Writing About Readers: Applying Reader Response Theory (2023)

Learning objectives

  1. Understand reader response theory, which focuses on the reader's reading experience.
  2. Apply the reader's response methodology to literary works.
  3. Participate in the writing process of a fellow writer, including peer review.
  4. Review and rate a variety of reader response articles written by fellow writers.
  5. Write and proofread a reader response article about a literary work.

6.1Literary snapshot:Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll, as we discovered in previous chapters, is most famous for two books:Alice in Wonderland(1865) mithrough the looking glass(1872). These books follow the adventures of 7-year-old Alice, who falls down a rabbit hole (Wonderland) and enters a magic mirror (Mirror), entering a world of mindless imagination. If you haven't read these classic books yet, or want to read them again, you can access them at the following links:



Alice is challenged to understand a seemingly absurd world inhabited by strange creatures. Throughout her adventures, Alice tries to apply logic to her experiences; in other words, Alice tries to interpret and find meaning in Wonderland and Looking-Glass Land.

Alice acts as a literary critic. In the previous chapters, you became like Alice, that is, you learned about a literary theory and applied that theory when analyzing a literary work. This chapter asks her to reimagine her role as a literary critic: she will be asked to analyze not only the text but also the role of the reader in the construction of meaning. In a way, you will be asked to be very much like Alice, trying to discover her reading experience as she immerses herself in a literary creation.

Our scene comes from Chapter 10, “The Lobster Gang” inWonderland:

"Get up and repeat"'is the voice of the lazy’” said the Gryphon.

"How do creatures rule over someone and make him repeat lessons!" Alice thought; "I'd better be at school right away." However, she got up and began to repeat it, but her head was so full of the Lobster Gang that she hardly knew what she was saying, and her words came out very strange:

“It's the voice of Lobster; I heard him declare,

You made me too dark, I must sweeten my hair.

Like a duck with his eyelids, so is he with his nose

Cut out the belt and buttons and open the fingers.

When the sands are dry, he is as gay as a lark,

And he will speak contemptuously of the Shark:

But when the tide comes in and the sharks are around,

His voice has a shy, shaky sound."

"That's different from what I used to say when I was a kid," said the Gryphon.

"Well, I never heard that before," said the Mock Turtle; "but it seems unusual nonsense."

Alice didn't say anything; she sat with her face in her hands, wondering if something was going to happen to her.foreverhappen again naturally.

"I would like you to explain it to me," said the Mock Turtle.

"She can't explain it," the Gryphon said hastily. “Continue with the next verse.”

"But about the toes?" insisted the Mock Turtle. "Howcouldhe pushes them with his nose, you know?

"It's first position in the dance." said Alice; but he was terribly puzzled by the whole affair, and he wished to change the subject.

“Continue with the next verse,” the Gryphon repeated impatiently: “begin.”I went through your garden.'”

Alicia did not dare to disobey, although she was sure that everything would go wrong, and she continued with a trembling voice:—

"I passed through your garden and watched with one eye

How Owl and Panther shared a cake:

The Panther took pie crust, sauce and meat,

While Owl had the dish as his share of the treat.

When the cake was finished, the Owl, as a gift,

He was kindly allowed to put the spoon in his pocket:

When the Panther received a knife and fork with a grunt,

And the party ended...

"Whatit isthe use of repeating all these things,” interrupted the Mock Turtle, “if you don't explain as you go along? It's by far the most confusing thing I've ever heard!"

"Yes, I think you'd better stop," said the Gryphon, and Alice was very glad she did.Lewis Carroll,Alice in Wonderland. With forty-two illustrations by John Tenniel(New York: D. Appleton, 1927; University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center, 1998), ch. 10,http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/CarAlic.html.

Alice finds herself reciting a poem about a lobster and continues with a poem about an owl and a panther. Alice is not only creating, that is, she is inventing these poems, but she is also requiring the reader to finish the second poem:

When the Panther received a knife and fork with a grunt,

And the party ended

Eating Owl!

