While many literary works discuss objectively, absolutely, and in terms of how the author developed the ideas on the page, criticism of reader reaction focuses on the reader and how he or she perceives the literary work. In a sense, this results in the text no longer existing on its own – for example on the physical pages of a book – and instead assumes that the text-only exists when it is read. This theory makes literary works more of performance art, where the act of the reader reading and interpreting the text is the performance. Critical theorists develop this approach further, taking into account the nature of the reader and what he or she brings to the text, as well as the different “lenses” Buy Essay Online best essay writing company.

Basic Beliefs 

In reader criticism, the act of reading is like a dialogue between the reader and the text, which only has meaning if both come into conversation with each other. It defines the role of the text from being an independent object into something that can only exist when to read and interacting with the reader’s mind. In this way, the reader is not a passive recipient of the text but takes an active role. The text then serves as a catalyst to evoke memories and thoughts in the reader, allowing them to relate the text to personal experiences and thus fill in the gaps left by the text. This allows theorists to explain why people can have different reactions and interpretations of the same text.

This form of criticism even goes so far as to examine the role of individual words and phrases in the text in interacting with the reader. The sounds and shapes that create words, or even how they are pronounced or spoken by the reader, can significantly change the meaning of the text, it is suggested. Some critics of reader reaction go so far as to analyze a text sentence by sentence to determine how much of the reading experience is predetermined, and then to analyze how each reader’s experience alters that original meaning.

Approaches Within Reader-Response Criticism

The critique of reader reaction begins with what formalist literary criticism has called the “affective fallacy” – that the reader’s reaction is relevant to understanding a text – and uses it as a focus to approach a literary work. Within this school of critical theory, however, there are different approaches; some look at the work from the perspective of the individual reader, while others focus on how groups or communities view the text. What matters to these schools of criticism is what the text does to the reader, and not necessarily the work itself, the author’s intention, or the social, political, or cultural context in which it was written.

The label “reader-centric criticism” has become popular because readers’ experiences and expectations often change over time. In addition, a reader may approach the text from different angles or lenses. That is, the reader can see the value of their own personal answer while also analyzing the text using a different critical approach.

Individual readers

Louise Rosenblatt is generally credited with formally introducing the idea that the reader’s experience and interaction with the text create true meaning. This idea evolved into what became known as transactional reader reaction criticism. Rosenblatt argued that while the reader is guided by the author’s ideas and words, ultimately it is each individual reader’s experience of reading the work that actually gives it meaning. Because each person brings unique knowledge and beliefs to the reading transaction, the text will mean different things to different people. It is this meaning—the reader’s meaning—that should be evaluated, rather than just looking at the author’s text in a vacuum.

Other critics focus on how the reader’s mind relates to the text, known as psychological reader reaction criticism. The reader is seen as a psychological subject who can be examined based on their unconscious drives, which surface through their reaction to a text. Reading the text can become almost a therapeutic experience for the reader as the connections he or she makes reveal truths about his or her personality.

Psychological reader reaction criticism has in many ways fueled another similar theory – subjective reader reaction criticism – which takes the personal, psychological component even further. In this theory, it is believed that the reader’s interpretation of a text is primarily influenced by personal and psychological needs, rather than being guided by the text. Each reading is intended to bring psychological symptoms to the surface from which the reader can find their own unconscious motives.

The unified reader

Other schools of reader-reaction criticism regard the reader not as an individual but as a theoretical reader. The “implicit reader”, an idea of ​​Wolfgang Iser, is, for example, the reader required for the text – the reader who the author imagines when writing and for whom he writes. This reader is guided by the text that contains gaps that the reader determines to fill in, explain, and make connections within the text. The reader ultimately creates meaning based not only on what is written in the text but on what the text provoked in him or her. The theorist Stanley Fish introduced the “informed reader” who brings prior, shared knowledge into the experience of reading.

Social reader reaction Social Reader-Response Criticism focuses on “communities of interpretation” —groups

who share common beliefs and values—and how these groups employ specific strategies that affect both the text and their reading behavior. It is the group that then determines what an acceptable interpretation of the text is, where the meaning is what the group says it is. A book club or group of college students, for example, will generally agree on the ultimate meaning of a text-based on their own cultural and group beliefs.

As an extension of social theory, these like-minded groups can also view and view the text from different angles. If the group finds that certain elements are more important than others, they can examine the text from that particular point of view or lens. Feminist literary critics, for example, may focus on the feminine elements of a piece of writing, while new historians focus on the culture and era in which the text is being read.

Arguments against criticism of reader reactions in general

It is often argued that criticism of reader reactions validates any interpretation of a text and can thereby devalue the content of the text. Others argue that the text is completely ignored, buy essay online cheap or that it is impossible to properly interpret a text without considering the culture or era in which it was written. In addition, it is to be criticized that these theories do not allow at all to expand the knowledge and experience of the reader through the text.


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