How to Think Like a Disciplinarian disciplinarian: one who follows a specific branch of learning
Think Like a Sociologist • Interested in how the characters interactwith their society. • For example, in “All Summer in a Day”, a sociologist might say that Margot’s lack of interactions with her peers caused the terrible incident where she was locked in the closet. A sociologist would think about how Margot acted around her classmates before this occurred.
Think Like a Sociologist • A sociologist would ask: • How do the characters in this novel relate to one another? • Do the characters participate in any social groups? Do they attend schools, meetings, churches, etc? • What institutions/groups/characters (authority figures, leaders, organizations) have control over the characters? • Are the characters in this story able to make their own decisions? • Are they a part of the “normal” society, or are they considered outsiders or a “different” class? • Do people in this novel act like the people in our own society?
Think Like a Linguist • A linguist is practicing the strategy of “analyzing author’s craft.” • The author has chosen specific language for specific characters or groups of characters. It is not an accident that each character speaks in the way he/she does. It is important to identify important vocabulary specific to the novel, and to compare their speech to ours. • For example, the author uses specific terms like “balancee” and “arabesque” in “Unbalanced” to show that they are very advanced ballet dancers.
Think Like a Linguist • A linguist would ask: • What specific language is being used by the characters in this novel, and why is this language used? • How does their language shape the character’s tone (attitude towards a specific subject or topic)? • What does their tone reveal about the character? • What does their language show and/or imply about their social status, background, age, society, perspective, values, etc.? Are they using formal speech or slang? • Are there any important terms or vocabulary someone would need to learn in order to understand this character or society in the novel? • How is their language similar or different from the language we use in daily speech? Make a comparison between their words and ours.
Think like a Philosopher • A philosopher is digging deep into the text and analyzing ethical beliefs (views about what is right and wrong). • A philosopher would try to answer deep questions about beliefs, religion, love, etc. from either a character’s perspective, or from the society as a whole. • For example, a philosopher would think about Monk’s actions in “Pricilla and the Wimps”, and suggest that it is wrong for Monk to take kids’ lunch money. A philosopher might also suggest that it is wrong for Priscilla to fight back and leave Monk stuffed away in the locker. Or, another might say that it was right for Priscilla to stand up for her friend.
Think like a Philosopher • A philosopher would ask: • What does each character believe—about fate, life, religion, education, purpose, family, etc.? • Do characters agree with the way the world is structured? • What is the biggest challenge each character faces? • What is each character’s “purpose” in life (and maybe in the novel)? • What is your view of the society? Do you share any of the beliefs of the society or of particular characters? If so, which beliefs? Are you shocked by the society? Is there anything that you view as wrong?
Think Like a Psychologist • A psychologist is analyzing a specific character’s innermost thoughts and feelings about themselves in relation to others. Consider the “man vs. self” and/or “man vs. man” conflicts to fully understand a well-rounded idea about a character. • For example, a psychologist would think about the story “Unbalanced” and want to know why Carla wanted to hurt Linda. A psychologist would notice that jealousy causes Carla to harm Linda, since she wants to be on top in the dance studio. A psychologist might also suggest that Carla is insecure about herself and her dancing capabilities, which motivates her to hurt Linda.
Think Like a Psychologist • A psychologist would ask: • What behaviors do you notice among the characters in the novel? • How do their emotional states affect how they view themselves and others? • How do characters view their own behavior? • How do characters view their relationships with others? • What hidden emotional needs cause a certain character to behave or make decisions in the way he/she does? • How would you relate to this character? If you could ask a character to change his/her beliefs or actions, would you? Which ones?
Think Like a Geographer • A geographer is taking a careful look at the setting. How has the author used climate, weather, landmass, animals, plants, etc. to influence the characters? A geographer would pick up hints from the author and synthesize (put together) these details with the rest of the novel to make conclusions about why the setting is important to the story. • For example, a geographer would notice how the rain affects Margot’s mood in the story “All Summer in a Day”, and how the sun affects her classmates as well.
Think Like a Geographer • A geographer would ask: • How are the characters in the novel influenced by geography (climate, weather, animals, etc.)? • Where are the characters located throughout the story? How does each specific location impact the way people act in the novel? • What impact does the climate have on the society? Are they dealing with unusual weather patterns or anything else that limits their ability to live? • Do animals or plants have any impact on this society? Are there any plants and animals represented in this world? • Consider the impact that geography has on your own life. Does California’s weather, land, terrain, etc. impact the way you live your life? Can you make any connections with characters in the novel based on the way your life is changed or limited by geography?
Think Like an Economist • The economist is analyzing the novel in a very specific way: how does a character’s amount of resources affect their life? Money can be power. How can money (or lack of it) change a character’s path? How does the economy determine the life that each character is allowed to live? • For example, an economist might suggest that Carla from “Unbalanced” was motivated to hurt Linda because she wanted to make more money by becoming a principal dancer in the company.
Think Like an Economist • An economist would ask: • How is money viewed by the characters in this novel? (Is it a good or bad thing?) • Does the average person in this society have a lot of money or very little? • How do people in this society usually earn money? How do specific characters earn money? • Do you see any inequalities (unfairness) based on wealth? Is the society in the novel divided into rich and poor or other social groupings? • Do people in this novel seem to be materialistic, meaning they value material possessions over other important things? Do they think objects are more important than people? • Are goods and services expensive or inexpensive? Can characters generally afford what they need to live? If not, why not? • How is the economy (or certain aspects of the economy) similar to ours today? Consider how money affects the lives of individuals in the novel. Does money control your life in a similar way?