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Keywords:

  • Twitter;
  • social media;
  • pedagogy;
  • literary theory;
  • reader-response theory;
  • reader-oriented criticism

Abstract

Twitter offers an engaging way to introduce students to reader-oriented interpretation of the Bible. The exercise described here introduces students to the idea that the reader has a role in the production of a text's meaning, which thus varies from reader to reader. Twitter enables us to capture the real-time thoughts of a variety of respondents to the text of Mark as it is read aloud. Students can concretely observe the effects of particular textual moments on individual respondents as well as analyze their general interpretive stances with regard to the text as a whole. Students come to grasp that the meaning of the text varies depending on the reader, setting the stage for more complex theoretical discussion of reader-response theory, the reader's role in the production of meaning, the adjudication of “allowed” and “disallowed” interpretations, and the appropriateness of “reader-response” criticisms for texts that were composed to be encountered orally.