Lenses: An
Introduction to Critical
• “Often literary theories change our views
of a work of literature by proposing new
distinctions or new categories for looking
at the work. This is a bit like putting on a
new set of glasses: suddenly you see
things more clearly.” -- Stephen
• “Literary theory functioned in my
education as a prism, which I could turn
to refract different spectral patterns of
language use in a text, as one does
daylight. Turn the prism this way, and
one pattern emerges; turn it that way,
and another pattern configures.” -Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
• “Literary theory is at its best when it
helps us realize what we are really doing
when we study literature” -- Stephen
• “The purpose of teaching literary theory
at the secondary level is not to turn
adolescents into critical theorists; rather,
it is to encourage adolescents to inhabit
theories comfortably enough to construct
their own readings and to learn to
appreciate the power of multiple
-- Deborah
Word to Read the
• “When we teach theory, we are, more
than anything else perhaps, naming what
it is that we naturally do.” -- Deborah
• “All our regular institutional and social
practices, including our social rituals and
ceremonies, are texts to be read and
interpreted.” -- Jack Thomson
• “It is impossible to carry out my literacy
work or to understand literacy ... by
divorcing the reading of the word from
the reading of the world.” -- Paulo Freire
• “Students need to learn to read the world
around them in order to function as
literate participants in an increasingly
complex society.”-- Deborah Appleman