International Journal of Education & the Arts

Volume 11 Number 7

April 17, 2010

"Why Didn't They Get It?" "Did They Have to Get It?":
What Reader Response Theory Has to Offer Narrative Research and Pedagogy

Becky Atkinson
University of Alabama, USA

Roland Mitchell
Louisiana State University, USA

Citation: Atkinson, B., & Mitchell, R. (2010). "Why didn't they get it?" "Did they have to get it?": What reader response theory has to offer narrative research and pedagogy. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 11(7). Retrieved [date] from
In this paper we suggest that narrative representations that seemingly fail to reach an audience as intended may engage the audience in more meaningful ways. We use reader response theory to explore how an audience's responses to a conference narrative presentation made available a multiplicity of interpretive frameworks and narratives to the readers/listeners. We assert that when various interpretive frameworks are made visible across the context of a narrative text by the readers' or listeners' responses to it, they can be examined for how they collude, collide, exclude, and compete for meaning. At the same time, conversations evoked by narrative texts and through other arts can generate greater understanding across and through cultural differences. This offers dynamic pedagogical possibilities through appealing to our horticultural approach of seeking out knowledge gained from conversations across divergent interpretive communities. Our point here is that the intentional creation of instances where students are challenged to recognize the taken for granted notions that ground their worldviews through the arts in education and education in the arts affords indispensable opportunities to engage students in a richer type of teaching and learning.

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