Linguistic and Literary Theories in Reading

by Feryal Cubukcu (Volume editor) Leyla Harputlu (Volume editor)
©2015 Edited Collection 300 Pages


The purpose of this book is to present to scholars, students and enthusiasts in the fields of literature and linguistics a way to study a text analytically. Reading is multi-faceted and shaped by contexts, participants, and technologies. The ways of reading tackled most enthusiastically in this book are interpretations which show active involvement of readers: Each literary or linguistic approach can be compared to a window through which we see, grapple, comprehend, personalize and internalize the text, hence the world.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • The Contents
  • Introduction
  • Part I. Language and Reading
  • Reading and Language Teaching
  • Reading Skills and Strategies
  • Creative Reading
  • Part II. Literary Theories
  • New Criticism and Ernest Hemingway’s The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
  • Russian Formalism and Reading
  • A Psychoanalytic Analysis of The Portrait of A Lady
  • A Jungian Archetypal Analysis of The Iliad
  • A Deconstructionist Reading of Goblin Market
  • A New Historicist Reading of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • A Feminist Analysis of The Awakening
  • Changing Masculinities and Femininities: A Comparative Analysis of Bridget Jones’s Diary and Pride and Prejudice
  • A Reader-Response Approach to Reading Martin Crimp’s The Country
  • A Geocritical Reading of Harold Pinter’s Ashes To Ashes
  • Part III. Linguistic Theories
  • Stylistics and Reading
  • Free Indirect Discourse and Reading
  • Cognitive Poetics in the analysis of narrative of Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills
  • Systemic Functional Linguistics as an Analytical Tool in Reading Comprehension
  • Epilogue

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Reading is of great interest for many reasons and probably one of the most researched topics in education. As stated by Davidson (1993) “This is not surprising in a society where the primary focus of our schools is up on increasing reading achievement, where individual reading is a major past time, and where numerous jobs are devoted to reading in some form – creating text, preserving text, sharing text, analyzing text, etc.” (p. 2). Reading is not a single or monolithic entity. It has a crucial place in all disciplines. Research over the past few decades shows that it is a set of multi-faceted social practices. Reading is shaped by contexts, participants, and technologies. Because of its multi-faceted nature, many theories of reading which tackle different perspectives to texts have been proposed. The purpose of this book is to grapple with issues on linguistic and literary theories in reading.

The first three chapters examine language based theories in reading. In the first chapter, “Reading and Language Teaching”, Selami Aydın studies the relationship between reading and language teaching. Aydın states that reading as an analytic and a holistic act requires continual practice, and is directly related to the interpretation of the skills to use in a process of automatic determinations that consist of the schema of the reader, reading purpose and the context. The six skills and knowledge areas that involve the cognitive processes are identified as automatic word recognition skills, vocabulary and structural knowledge, formal discourse structure knowledge, content / world background knowledge, synthesis and evaluation skills and strategies and metacognitive knowledge and skills monitoring (Grabe, 1991). The reading process consists of three dimensions; the text, the reader and the interaction between the text and the reader, and involves three models used in teaching reading, identified as bottom-up, top-down and interactive models. In the reading process, the reader’s previously acquired background knowledge plays a vital role in comprehension. In this sense, Schema Theory claims that the readers’ background knowledge is organized into interrelated patterns or schema, a general term for a conventional knowledge structure that exists in memory (Yule, 2014).

The title of the second chapter is “Reading Skills and Strategies”. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce readers to basic information on reading skills in the foreign language teaching and learning processes. Equally, the purpose of the chapter is to inform readers of the practice of reading skills. Ceyhun Yükselir in his chapter aimed to provide insights into reading skills and strategies as a fundamental component of learning and teaching environment. To this end, it started ← 7 | 8 → with the definition of reading and reading as a process and then presented reading models, top-down, bottom-up, interactive reading model and schema theory, suggested for improving social and cultural awareness, broadening one’s horizons and providing a good interaction between the reader and the writer. All in all, it can be revealed that when these reading models are integrated into reading class as a procedure, the result could be effective for both teachers and students, who are willing to take an active and participatory role in a classroom environment. The chapter also touched upon the reading strategies for effective reading comprehension such as previewing, scanning, skimming, predicting, asking questions, using semantic mapping or clustering, guessing meaning from context, and connecting one part of the text to another and ended with the application with the aim of showing reading strategies in an example lesson plan for reading class. Taking such information about reading skills and strategies into consideration, this chapter provides comprehensive information about reading models, skills and strategies for effective reading comprehension.

