In this paper, I argue that it would be pedagogically useful to investigate the psychological processes which lead readers to like and dislike texts, and I offer an initial set of hypotheses on the pleasures of reading which can be gleaned from Roland Barthes’s short monograph, The Pleasure of the Text. I begin by briefly addressing the origins of this research before I discuss the concept of writing “expertise” as it has been conceptualized by other fields of writing research. I argue that understanding those factors which lead different audiences to like or dislike texts as they read could help us to discern pedagogical goals that could increase our students’ expertise in the eyes of those audiences. In describing Barthes’s theory of pleasure, I hypothesize (1) that there are likely a number of different factors that influence pleasure, (2) that one factor probably has to do with the degree to which a reader feels as though they understand a text, and (3) that another factor has to do with the degree to which a reader feels as though their inability to understand a text is somehow “meaningful” or “significant.” Once I finish describing Barthes’s theory of pleasure, I then discuss a number of possible directions for further research as well as a number of the pedagogical implications of Barthes’s work if his theories turn out to be at least partially correct. Finally, I conclude with some remarks which explore how this research complements existing thinking within creative writing studies and literary studies.
Syrewicz, C. Connor
"Toward an Erotics of Reading: Three Hypotheses on Pleasure from Barthes's "The Pleasure of the Text","
Journal of Creative Writing Studies: Vol. 6
, Article 6.
Available at: https://scholarworks.rit.edu/jcws/vol6/iss1/6