduction of habits and class are, according to Bourdieu, still predominant. Females spend more time reading fiction and pay more attention to cognition, affect and intention within it than males do, which confirms results from van Schooten, de Glooper and Stoel (2004). They are also more likely to reflect upon themes and motifs as well as on ethical issues in fiction. Metaphorical understanding of this story is not generally confirmed. Comments show that lack of understanding can lead to misconceptions. Identification with the boy as narrator shows no gender-match effect in this study, as 2 % more of the females can recognize themselves within him, while 74% of the males and 62% of the females cannot. This confirms the results of Bortolussi and Dixon (2010), saying that: “… identification is a function not so much of similarities between character and reader as the ability to construct an analogy between the experiences of the reader and those of the narrative character.” (2010, p. 314) Identification with first-person narrative is not, according to Keene, similar to narrative empathy (2006, p.216). Appraisals concerning identity (14%) and the reality of this story (over 65%), underscore her conclusion that: “bounded strategic empathy occurs within an in-group, stemming from experiences of mutuality, and leading to feeling with familiar others.” (2006, p. 224) Another conclusion is that reading this story has not affected the respondents cognitively. A majority of 54% don’t think that the story tells them what it might be like to grow up after a war, although even more, 66%, believe the story to be based on reality, i.e. on facts. Finally, a majority of 69% do not think that the story contains anything that might be useful to their own lives. Analogies to what it might be like to grow up under warfare or rough political conflicts today were only shown by immigrants. It can be concluded that the Holocaust is regarded as history, a stage in the past. This might confirm what Giddens and Bauman tells of construction of identity in the globaliazed and consumerized world of today.
Sustainable development: sustainable development
Appears in Collections:Konferensbidrag / Conference papers (BHS)

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