"Eating the owl!" The poem pushes the reader to complete the verse by completing the final ending of the poem: we know that the Panther is going to eat the Owl. Of course, a reader can complete the poem by typing, “throwing in the towel” or “picking up a lollipop”, “running down the hall” or even “with an even bigger howl”. In either case, you, as the reader, have activated the text.

You have dabbled in reader response theory.

Writing About Readers: Applying Reader Response Theory (1)

Illustration by Sir John Tenniel for Lewis Carroll'sAlice in Wonderland(1865).

Reader response theory suggests that the role of the reader is essential to the meaning of a literary text, since it is only in the experience of reading that the literary work comes to life.frankenstein(1818) does not exist, so to speak, until the reader readsfrankensteinand revives it, becoming co-creator of the text.María Wollstonecraft Shelley,frankenstein(1831; University of Virginia Electronic Text Center, 1994),http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/SheFran.html.

"Anecdote of the Jug" by Wallace Stevens.

I put a pitcher in Tennessee,

And it was round, on a hill.

Made the desert careless

Go around that hill.

The desert rose for her,

And lying around, no longer wild.

The jug was round on the ground.

It is tall and is carried in the air.

He took dominance everywhere.

The jug was gray and empty.

There was no bird or bush,

Like nothing else in Tennessee.

class process

  1. I read "Anecdote of the Jug" by Wallace Stevens.Wallace Stevens, "Anecdote of a Jar," University of Pennsylvania,http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/stevens-ancedote.html.
  2. Write about your reading experience: What went through your mind while reading the poem? Did you like the poem? I dont like him? Confused by the poem?
  3. Write what you think the poem is about: the theme of the poem.
  4. Divide into groups of three or four. Compare your experiences with each other. Then compare your interpretations.
  5. List the student group's performances on the blackboard, blackboard, or other high- or low-tech media in two categories: Experiences While Reading and Poem Interpretation.
  6. Discuss the differences between the reading experience and the ways the students interpreted the poem.

6.2Reader Response Theory: An Overview

Let's start with the famous Jane Austen openingemma(1816): “Emma Woodhouse, beautiful, intelligent, and wealthy, with a comfortable home and a cheerful disposition, seemed to have some of the best blessings there are; and she lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to sadden or irritate her.Jane Austen,emma(New York: Penguin Classics, 2011).

Ah, that Emma Woodhouse. “Handsome, intelligent, and wealthy, with a comfortable home and a happy temperament,” certainly, but also vain, proud, and a mischievous matchmaker in things having to do with love. She is not a character to base a novel on, the reader might reflect. Austen was nervous about creating Emma because, as she wrote in a letter, "I'm going to take a heroine that no one but me is going to love very much." Yet Austen does just that: inemma, creates a character that exhausts the reader's patience, which the author acknowledges that readers may not like.

Austen's comments about Emma point to the fact that readers identify with the characters in a novel. And we can extrapolate further: readers like or don't like what they read; readers are moved by joy, anger, sadness, etc., by a literary work; and readers read literature on a personal level. For an author, this "reader response" is of paramount importance, as Austen certainly realizes. If readers don't like Emma, ​​don't sympathize with her on some emotional level, they won't like the novel.

class process

  1. Make a list of works of literature that you were told were great or important, but you didn't really like. Your instructor should also share your dislikes. This should lead to a lively discussion.

You will see that "like" and "dislike" are important markers in reader response theory. Here is an example: inLetters to Alice at Jane Austen's first reading(1984), the author, Fay Weldon, writes to her niece Alice, trying to convince her of Austen's importance. “You tell me in passing,” Weldon writes, “that you are taking a university course in English literature and are required to read Jane Austen; that you find it boring, petty and irrelevant and that, with the world in crisis and the catastrophic future, you cannot imagine what sense your reading of it can have.fay weldon,Letters to Alice at Jane Austen's first reading(Londres: Hodder y Stoughton, 2011), 11.Weldon replies:emmaopens with a paragraph that gives me shivers of pleasure: it shines with sheer competence: with the animation of the writer who has discovered power: who feels at home on the roads of the City of Invention. Here is Emma, ​​arousing envy in the hearts of the reader and, one suspects, the writer as well, and now, he declares, Emma will be undone; and I, the writer, and you, the reader, will share that experience.”fay weldon,Letters to Alice at Jane Austen's first reading(Londres: Hodder y Stoughton, 2011), 96.Weldon, of course, is responding to Austen on a very personal level, on a visceral level, we should say, which could make one "shivers with delight" or "thrilling envy" or "share this [reading] experience." . What does Weldon do with Austen andemmais to make an interpretation of the reader's response.

