narrative strategies
young adult fiction

How to Cite

McRae, M., Rutherford, L., & Boucher, G. (2020). The use of reader response in the practice of readers and writers: A case study. Synergy, 18(2). Retrieved from https://www.slav.vic.edu.au/index.php/Synergy/article/view/411



This paper reports on part of a larger study that used both creative and critical research methods to research the effects of textual strategies on reader response to a work of young adult fiction. A novel for young adults was crafted in order to test the hypothesis that that defamiliarizing narrative strategies - such as those formerly associated with modernist novels – could provoke deep reading practice. We hypothesized that literature that that defamiliarizes, both in structural and contextual or ideological terms, imposes cognitive dissonance on its readers and provokes higher order inference making associated with deep reading. To test this, the researchers asked three teenagers to read the purposively created novel and to keep a reading journal progressively documenting their thoughts and reactions during the reading process. Analysis of these journals suggests that complex characters, spatial structure, and the defamiliarisation of narrative traditions all contributed to a deeper reading experience. Furthermore, the efficacy of untagged dialogue in provoking deep reading points to the importance of passages with withheld information and reduced narratorial guidance. This study investigated the reader response of small number of avid or engaged readers. However, the use of reader response diaries in conjunction with young adult fiction may provide a useful tool enabling English educators to analyse their students’ developing response to complex narrative strategies.