Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Stanford research”

Jane Austen: Smart Reading


If you are here it’s because the Jane Austen in the title tweaked your interest, right? Well, beyond being one of THE best writers in the literary canonical group of authors listed in the universal TBR list, she is actually a teacher. Actually, Stanford neurobiologists and English professor Natalie Phillips picked her book Mansfield Park to determine a connection between critical reading and brain activation patterns. (source: Luminosity)

Cover of "Mansfield Park (1999)"

Cover of Mansfield Park (1999)

The procedure went like this: an MRI scanned the brains of 18 participants as they read MP. These weren’t ordinary students, no struggling juniors or seniors assigned Janey as an honors read; no, these were PhD candidates. The reason being the researchers wanted to make sure close reading, the reading for analysis, was properly done. Going for a doctorate would probably ensure smarter reading practices. Participants read for “fun,” that is, casually read and then they were asked to close read.

Results: critical reading increased bloodflow throughout the brain, especially to the prefrontal cortex, which is considered to be the center of thoughts and actions and our social behavior.

Implications: close reading, the method of critically studying a text, indicates a connection between shaping and shifting cognition

My Understanding: Sheesh! I’ve been doing this for years. “Hey kids, read this and let’s figure out what it means.” Oh yea, this is what Common Core State Standards is all about–we give students higher level reading material and ask them to think about what they are reading. Like I said *I’ve been doing this for years*.

Okay, do I get my honorary PhD now?

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