Handbook of Reading Research - Vol. 3

Handbook of Reading Research - Vol. 3

Handbook of Reading Research - Vol. 3

Handbook of Reading Research - Vol. 3

Synopsis

In Volume III, as in Volumes I and II, the classic topics of reading are included--from vocabulary and comprehension to reading instruction in the classroom--and, in addition, each contributor was asked to include a brief history that chronicles the legacies within each of the volume's many topics. However, on the whole, Volume III is not about tradition. Rather, it explores the verges of reading research between the time Volume II was published in 1991 and the research conducted after this date. The editors identified two broad themes as representing the myriad of verges that have emerged since Volumes I and II were published: (1) broadening the definition of reading, and (2) broadening the reading research program. The particulars of these new themes and topics are addressed.

Excerpt

Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the grander view?

—Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862)

In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner completed his momentous work, The Significance of the Frontier in American History. In this work, he re-directed historians' attention away from the genealogy-ridden chronicles of the Atlantic seaboard and refocused their attention on men and women taming the new western frontier. Coupled with Horace Greeley's dictum of “Go West, young man, ” Turner sparked our imagination in what he called the “the hither edge of free land.”

This “hither edge” represented what Daniel Boorstin (1987) called a “verge, ” i.e., a “place of encounter between something and something else” (p. xv). Boorstin noted that America's history has been much more than just the verge between Turner's east and west; rather it has been a broad succession of verges:

America (has always been) a land of verges—all sorts of verges, between kinds of landscape or seascape, between stages of civilization, between ways of thought and ways of life. During our first centuries we experienced more different kinds of verges, and more extensive and more vivid verges, than any other great modern nation. The long Atlantic coast, where early colonial settlements flourished was, of course, a verge between the advanced European civilization and the stone-age culture of the American Indians, between people and wilderness. …

As cities became sprinkled around the continent, each was a new verge between the ways of the city and those of the countryside. As immigrants poured in from Ireland, Germany, and Italy, from Africa and Asia, each group created new verges between their imported ways and the imported ways of their neighbors and the new-grown ways of the New World. Each immigrant himself lived the verge encounter between another nation's ways of thinking, feeling, speaking, and living and the American ways. (xv–xvi)

It was Alexis de Tocqueville (1872) who noted that America's appreciation for verges was not shared by its European counterparts. At the time of his observations, the national pride of the English, French, Germans, and Italians was rooted in the grandeur of their homogeneous traditions rather than in the heterogeneous contradictions posed by proliferating verges. For these countries, national vitality was based on preserving the best of the rich past rather than pursuing the novelty of the unknown.

In contrast, America, with hardly any historical past (at least compared to that of Europe's), has always been different. Its vitality has largely been in its verges—in its . . .

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