Reader response literary criticism acknowledges the simple fact that readers respond to literature on an emotional level and that such responses are important to understanding the work. Long ago, even Aristotle recognized the importance of public reaction to tragedy, since the key to tragedy iscatharsisAn emotional release. The Greek philosopher Aristotle argued that plays, or literature, should provide audiences with this experience., the purification of the emotions of the audience. if you rememberChapter 1 "Introduction: What is literary theory and why should I care?", the concept ofaffective fallacyit was central to the New Critical methodology: a reader should never confuse the interpretation of the literary work with the "feeling" he had while reading. These New Critics warned the reader that affective responses lead only to subjectivity; therefore, New Critics suggested that the reader pay close attention to the intricacies of the text under observation for meaning, since the text, like a well-crafted urn, contains meaning.

Critics of reader response, on the other hand, defend the affective fallacy (what reader response critic Stanley Fish called "thefallacy affective fallacyTerm coined by Stanley Fish to express critics' rejection of the reader's response to the affective fallacy of the New Critics. Critics of reader response believe that we should not suppress our personal responses to literature, but rather explore them in our writing.”), since they believe that the affective response of the reader is important for criticism.pez stanley,Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost, 2ª ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998).Instead of focusing on literature as a well-crafted ballot box, reader response critics focus on the reader, who “fills in” or “activates” the text as they read. In a way, the reader becomes the most important element in the reading process, even supplanting the author.

(Video) Reader Response Theory

When you think about it, the reader response critique makes a lot of sense. How many times have you been so immersed in a job that you forgot about the world around you? If you like fantasy literature, you may still remember the first time you read the Harry Potter series: you were transported from your muggle world to the magical Hogwarts, where Harry and his friends battle the dark forces in One Who Must Not Yam. How many of you lined up to pick up your copy of the latest Harry Potter book at midnight? Or camped out at the theater to be one of the first to see the final chapter ofthe deathly hallows🇧🇷 There may even be some of you who aren't Potter fans, but be warned: don't share these thoughts too easily! Case in point: One of the editors of this book, John Pennington, found this out very clearly. He teaches a general education course called Science Fiction and Fantasy, which attracts die-hard fans of these popular forms of fiction. When the first volume of the Harry Potter series came out, a student approached him and told him that this was the best fantasy literature since J.R.R. Tolkien, maybe even better. Quite a statement, and one that came from a very smart student who was clearly excited aboutharry potter and the Philosopher's Stone🇧🇷 However, Pennington discovered that he did not enjoy the novel as much as his student. He then he read the next volume, and the next, and...you get the idea. To be frank, he wasn't that impressed with the Harry Potter series. He finally published an article aboutthe lion and the unicorn, a critical magazine that focuses on children's literature. In that article, he criticizes the Harry Potter series as ineffective, shall we say "failed", fantasy literature.John Pennington, "From Elfland to Hogwarts, or the aesthetic problem with Harry Potter",the lion and the unicorn26, no. 1 (2002): 78–97,http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/lion_and_the_unicorn/toc/uni26.1.html.

Over the years, he has received emails from students doing research on Harry Potter. To demonstrate that literature is often read with passion, read the following email to John Pennington, which he received from a student doing a research paper:

Hello Professor Pennington. My name is Emily. I am a final year English student at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, TX.

For my doctoral thesis I have been researching fantasy literature (I am making a comparison between magical and fantastic creatures in American and British literature) and in my search I came across your article “From Elfland to Hogwarts, or the Aesthetic Problems with Harry Potter. I'm not going to lie to you, I'm an avid Harry Potter fan. I am the president of St. Mary's Harry Potter, called Dumbledore's Army.

