Responding to Literature: Forming Your Point of View

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  • 0:01 Point of View
  • 0:58 Pre-Reading
  • 2:46 During Reading
  • 5:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

In order to form a supported point of view on a piece of literature, you must be able to analyze and synthesize. Watch this video lesson to learn a few ways to hone those skills.

Point of View

Point of View can refer to much more than just the perspective from which a story is told. When responding to literature, forming your point of view means using the text to develop a personal opinion on the topic. A huge part of studying literature is forming your point of view, or responding personally to the piece.

In order to be able to form a sound point of view in response to literature, you must be able to analyze the text, which means to break down and examine the individual parts. In addition, you must also be able to synthesize, which means to put all the information together and draw conclusions. In order to form a supported opinion, or point of view, on any topic in literature, you must analyze and synthesize the details and content of the text. The rest of this lesson will describe various activities to help analyze and synthesize literature with a focus on forming your point of view.

Pre-Reading

Before even beginning to read any type of literature, use pre-reading methods to help you begin to analyze. First of all, scan the text by looking at titles, subtitles, pictures, and illustrations. These things help you to become ready for the topic and allow you to begin forming your opinion.

For example, looking at the cover of the novel A Tale of Two Cities, you will most likely see a picture depicting a fierce battle in dirt streets. Analyzing that picture will tap into your previous experience or opinions of war. Since the story revolves around the French Revolution, your previous views on war will have an effect on the story.

Another pre-reading method can be to create a KWL chart. This chart consists of three columns, the first is 'K' for what you 'know,' the second is 'W' for what you 'want to know,' and the last is 'L' for what you have 'learned.' Fill in the K and W columns before reading the novel. Keep in mind, you will be asked to form your own opinion after the reading, so it is best to include your opinions in these columns.

For example, in the making of a KWL chart for A Tale of Two Cities, add that you believe the French Revolution was beneficial since it allowed a new government to overrule the oppressive monarchy. You can even add in your opinions on the American Revolution, since it similarly brought on a new government to override the English king. This opinion can be revisited after reading is completed when you fill in the L column to see if your opinion has changed. The information on a KWL chart can be used in many ways to form an opinion.

During Reading

It is also important to think about forming your point of view during the reading. Most analysis of literature occurs as you read. You may be able to only synthesize after the reading is complete, but analysis must be a continuous process. You want to be able to break down the plot and story details to store for later use.

The best way to be sure to analyze while you read is to make frequent pauses and write down your thoughts. Using A Tale of Two Cities as an example, a great strategy can be to keep a running chart as you read. On one side, you can add in reasons why the French Revolution needed to happen, and on the other, add in the negative and positive consequences from it. In the end, you can use these thoughts to form your final point of view on the morality of the revolution. These written thoughts can come in a wide variety of forms: a book journal, bulleted lists, study guide questions; all of these will allow you to continuously revisit not only the events of the novel, but also your thoughts on it.

After Reading

Pre-reading and during-reading activities are important, but you shouldn't form your true point of view until after the reading is finished. Thus, after finished reading A Tale of Two Cities, form your final point of view or perspective on the topic.

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