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This article proposes to extend the revised transactional theory of reading that I introduced to JBW readers in 2012. That revised theory, building on Rosenblatt’s distinction between efferent and aesthetic reading, described a third reading stance I named “deferent” to designate the tendency of struggling student readers to defer their interpretations of texts to classmates or teachers deemed to have superior skill or authority. This new essay proposes a fourth, “anesthetic” stance of reading that focuses on counterproductive emotions struggling readers and writers feel that cause them to adopt a deferent stance of reading. This article also examines the dispositions necessary for successful reading and writing events, explores ways in which struggling readers distort those dispositions when reading deferently and anesthetically, and describes an instructional strategy that invites students to aesthetically experience texts in order to avoid the deferent and anesthetic stances. The article concludes with sample writing/reflections from a single case study that is representative of students at Kingsborough Community College and that demonstrates how students can learn to navigate Rosenblatt’s efferent-aesthetic continuum.



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