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Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents, Second Edition (Language & Literacy Series) (Language and Literacy) Second Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807748923
ISBN-10: 0807748927
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Deborah Appleman is Professor of Educational Studies at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.
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Product Details

  • Series: Language and Literacy
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Teachers College Press; Second edition (July 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807748927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807748923
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Book Review Appleman, Deborah. Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents. New York: Teachers College Press, 2000. Deborah Appleman's book, Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents, recently published by the National Council of Teachers of English and Teacher's College Press, is a MUST read for all English educators and all teachers of high school literature classes. Appleman not only envisions a new way of teaching high school literature, she shows the reader (with practical classroom activities) HOW this is possible. Appleman's first line, "I'm stubborn" (xiii), grabbed my immediate attention. As a friend of Deborah's, I agreed and read on. What I found was not a stubborn approach to teaching literature, but rather a wonderful, open-minded, newly articulated approach to the teaching of literary theory in high school. Granted, Appleman might need to stubbornly insist that naysayers, those who say it can't be done in high school, hear her out, but by mid-point in the book, even those people will be considering the possibilities. In Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescent Appleman defines reader response, Marxist and feminist criticism, and deconstruction theory in an understandable manner. Within each chapter Appleman weaves together, through classroom vignettes, literary theory and literature. Appleman explains how the application of literary theory in high school provides students with an interpretive repertoire which enlarges their view of the world. This approach empowers students to think "beyond the boundaries of their own comfortable world" (63) and to "foster a knowledge of others" (29).Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mastering Critical theory on a college level is sufficiently imposing so that to learn it on a high school level is seen as even more so. In CRITICAL ENCOUNTERS IN HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH, Deborah Applebaum proves that the teaching of it and the learning of it need not be the insurmountable obstacle that many a harried college student often perceives it to be. Applebaum writes this text for the high school teacher who may not know much more theory than the very students whom she hopes to teach. Until recently, college courses in theory were not required for English majors and even for those who have taken a course or two, this book is a helpful reminder as to what theory is, how to apply it, and perhaps even more importantly, how to justify teaching it to teenagers who already groan under what they will undoubtedly see as simply one more "hard" subject to master in their senior year.

The first chapter, "The Case for Critical Theory in the Classroom," is teacher-oriented in that Applebaum anticipates potential pitfalls for the teacher who wishes to include critical theory in a typical high school curriculum. She acknowledges that there is "tension between presenting literature as cultural artifacts...for those who favor a more progressive approach to education." This tension she suggests can be reduced by forthrightly examining "our notions of what literacy is, of what students should read, and of what it means to read well." Critical theory she sees as the lever by which all this may be done.
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Format: Paperback
Like Wiggins' book on Essential Questions,Understanding By Design Expanded 2nd Edition Critical Encounters is a book that has changed my approach to teaching. Unlike Understanding by Design, this one applies directly to my role as an English teacher.

There are so few books out there on methodology that combine theory and practice the way that Appleman's book does. It's worth the price for this alone. I agree with another reviewer about the over-emphasis on student work examples and anecdotes (I skimmed over many of these), but the practical strategies and lessons to use with high school English students are invaluable. Most get the students involved and doing the work. These strategies require students to think about what they read and to respond to what they read critically.

If you're tired of the typical Reader-Response papers you've been requiring and/or receiving from students who are capable of much deeper thinking, buy this book!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this book to English teachers who are looking for ways to actively engage students and challenge them by keeping them at the higher end of Blooms Taxonomy. If we want students to be at the higher end of the taxonomy, we need to teach them about the taxonomy as Appleman simply points out. I am a firm believer in making metacognition transparent in the classroom. This book explains why transparency is important in helping students understand what it is that they are being asked to do in their English class, and the book explains why it is important to make students aware of literacy theory. Appleman provides a straightforward way to teach literacy theory that is comprehensible to students. Thanks, Deborah Appleman.
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