Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup

Conversations in Literature
Conversations in Literature — Workshop

Individual Program

1. Responding
as Readers

2. Envisioning

3. Stepping In

4. Moving Through

5. Rethinking

6. Objectifying
the Text

7. The Stances
in Action

8. Returning to the

Support Materials

HomeEnvisionment BuildingHelpful Hints for Site LeadersLesson BuilderSearch this SiteSite Map


Key Points

Learning Objectives

Background Reading

Homework Assignment

Classroom Connection

Ongoing Activity
Additional Reading


When readers step out of a text and rethink what they know, they mentally cast themselves out of a text and reenter their own world. It is here they can learn from the text. When they stand in this position to a text, readers reflect on the decisions and choices they have made in their own lives, the things they have done, and dilemmas they have faced. Something they have encountered in the text — an event in the plot structure, a character's actions or reactions, for example — plunge them back into their past to consider other possibilities. Not only can readers learn about other cultures, eras, and even their own lives from the text, but also they can sometimes become cognizant of the information they are learning from it.

Readers are not always provoked to rethink their lives as they read. However, when they do find points of congruence between what they are reading and what they have lived, readers respond in many deep ways, rethinking a past decision or event from a different perspective, for example. They find alternatives that may not have occurred to them previously.

At times, readers deliberately enter a text to find a message there that they can translate into their own lives. But most often, especially when the literature is rich and complex, these moments for reflection present themselves serendipitously.

When such a connection is made, readers find themselves contemplating: How could they have reacted differently? How could they have felt differently? What else might they have been able to think about in that situation? Some other questions that readers mentally pose when they step out of a text and rethink what they know might include:

  • How might I react if I were in a similar situation as the character in the text? Was I ever in a similar situation? Do I know anyone who was?
  • What can I learn from the situation in this text?
  • Why did I feel a certain way or act a certain way when I found myself in a situation similar to the one in the text?
  • What were my choices? Did I make the best ones?
  • How else could I have handled it? What should I do now?
  • What did I gain from that decision? Was it the right one?
  • How could I act if I wanted to become a more ______ person?
In asking and answering these questions, readers come to see literature as a portal, through which they can look at themselves, recreate their own identities, and imagine who they might become.

The text world can remain open to readers long after they have put the text aside. They can return here as they reconsider and think through what they have done, or said, or thought from the perspectives the text has offered them.

The opportunity to gain insight about one's life by reading literature is at the heart of why many of us continue to read. This program presents panelists engaged in a lively discussion about Hamlet, where each member of the conversation connects with the text on a unique personal level. The panelists demonstrate how this drama has been an opportunity to rethink their own life story from the vantage point of the text world.

For a complete guide to the workshop session activities, download and print our support materials.



© Annenberg Foundation 2017. All rights reserved. Legal Policy