The third chapter is devoted to “Creative Reading”. Leyla Harputlu draws attention to the issue that reading is now accepted as a creative activity in itself, and it is also an important element in other creative learning and doing processes. She claims that with the rising popularity of creative second language education, it is becoming essential to realize creative skills and meaning in reading in a foreign language. The aim of this chapter is to shed light on creativity in reading education. The chapter introduces the idea that reading may stimulate creativity. There is a need to present alternatives, different ways of interpreting texts and different conceptions of reading. These reading materials may provide the reader with the opportunity of understanding self and others. The chapter explains why creative reading is important, and gives some ideas about how students might become a more creative reader. The chapter also reviews the related studies on how to make the students read creatively. This chapter presents the following components: creativity, second language study and creative thinking, creative reading, and how second language reading improves creativity.

The chapters in the Literary Theories in Reading section are concerned with how critical theories can be applied to understand, decode, interpret and critique a literary text with reference to major literary works. The first chapter in this section is entitled “New Criticism and Ernest Hemingway’s The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Zennure Köseman. In her section, Köseman discusses new criticism, its function and characteristics. Köseman states that New Criticism was the first critical literary theory of the twentieth century that is concerned with the literary document rather than any cultural, social and historical influences of the writing process. She holds that New Criticism enriches new perspective of ← 8 | 9 → studies to uncover any hidden meanings in them by means of analyzing all literary expressions. She argues that searching for a close reading of a literary text without looking for any other influences is a means of analyzing the real and original meaning of that written work of art. The chapter also discusses how a text can be studied in terms of New Criticism. One of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories, The Short Story of Francis Macomber is selected for the application, which revolves around stressing the priority of the literary devices such as symbolic, thematic, narrative point of views and other figures of speech.

“Russian Formalism and Reading” by Violetta Trofomova is devoted to the explanation of literary device. Trofomova introduces Russian formalism as one of the examples of the textual approach to literature which appeared in the 1910s and which was at its height in the 1920s and was suppressed in 1930. Russian formalists treated literature as a special field of human endeavour. The chapter provides a short overview of the main works of Shklovsky, Tynyanov, Eichenbaum, Tomashevsky and Propp. The chapter also presents an analysis of a text using a formalist approach framework.

A psychoanalytic analysis of The Portrait of A Lady by Meryem Ayan begins with a definition of psychoanalytic literary criticism. She states that Psychoanalytic theory was first laid out by Sigmund Freud in the late 19th century, and has undergone many refinements since his work. Ayan states that Sigmund Freud had developed the dynamic form of psychology by exploring the human psyche and tried to develop the main principles, objectives, techniques, and methodology of psychoanalysis through his studies. The chapter goes on to explain the major Freudian principles of psychoanalysis criticism, the major psychoanalytic characteristics in a literary text, and the stages of a psychoanalytic journey.

A Deconstructionist reading of Goblin Market by Feryal Cubukcu deals with the relationship between Deconstructionism and reading. She explains that Deconstruction is a form of philosophical and literary analysis derived principally from Jacques Derrida’s 1967 work of Grammatology. Cubukcu adds that Derrida does not state the encompassing tenets of his critical approach anywhere and present a codified body of deconstructive methodology. She draws attention to his claim that that his approach to reading and literary analysis is more a strategic devise than a methodology, more strategy to literature than a school or literary criticism. In her chapter Çubukçu defines deconstructionism and discusses the key terms used in a deconstructive analysis.

A New Historicist reading of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Ayça Ülker proceeds with how New Historicism emerged on the critical scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s and mostly appeared in the works of English Renaissance scholars, especially in those of Stephen Greenblatt. New ← 9 | 10 → Historicism is frequently defined as a literary theory based on the idea that literature should be studied and interpreted within the context of both the history of the author and the history of the critic. Besides, the critic’s response to that work is also influenced by his environment, beliefs, and prejudices are also among the study topics of New Historicism. Ülker applies the theory of New Historicism to William Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream emphasizing the political and patriarchal dominance of the play. She states that it is most significant how the magic and the mythological context of the play becomes political and expresses power relations in the Elizabethan era. Her chapter provides for answers to questions like “What is New Historicism?”, “What is a new historicist analysis?”, “How can literary criticism turn on history by reading history as a text?”, and “What is the relationship between power and subversion in a literary text?”.

In the chapter entitled “A Jungian Archetypal Analysis of The Iliad” Feryal Cubukcu describes a Jungian archetypal analysis of The Iliad. This approach regards literature as archetypes determine the form and function of literary works. These archetypes are the same for every person no matter where they live on this planet, regardless of culture. Çubukçu states in modern parlance, the archetypes are neural circuits that are genetically organized during the neurogenesis of the young brain. In her chapter, Çubukçu defines the archetypal analysis, the major archetypes in a literary text and the stages of a hero’s journey to maturity in the Greek play.