Mary's Harry Potter club, called Dumbledore's Army. She just wanted to know if her feelings about certain aspects of the Harry Potter series have changed now that all the books have been published. I definitely agreed with some of her opinions and arguments (even as a little kid reading the books, I made the connection between Tolkien/Rowling and Lewis/Rowling), but there are also instances where I feel like I was being too much. Lasted. For example, you said that while Voldemort was clearly the archetypal representation of evil, there was none for good. I do not agree. I do not believe that the figure of good has to be a person or a being. Instead, in the case of Harry Potter, the symbol of the good archetype is love. While good and love can arguably be seen as synonymous in some cases (through the right analytical lens), I believe that the manifestations of love in the Harry Potter series are what actually fights Voldemort (rather than Harry's attempts to fight, another aspect I, and in fact Harry agrees with you: all he had was luck) and therefore became the figure of good.

I found your article useful for my research and plan to read more of your published work in the future.

Another question: do you often get emails from people who are not happy with your criticism of the Potter series? I guess the answer is yes.

Thanks for your time.

—Emily Bryant-Mundschau

Dumbledore's Army is not to be fought! In a follow-up email, where John admitted to Emily that his critical views of Harry Potter hadn't really changed, he also added that he was a little disappointed that Rowling had indicated in an interview about her first adult novel, The Casual . Vacancy (2012)-that she did not see herself as a role model for children. Emily responded, “If it wasn't for getting a copy of Philosopher's Stone in third grade, I might not major in English now. I think many of the English learners of my generation are proof that she is a role model for children. Also, I think she must be deliberately ignoring the fact that there's a Harry Potter amusement park... how can kids not love her? Emily and John, oddly enough, were acting like critics and fans (or non-fans, in John's case). In other words, readers are torn to some extent between the role of being an objective critic and a subjective fan, a tension that reader response theory can help explain. Some publishers, in fact, focus on works critical of Harry Potter, creating a critical industry that extols the virtues of the Harry Potter series. Winged Lion/Zossima Press is just one example, and the titles highlight how academic research merges with personal enthusiasm for books.

Writing About Readers: Applying Reader Response Theory (2)

Book covers courtesy of Winged Lion/Zossima Press.

But there is also a flip side to the "positive" reading experience. How many times have you been so irritated by a work –or a review! – Who couldn't finish or dreaded every second between pages? Some may never develop a "like" for Henry James, for example. And however much you may admiredick moby(1851) by Herman Melville, you have to admit that the so-called ketogenic center demands a lot of patience from the reader.

your process

  1. Make a list of your three favorite literary works and write a short paragraph for each one that explains why you like them so much.
  2. Now do the same for your three least favorite jobs. Because you do not like them?
  3. Do you notice any patterns in the works you like and dislike? Why do you think you feel the way you feel about these works?
  4. Is there a job that you didn't like at first reading but did like later? Or jobs that you initially loved but now find exhausting? explain.
  5. Choose one that you like or dislike and consider using the work as text for your reader response document. Here are some key questions you might ask yourself after reading the overview of reader response theory types: Why do I like or dislike this job so much? How do I read this work in a way that can explain my attitude towards the work? Does the work touch on, or challenge, my theme of identity? Does my reading connect with an interpretive community? Does my gender, race, class, sexual orientation, or other aspect of my identity have anything to do with my answer?

class process

  1. Make a list of your favorite literary works that you read primarily as a fan.
  2. Does this fan favorite hold up to critical scrutiny? Why or why not?
  3. How do you negotiate this tension between being a fan and a critic?
  4. Ask your instructor to list these fan favorites on the board.
  5. Discuss the tension between the fan and the critic using these examples.
  6. Choose one of the likes or dislikes you've listed and consider using the work as the text for your reader response essay. Here are some key questions you might ask yourself after reading the overview of reader response theory types: Why do I like or dislike this job so much? How do I read this work in a way that can explain my attitude towards the work? Does the work touch on, or challenge, my theme of identity? Does my reading connect with an interpretive community? Does my gender, race, class, sexual orientation, or other aspect of my identity have anything to do with my answer?

Now that we recognize the fact that personal responses are an important component of the reading process, and of all literary discussion, we can begin to learn about the variety of reader responses. As a new critic, he remembers, he scrutinized the text carefully; As a reader response critic, he'll discover how his personal likes and dislikes shape his interpretation of a work.

