Critical Reading

Reading a Text--Some Definitions

You might think that reading a text means curling up with a good book, or forcing yourself to study a textbook. Actually, reading a text can mean much more. First of all, let's define the two terms of interest here--"reading" and "text."

What Counts as Reading?

Reading is something we do with books and other print materials, certainly, but we also read things like the sky when we want to know what the weather is doing, someone's expression or body language when we want to know what someone is thinking or feeling, or an unpredictable situation so we'll know what the best course of action is. As well as reading to gather information, "reading" can mean such diverse things as interpreting, analyzing, or attempting to make predictions.

What Counts as a Text?

When we think of a text, we may think of words in print, but a text can be anything from a road map to a movie. Some have expanded the meaning of "text" to include anything that can be read, interpreted or analyzed. So a painting can be a text to interpret for some meaning it holds, and a mall can be a text to be analyzed to find out how modern Americans behave in their free time.

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Introduction