A Feminist analysis of The Awakening by Meryem Ayan argues that feminism is an ideological, political, economic, cultural and social movement. It is complex, debatable and interdisciplinary. Ayan explains that Feminism is used to describe a broad movement embracing numerous phases of destiny, freedom from sex determined roles, society’s oppressive restrictions, freedom to express female thoughts and convert them freely to actions. Ayan argues that the main concern of feminism can be stated as to disrupt traditional boundaries between art and life, masculine and feminine, high and popular culture, and the dominant and marginal.

“Changing Masculinities and Femininities: A Comparative Analysis of Bridget Jones’s Diary and Pride and Prejudice” by Burak Irmak firstly examines “masculinity” and “feminity” as a more sociological term. Irmak argues that although these two words may seem two insignificant words, they are actually at the center of human life. He presents some of the most important theorists like Simone de Beauvoir, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler and Ewe Kosofsky Sedwick. To sum up, he states that although times have changed, cultures still create their boundaries consisting of masculinity and femininity.

“A Reader-Response Approach to Reading Martin Crimp’s The Country” by Dilek Inan discusses a reader-response theory which has an important place in the ← 10 | 11 → poststructuralist perspective. The reader response theory rejects a coherent and internally consistent meaning when responding to postmodern texts. The reader is redefined as an active participant of the meaning-making process rather than being a passive recipient of the author’s. Inan applies Reader-Response Approach to Martin Crimp’s The Country.

“A Geocritical Reading Of Harold Pinter’s Ashes To Ashes” by the same scholar, Dilek Inan, discusses geocriticism as a literary criticism, which suggests an interdisciplinary approach to understanding literature in relation to space and place. Inan states that Geocriticism may be practically defined as a postmodern, postcolonial and post-structuralist attempt to deconstruct and reconstruct languages of space and place. She explains that the theory has been developed by Bertrand Westphal in France and Robert T. Tally in America, and provides for the necessary methodology and terminology for interpreting representations of space and place in literary texts. The study is also concerned with the analysis of a geocritical reading of Harold Pinter’s Ashes To Ashes.

The third section on linguistic theory refers to the theoretical framework that is most widely employed in language description, particularly grammatical descriptions of entire languages. In this section three chapters are presented. “Stylistics and reading” by Nazan Tutaş explores how readers interact with the language of mainly literary texts in order to explain how we understand, and are affected by texts when they are read. She explains that stylistics combines the use of linguistic analysis with the psychological processes involved in reading; It is not restricted to the analysis of literature only it can be applied equally to expository prose, political speeches, and advertisements. Tutaş states that a sttylistic analysis of a text can help understand and explain the impact of a literary or non-literary piece of work on a reader.

The chapter entitled “Free Indirect Discourse and Reading” by Krunoslav Mikulan & Vladimir Legac introduces the topic with an analysis of the diagram of the tripartite schema of discourse. In addition to defining its main elements: direct, free and indirect discourse, the introduction lists some other types of speech representation and explains why free indirect discourse as a stylistic device can be attractive for writers, i.e. it blurs the distinction between the narrator’s and character’s voice. It continues with a short survey of the history of this device, explanation of terminology in different languages and an analysis of its characteristics. This is followed by an example of a passage from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice where it is illustrated why FID can cause ambiguity for the reader by analyzing a possible emergence of two voices and the shift of experience between the narrator and the characters. The authors then move on to give an analysis of indicators of FID quoted in literature. They conclude with an explanation of the ← 11 | 12 → two factors influencing the reader’s interpretation of FID from the point of view of reading acquisition and the way of treatment of reading.

“Systemic Functional Linguistics as an Analytical Tool in Reading Comprehension” by Laya Heidari Darani, by following the textual interactive reading, continues to borrow from Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) for its theoretical framework. Accordingly, language which is considered to be functional must be analyzed at the text level; and is only understood in relation to the context of situation (register) and context of culture (genre). Martin (1992) defines genre as a staged, goal-oriented social process. This means that each genre is composed of a number of stages called a schematic structure or text structure that function to demarcate the transition from one phase to another to attain an overall social goal. According to Halliday (1985), register is a configuration of three variables; field (subject matter), tenor (participants in the communication) and mode (the channel through which message is exchanged), in the context of situation.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (July)
Russian formalism New Criticism Psychoanalysis creative thinking critical thinking
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 300 pp., 14 b/w ill., 3 tables, 21 graphs

Biographical notes

Feryal Cubukcu (Volume editor) Leyla Harputlu (Volume editor)

Feryal Cubukcu and Leyla Harputlu are professors at Dokuz Eylül University in Izmir (Turkey). Their shared main interests are language teaching, psycholinguistics, applied linguistics, and critical reading.


Title: Linguistic and Literary Theories in Reading