6.3Focus on reader response strategies

Reader response strategies can be categorized, according to Richard Beach inA teacher's introduction to reader response theories(1993), into five types:textualCritical approach that emphasizes the text itself (in relation to other forms of reader response criticism); the text directs the interpretation as the reader directs the text to the interpretation.,experientialForm of criticism that emphasizes the reader's reading process on the text; it involves analyzing our subjective responses to literature.,psychologicalApproach that explores how we connect with texts on a personal level. Subjective analysis and identity analysis are subcategories of this approach.,socialA form of literary criticism that explores how readers' attitudes toward a text change over time., miculturalA type of criticism that focuses on the various personal backgrounds that readers bring to a text and how these backgrounds shape readers' interpretations..Ricardo Praia,A teacher's introduction to reader response theories(Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1993).Let's review these categories.

Text Reader Response Strategies

A close reading of a text teaches you to observe “closely” the operation of a text and to extract some meaning from the operation of the text. In other words, your interpretation is driven primarily by the text. Textual approaches to reader response acknowledge the fact that text influences the way readers read and construct meaning. Thus, the reader and the text interact in the process of formulating meaning from the text. Imagine a text like a painting in an art gallery: your interpretation of the painting will be based on whether you like it or not, but that reaction will be driven by the painting itself. Or consider a literary text as a musical composition; As a listener, you are moved by music, but you have to relate the music to some experience for it to work on you emotionally. Another metaphor: a text is like an unfinished sculpture; the reader must bring the finished form to the work. Thus, for the textual critics of the reader's response, the text directs the interpretation in the same way that the reader directs the text to the interpretation.

Literature as a transaction: filling in the gaps and ghost chapters

A pioneer in the critique of reader response is Louise Rosenblatt, whoseLiterature as exploration(5th ed., 1995) has provided an alternative theory to the persistently popular New Critical approaches. Rosenblatt argues that literature must become personal if it is to have a full impact on the reader;Luisa Rosenblatt,Literature as exploration, 5th ed. (New York: Modern Language Association, 1995).in fact, the affective fallacy of the New Criticism prevents the reader from engaging with the text on any personal level. Rosenblatt's approach, like the new critical reading methods, provides a class strategy; however, while the New Critics focused on the literary text, Rosenblatt focused on the reader.

Rosenblatt believes that readers deal with the text by bringing their past life experiences to help interpret the text.Luisa Rosenblatt,Literature as exploration, 5th ed. (New York: Modern Language Association, 1995).Reading literature becomes an event: the reader activates the work through reading. Rosenblatt argues that any literary text allows for aefferent readingWhat the reader thinks he should retain after reading a text., which is what the reader thinks should be retained after reading; theaesthetic readingWhat the reader actually experiences when reading a text (in contrast to efferent reading)., on the other hand, is what the reader experiences while reading.Luisa Rosenblatt,Literature as exploration, 5th ed. (New York: Modern Language Association, 1995).Aesthetic reading accounts for changes in the reader's attitude towards a literary work. Rosenblatt's theory envisions a reading process that leads to discussion and interpretation: a reader transacts with a literary text during the reading process, focusing on the aesthetic response during reading. After reading, then, the reader reflects on the aesthetic response and compares it with the textual evidence and other interpretations. In a way, literary interpretation is more concerned with the transaction, the reading process, than with the interpretation of a particular work.

