Multiplicity of Meaning

As I’m reflecting on the assigned readings for this post, my head is spinning in an attempt to detangle new threads of information into a recognizable fabric on the screen before me. I’ve always been in wonderment of change, how things transform into something new, like the color of a leaf, my grandmother’s skin, my sister’s interest in boys, and my college major. English secondary education is hopefully my last of many major changes in the past year and a half. What really captivated me in today’s reading was its focus on the multiplicity of meaning. The question we should ask of a text we read, Nealon and Giroux write, is no longer “what did the author really mean?” but rather “how does this text produce meanings?” (pg 18) Still today, I find myself sliding back into preconditioned habits, looking for an author’s message or some kind of infallible truth. It is becoming more clear to me now that we must really investigate a text and consider the plethora of meanings that can be derived from it in order to produce a fair understanding of it.

Writing is born in the words of people who live in a society ruled by laws and labels, otherwise known as “sign systems” by linguists. (pg 26) The ways in which we associate with the world and make sense of ourselves is inevitably defined by what surrounds us. I’ve discussed what Nealon and Giroux call the “self” and the “subject” in other diciplines before. When I was a sociology major, we explored the sociological imagination, a term defining the vivid awareness of the relationship between personal experience and wider society. In my psychology classes, we discussed the age-old debate of nature vs. nurture, whether the self (DNA) or the subject (experiences and environment) have more influence on one’s development. At the end of the day there is no such thing as an unrestrained self, free from social contexts. (pg 39)

Soo…it’s important to view reading as a process, considering the “various contexts in which a piece of writing is produced, read, circulated, and evaluated.” (p. 28) After all, meaning is relative and capricious- sometimes a leaf looks more beautiful wearing its red shades and my decision to study English education is simply a negotiated destination in response to signs I have encountered. Now, I truly understand what the authors mean when they write that reading is a privileged metaphor for perception or experience itself. (pg 22)

One Response to Multiplicity of Meaning

  1. Prof VZ January 24, 2016 at 10:58 am #

    Great post! The last point you note, which draws a connection between the construction of meaning in the reading of a text and the creation of meaning as we negotiation the constrains in our individual lives, is one of my favorites from the Theory Toolbox. I like that it kind of reminded you, once again, to, as you write, “really investigate a text and consider the plethora of meanings that can be derived from it in order to produce a fair understanding of it.” And then to apply that same sense of attention to your own life.

    A broader note on the post: try to include other media (images, links, etc) when relevant or when they would just make the post a bit more dynamic. Linking to a page that works through or defines what you call the “sociological imagination” for example would have been great.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes