Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism: Using Holland’s DEFT Model as a Reader Response Tool in the Language Classroom
Language students tend to struggle with literature because they find psychological and socio-cultural implications embedded in literary texts difficult to understand and discuss (Kramsch, 1996). This paper suggests that psychoanalytic literary criticism may offer a reading framework that could mitigate the struggle and allow for a deeper level of personal and social exploration of literary works. The DEFT model (Defense, Expectations, Fantasy and Transformation), as one type of reader-response approach to reading that draws on the psychoanalytic framework, might make the reading of literature easier because of its potential to offer to students strategies for finding a point of entry into the text. According to DEFT, the inability to find a point of entry into a new reading may be one of the reasons for finding a literary piece difficult, for ‘disliking’ or outright rejecting it. This qualitative study shows how the DEFT approach, originally created for native speakers but thus far little researched in relationship to non-native speakers, can be used to facilitate the reading of literary works in a language course.
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