Another important reader response theorist is Wolfgang Iser, who complements Rosenblatt. Iser believes that a literary work has meaning when the reader engages with the text.wolfgang iser,The role of the reader: explorations in the semiotics of the text, (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1979).According to Iser, every literary work is balanced by two poles, theartisticWhat the author creates; a literary work is caught between this and the aesthetic pole.It's inby aestheticsWhat is perceived or completed by the reader; a literary work is caught between it and the artistic pole., roughly corresponding to Rosenblatt's efferent and aesthetic readings. For Iser, the artistic pole is the one created by the author; the aesthetic pole is the one that the reader perceives or completes.wolfgang iser,The role of the reader: explorations in the semiotics of the text, (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1979).Since a literary work is caught between these two poles, its meaning lies in the gap between these poles; the primary quality of a text is its indeterminacy. A textual critic, Iser recognizes that the text -the artistic pole- guides the reader who resides in the aesthetic pole. He distinguishes betweenimplicit readerThe reader creates a text for himself: the hypothetical person to whom the work seems to be addressed., the one that the text creates for itself, and thetrue readerThe actual person reading the literary work; he or she may not resemble the implied reader of the text., the reader who contributes “things” to the text.wolfgang iser,The role of the reader: explorations in the semiotics of the text, (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1979).Consequently, there is a gap between the implicit and the real reader, and between the artistic and aesthetic poles. The reader, then, must fill in the blank spaces to specify the text. Umberto Eco, another critic of reader response, goes further to fill in the gaps, arguing that readers write ghost chapters in texts as a way of understanding the transaction that takes place between the text and the reader.Umberto Eco, “The reading process: a phenomenological approach”. insideCritique of the reader's response from formalism to post-structuralism🇬🇧 Edited by Jane P. Tompkins. (Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980) pp. 50–69.

As you can see, Iser's reader's response textual criticism is based on his claim that the reader concretizes the text, gives it meaning, while the text necessarily guides this concretization. Consequently, a literary text operates by indeterminacy; there are gaps that the reader tries to fill.

Transaction: the rhetoric of fiction

Another pioneer in reader response criticism is Wayne Booth, who inThe rhetoric of fiction(1961; revised edition 1983) analyzes the way in which literature engages us through its language or rhetoric.wayne cabin,The rhetoric of fiction, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983).Booth shows readers how authors manipulate them into seeing things they've never seen before. Booth's most important contributions to reader response critique (and literary criticism in general) are his concepts of implicit author (or narrator) and unreliable narrator, and how they force us to face reading as an ethical act.

oimplied authorThe narrative voice that an author creates in his work. The implied author guides or directs the reader's interpretation of the text.—the narrative voice that the author creates in a work—is the most important artistic effect: in a sense, the implicit author directs the reader's reaction to the literary work, directing—or sometimes forcing—the reader to react on an emotional level . since the implied author contributes his ethical principles to the text. By directing the reader's interpretation, the implied author limits the reader's response while forcing the reader to react to the implied author.

For example, Booth claims that the implicit author inemmarecognizes that the reader must be able to like and like Emma; otherwise the novel will fail.wayne cabin,The rhetoric of fiction, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983).Thus, Austen creates an implied author, the narrator, who controls our perception of Emma by creating a character the reader can empathize with, laugh when appropriate, and condemn when necessary. Once the implied author becomes a friend and guide, we as readers can trust the narrative voice to guide us.

Booth acknowledges that while the implicit author of a text may be trusted, the work may still have aunreliable narratorA narrator who cannot be trusted because they have a limited point of view (usually a first person narrator). An unreliable narrator forces the reader to respond to the text on a moral plane.🇧🇷 The narrator of Jonathan Swift's “Modest Proposal” seems perfectly confident and in control until we realize that his proposal to alleviate Ireland's poverty is to raise babies as edible delicacies.Jonathan Swift, “Modest Proposal” (London: 1729; University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center, 2004),http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/SwiMode.html.Or think of the first-person narrators in the works of Mark Twain.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn(1885) o J.D. SalingerThe Catcher in the Rye(1951).J. D. Salinger,The Catcher in the Rye(Londres: Little, Brown, 1951).An unreliable narrator requires that the author and reader establish a special bond whereby they acknowledge that the narrator is unreliable; In a sense, then, the reader and the author enter into a transaction by acknowledging the implicit unreliable author's limited insight. The unreliable narrator ultimately forces the reader to respond on some moral plane.

