Holistic Perception in Literature

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

John R. Murray


This thesis considers the importance of learning how to read more holistically a novel written in a foreign language. The author draws upon research and his own teaching experience to construct the learning process which is outlined and discussed in the thesis. The processes are categorized into three activities that are dependent upon one another. The first set of activities, the author refers to is paedonomics, the second is cultural priming; and the third, collective creativity. Each of these major activities is considered an integral part of holistic perception, defined as a means of using all the senses to respond to and experience phenomena. Paedonomics is a term coined by the author to refer to a wide range of activities that are explored and discussed. The author uses these activities to help students get into a playful relaxed, and meaningful mode for learning. Paedonomics includes such activities as guided imagery, visualization, progressive relaxation, aromatherapy, uses of music, and mindmapping. These activities are not done in vacuo but are done in conjunction with cultural priming and collective creativity. Cultural priming is an activity in which students are presented with brief representative creative works from the sixteenth century. Through collective dialogue, they perceive the quintessence of that historical period and through induction find similarities and differences between those times and the contemporary scene. The collective creativity phase of the process allows the students, through collective dialogue, to create an original work based on their holistic perception of a novel and its times. In their creative efforts, the groups translate the novel's characters and setting to their own modern period. This permits them to perceive in even sharper focus their own times as well as their individual and collective commonalties and differences. This applies not only to historical people and times but also to their own contemporary society. In this thesis, the author demonstrates how the three-part process of holistic perception is applied to exploring the sixteenth century Spanish novel, Lazarillo de Tormes. Through paedonomics and cultural priming, students experience the sixteenth century Spanish novel. Lazarillo de Tormes. Through paedonomics and cultural priming, students experience the sixteenth century. Through collective dialogue, they infer that the sixteenth century has many elements in common with the contemporary one. For this reason, it serves as a springboard for students to individually and collectively respond to and experience their own times. It also serves as a vehicle for them to perceive an historical period with more empathy and less historical stereotyping. Students begin to perceive on various levels their own role and importance in the chain of life starting in pre-historic times.


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