The Role of the Reader

Ref: C2341093

Our reactions to and discussions of books are all-important in book groups, yet few courses focus explicitly on the role of the reader. The course will explore such questions as: does the text create the reader or does the reader create the text? What is involved in reading a piece of writing as ‘literature’? On what basis do we decide that one interpretation of a literary text is ‘better’ than another? We will pursue these questions through a range of short stories and some poems.

Course aim

We will examine a range of short stories and some poems, exploring what the role of the reader is in making sense of texts, and how texts create different kinds of reader.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • No skills or experience are needed, just an interest in literature and reading, and a willingness to explore ideas.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • identify different kinds of reader and reading experience (passive, active, creative, defensive, etc)
  • discuss and comment on the consequences of reading texts as ‘literature’
  • select passages for close reading, which illustrate key points and ideas
  • participate in readings, presentations, discussions and debate with others
  • relate the ways in which individual readers read to wider social, political and cultural contexts

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Activities may include tutor presentation, small group work, working in pairs, class discussions, short tasks and research.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • You will need to borrow or purchase the following anthology of short stories: The Penguin Book of the British Story: 2: from P. G. Wodehouse to Zadie Smith, ed. Philip Hensher (Penguin, 2016)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • No pre-reading or pre-course work is required, but you could begin reading some of the stories in the anthology.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full course information sheet

The Role of the Reader


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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