By appealing to the moral qualities of the reader, Booth provides a framework for areading ethicsThe idea that a reader must carefully judge the ethical dimension of a work by comparing their personal experience and moral beliefs with the narrative.which defines inThe Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction(1988). Using Rosenblatt's distinction between efferent and aesthetic reading, Booth argues that the reader must translate efferent reading into aesthetics, since efferent reading requires us to compare our personal experience and moral beliefs with the narrative.wayne cabin,The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988).Since a literary work dominates us during the reading experience, an ethic of reading will require that the reader end up judging the ethical dimension of a work.nonce beliefsBeliefs that the narrator and reader share only while reading the text (as opposed to fixed norms).they are the beliefs that the narrator and the reader adopt only during the reading.fixed rulesThe beliefs on which a literary work depends. Unlike nonce beliefs, they are applicable to the real world outside of the text.they are the beliefs on which the effect of all literary work depends, but they are also applicable to the real world. As an example, Booth uses Aesop's fables, since a talking animal is related to our nonce beliefs (the talking animal is recognized as essential to the narrative) when the fixed norms will imply the moral that concludes the fable. Thus nonce and fixed beliefs require a transaction between the reader and the work. Booth suggests that an ethic of reading becomes a two-stage process: (1) the reader must fully surrender to the reading experience, and then (2) the reader must view the reading experience from an ethical perspective ( It depends on the reader's own will. morality). position).wayne cabin,The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988).In other words, we must keep company with the literary work and keep an open mind until we come to the conclusion that the work may be harmful to us or conflict with our moral beliefs. As you can see, Booth's reading ethic is determined by the reader's moral constitution, which depends on a specific moment and reading experience. He is open to change.

"The Tempest" (1898) by Kate Chopin is a good example of this.“Kate Chopin 'A Tempestade'”, International Kate Chopin Society,http://www.katechopin.org/la-tormenta.shtml.In the story, a married woman has a passionate affair one afternoon with an acquaintance who comes to her house to escape a storm. Their relationship is established in an earlier story, "At the Cadian Ball" (1892), Chopin presents the affair as a natural impulse; the end of the story tells us that both parties are happy and content.Kate Chopin, “No Baile de Cadian”, enThe Awakening and Selected Stories, ed. Sandra M. Gilbert (New York: Penguin, 1984).While you are in the company of "The Tempest", you will respond to the story itself as it concerns you, but after reading it you will complete the reading by putting your ethics at stake: do you reject the story because it does not condemn adultery? Do you accept the story for its honest portrayal of sexual passion?

Booth's reader-response type of textual criticism is a valuable tool for readers, as it provides a textual model of reading (the implied author being both trustworthy and unreliable) that encompasses the ethical dimension of the reader, which must transact with the literary work. .

Reader-response textual criticism, as exemplified by Rosenblatt, Booth, and Iser, is a powerful literary critical tool to use when analyzing texts. Using some New Critical conventions, these critics can show how the text and the reader can be simultaneously active during the reading process.

your process

  1. Read the following fable by Aesop:

The hare and the Tortoise

The hare once bragged about his speed to other animals. “I was not yet defeated,” he said, “when I rushed forward with all my speed. I challenge anyone here to run with me.

The turtle said calmly: "I accept your challenge."

"That's a good joke," said the Hare; "I could dance around you all the time."

"Keep bluffing until you win," answered the Tortoise. "Let's run?"

So a course was set and a start made. The Hare almost disappeared from sight at once, but she soon stopped and, to show her contempt for the Tortoise, she took a nap. The Tortoise went on and on, and when the Hare woke up from his nap, he saw the Tortoise very close to the victory post and couldn't run in time to save the race. Then he said to the turtle: "Working hard wins the race."Aesop, "The Tortoise and the Hare",Aesop's fables,http://www.aesops-fables.org.uk/aesop-fable-the-hare-and-the-tortoise.htm.

  1. Use Booth's notions of fixed and nonexistent beliefs to examine how you will respond to the moral of the fable. Does hard work win the race in your value system?
  2. Are there gaps in the narrative that you filled in to make sense of the narrative? What were they? Can you apply Rosenblatt's and Iser's notions about how readers complete the text?

