Listening to the Readers of "Canada Reads"

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

“Reading Lessons” examines the reading practices promoted on-air by the CBC radio 1 series “Canada Reads,” those adopted by readers participating through book group discussions and on-line bulletin boards, and those of academic commentators (in print, online, in/outside the classroom). Redefining “response” as “use,” this essay attempts to steer a course between the hermeneutic and affective definitions of reading favoured by reader-response theorists (e.g. Murray; Price). I argue that, on-air, “Canada Reads” frequently favours interpretive practices shaped by canonical aesthetics and formalist hermeneutics. However, off-air readers exhibit both resistance to and conformity with the on-air reading practices, while negotiating with the codes of various media. Further, between the first and fourth series of “Canada Reads” (2002-2005), there was a gradual shift on-air towards the vernacular reading practices and social dynamics common in many face-to-face book groups. If popular reading cultures and media formats are re-shaping the use of Canadian Literature, literary scholars should be taking those cultural formations seriously. Therefore, this essay highlights some of the lessons to be learned from listening to non-professional readers engaging with the “game” of “Canada Reads” as a means of contributing towards a “re-thinking” of Canadian literary studies and its possible futures.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-34
Number of pages24
JournalCanadian Literature
Volume193
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2007