IJSSH 2012 Vol.2(6): 565-568 ISSN: 2010-3646
DOI: 10.7763/IJSSH.2012.V2.173

Conceptualising Literary Responses of L2 Readers: An Exploratory Study

Khairul Husna Abdul Kadir, Tengku Nor Rizan Tengku Mohamad Maasum, and RavichandranVengadasamy

Abstract—This paper discusses the Foregrounding Theory and Transactional Theory of Literary Reading and their application in analysing and conceptualising literary responses of L2 readers from a secondary school in Malaysia. Exploratory in nature, this study aims to identify the response types evoked in L2 readers while reading a narrative text in addition to investigating the effect of proficiency levels on completing identification task and written comments. Twenty-four participants aged sixteen, were instructed to read a story, identify the foregrounded features in the text followed by writing comments about the story and their reading experience. In the identification task, high proficient participants performed better in identifying foregrounded features in the story (metaphor, personification, repetition). With regard to the written responses, most participants, regardless of proficiency levels, responded primarily to the story world (character, event or setting) especially through empathy with the main character and reflection on the event in the story. In sum, overall findings indicate that responses of the L2 readers were primarily motivated by the narrative aspects (empathy with the main character and reflection on the story events) rather than evoked by the aesthetic component of the text (literary devices). Hence this study conceptualises literary responses of the participants to be predominantly narrative- rather than aesthetically–oriented.

Index Terms—Literary response, L2 readers, foregrounding theory, transactional theory.

Khairul Husna Abdul Kadir is with the National University of Malaysia. She has 16 years of experience in teaching English Language and Literature at a secondary school in Malaysia. Her area of research covers reading in ESL context, reading literary texts, reader response theory, stylistics and cognitive poetics (e-mail: khairulhusna@hotmail.com).
Tengku Nor Rizan Tengku Mohamad Maasum is with the National University of Malaysia with expertise in Applied Linguistics and Reading in ESL (e-mail: tntm@ukm.edu).
Ravichandran Vengadasamy is with the National University of Malaysia specialising in Cognitive Stylistics and Malaysian Literature in English (e-mail: ravicv@ukm.edu).

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Cite: Khairul Husna Abdul Kadir, Tengku Nor Rizan Tengku Mohamad Maasum, and Ravichandran Vengadasamy, "Conceptualising Literary Responses of L2 Readers: An Exploratory Study," International Journal of Social Science and Humanity vol. 2, no. 6, pp. 565-568, 2012.

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