Narrative Stance as Default for Reading
Various factors are involved in how texts are processed and comprehended (see Kintsch, 1980; Rosenblatt, 1985; Hunt, 1990; Kintsch, 1998; Geiger & Millis, 2004). Individual reasons for reading, instructions received before reading, the situational context in which texts are received and expectations of the textual genre impact on the reading stance and the subsequently-adopted framework (control schema) which monitors comprehension (see Van Dijk & Kintsch; 1983; Zwaan, 1993) and in turn determines whether texts are read – according to one classification – in an information-driven, story-driven or literary manner (see Vipond & Hunt, 1984; Hunt & Vipond, 1987). Results of a small-group experiment indicate that, in the absence of specific instructions before reading, or prior knowledge of the genres of texts they read, advanced level second-language readers selected narrative as the default stance to comprehend poetry, jokes, expository texts and narratives. There was no correlation between the language in which they reported their recall of texts and the type of texts that they read. Similar bilingual subjects had in another study recalled texts read in story-driven and information-driven manners in their first language, and texts read in a literary-driven manner in the text language (their second language). The paper will argue that this may be explained by the ubiquitous occurrence and universal nature of narratives and the concomitant narrative processing competence shared by most individuals. Together with hypothesised (to be investigated) predilections of undergraduate students for watching films, sharing jokes and anecdotes rather than engaging in leisure reading, this situation can be exploited by educationalists to encourage students to read written narratives by raising their consciousness of the comparable comprehension processes used for different modalities (Persson, 1998a; Zwaan & Radvansky, 1998; Magliano et al. 2001). Further scaffolding will enable students to access non-narrative texts using a narrative framework for comprehension.
Keywords: Default Processing, Instructions before Reading, Narrative Processing Competence, Narrative Stance, Receptive Processes Across Modalities
Dr. Moyra Sweetnam Evans
Lecturer, Linguistics Programme, University of Otago
Ha Rim Lee
Student, Linguistics Programme, University of Otago