The Role of Belief Systems in Authors’ and Readers’ Constructions of Texts
This chapter describes how the ideologies of both authors and readers influence what they find interesting, what they pay attention to, what meanings they construct, and what evaluations they make. It focuses on the kinds of relationships, or stances, that might be said to exist between a reader and a text. The role of beliefs in comprehension and learning has started to come under careful scrutiny. Beliefs are recognized as part of the legitimate meaning-making process, in what Jerome Bruner has called a “renewed cognitive revolution.” As cultural and political constructions by authors, texts reflect authors’ assumptions, beliefs, commitments, attitudes, and values. The chapter examines how an ideological text—specifically, the PBS documentary on the causes of the U. S. Civil War—might be “read” by individuals who vary in background knowledge, experience, interest, and beliefs—in other words, by people with different ideologies.