Workshop 1. Responding As Readers
In this session, the audience meets the readers in this workshop — including Dr. Langer — and their varied literary backgrounds. Dr. Langer introduces the major concepts of her work in understanding the processes through which effective readers interact with literary texts.
Workshop 2. Envisioning
Dr. Langer explains the four vantage points that effective readers take as they build "envisionments," and the research process through which she identified them. She explains how each vantage point, or "stance" being outside and stepping into an envisionment, being in and moving through an envisionment, stepping out and rethinking what one knows, and stepping out and objectifying the experience contributes to an evolving and expansive understanding of the text. The stances are demonstrated as the readers discuss Gary Soto's poem "Oranges."
Workshop 3. Stepping In
In a discussion of James Dickey's "The Lifeguard" and Frank O'Connor's "First Confession," the group talks about their impressions, intuitions, and hunches that help them gather information as they first enter a text. They also talk through sticking points when the information they encounter in the text fragments their envisionments, and demonstrate how they work collectively to rebuild them. Throughout, Dr. Langer clarifies and explains content and suggests ways to apply techniques in the classroom.
Workshop 4. Moving Through
In this session, the community of readers shows how they create an envisionment as they are in and moving through a text, a time of great personal involvement in the action and character motivation. The group works with two texts, Cathy Song's poem "Lost Sister" and Stephen Dixon's short story "All Gone," building on their initial impressions to examine motives, feelings, causes, interrelationships, and interactions as they create a more complete envisionment of these texts. At this point in their reading, the community steps inside each text virtually, living through it as it unfolds.
Workshop 5. Rethinking
The group demonstrates another important vantage point that competent readers adopt: that of stepping outside the text and using what they find there to rethink what they know. As they discuss Shakespeare's Hamlet, they plumb the familial relationships included in the text to find points of congruence between the text and their own lives, and lessons they can take away from this examination. Dr. Langer stresses that, while not all texts speak explicitly to readers in this way, seeking the places where one's life intersects with the lessons of literature is important for all readers.
Workshop 6. Objectifying the Text
This session showcases the reader as critic, as the readers step out of the text to reflect on what it all means, how it works, and why. From this stance, the readers look at Alice Walker's "Revolutionary Petunias" and Langston Hughes's "Theme for English B" to examine the authors' craft, the structure of the text and its various literary elements, and the choice of language. Dr. Langer reminds readers of the importance of personal evaluation of the text and encourages teachers of readers to include the techniques explored here in their classrooms.
Workshop 7. The Stances in Action
This session shows how readers move into and out of each of the stances as they build their envisionments. This program serves as a model of effective reading habits for the viewer, focusing on two extended discussions as the onscreen readers individually and collectively enter and become immersed in their reading, and step back and reflect on its lessons. Viewers will learn to discern the various stances used and how they can influence work with students.
Workshop 8. Returning to the Classroom
In the concluding session, the readers in this community talk about the ways in which these processes can affect the language arts classroom, sharing their success stories. The audience is also given the opportunity to eavesdrop on classrooms throughout the country to see how teachers can encourage their students to become active and involved readers, creating rich and complex envisionments as they interact with literature.