Seasoned Reader's Response

Experiential reader-response critics, such as Stanley Fish, differ from textual reader-response critics in one very important respect: they emphasize the process of reading the literary work by the reader. Fish calls this type of reader responseaffective stylisticsA form of experiential reader response critique in which readers first engage with the text, then focus on their reading responses as they read, and finally describe the reading experience by structuring their reading responses., reminding us of the "affect" that literature has on us and the affective fallacy of the New Criticism that rejected any emotional response that a reader could have before a literary work.pez stanley,Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost, 2ª ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998).For Fish, then, affective stylistics is the experience that the reader has while reading, which he defines as a triple process:

  1. Readers surrender to the text, letting the text wash over them; in fact, at this stage, readers need not worry about trying to understand what the work is about.
  2. Readers then focus on their reading responses as they read, seeing how each word, each sentence, each paragraph elicits a response.
  3. Finally, readers must describe the reading experience by structuring their reading responses, which can conflict with the common interpretation of a work.pez stanley,Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost, 2ª ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998).

Fish's thesis is seductive, because when we read we are constantly reacting to our reading, connecting it with our personal lives, with other literary works we read, and with our reading experience at that specific moment of reading. Sometimes we will love to read; other times we fear it. Insidesurprised by sin, Fish examines how the reader is affected by reading the work of John MiltonLost paradise(1667), that epic poem that describes the fall of Adam and Eve.Juan Milton,Lost paradise(1667; University of Virginia Electronic Text Center, 1993),http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/MilPL67.html.Fish argues that the reading experience ofLost paradiseit reflects the actual fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden.pez stanley,Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost, 2ª ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998).

As intriguing as Fish's affective styles are, the reality is that readers generally agree on meaning; that is, they tend to see similar things in the same text. A textual critic of reader response would argue that the text, through its transaction with the reader, leads to such a common interpretation, but Fish is interested in another possibility: that we are trained to find similar meanings. He calls this ideainterpretive communitiesA group of readers who share common beliefs that lead them to read a text in a similar way. For example, feminist critics are trained to identify and analyze gender issues, so two feminist critics reading the same text are likely to have similar interpretations.🇧🇷 For Fish, then, a reader from an interpretive community brings meaningbythe text because he or she is qualified to do so.pez stanley,Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost, 2ª ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998).A student in a modernist poetry class, for example, would interpret Wallace Stevens's "Anecdote of the Jar" in terms of modernism and the poetic movements of modernism and would be comfortable making claims about the meaning of the poem. Literary theory, which you are learning as you go through this text, also demonstrates an interpretive community. If he is intrigued by Freudian psychoanalytic criticism, he will find Freudian meanings in the works he is reading; similarly, a feminist critic will encounter gender issues as she reads. Another way to understand interpretive communities is to note that the American legal system has embraced the idea of ​​interpretive communities in jury selection: for example, if a defense attorney who is representing a college student in a case of alcohol use by a A minor can get the jurors to agree that the minimum drinking age should be lowered to nineteen, then the jury will have already interpreted the evidence in light of their beliefs and find the student not guilty.

The Experiential Reader Response acknowledges that reading is a subjective process and seeks to understand how to analyze such subjective responses.

Sonnet 127

In old age, black was not considered fair,

Or if it was, it wasn't called beauty;

But now he is the successive heir to the black beauty,

And the beauty slandered with bastard shame:

For since each hand has put the power of Nature,

Fulfilling the lack with the false face borrowed from Art,

Sweet beauty has no name, no sacred pavilion,

But it is desecrated, otherwise it lives in disgrace.

So my lady's eyes are black as a raven,

Your eyes so correct, and the mourners seem

Who, not born beautiful, does not lack beauty,

Sland'ring creation with false esteem:

Yet they lament the fact of their affliction,

That every language says that beauty should look like this.

your process

  1. Read Shakespeare's Sonnet 127.William Shakespeare, "Sonnet 127," ensonnets(1609; University of Virginia Electronic Text Center, 1992),http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/ShaSonQ.html.As you read, write down what is on your mind. Do you try to understand the poem as you read it? Do you get frustrated while reading? Do some words evoke feelings?
  2. Have you read other Shakespearean sonnets? If so, what do you remember about them? Did you bring your knowledge of sonnets to this reading? Did you read the poem from a particular interpretive community?
  3. How has your interpretation of the poem shaped your interpretive community? What ideas from your community did you bring with you when interpreting the poem?

psychological response of the reader

When we read, we are continually connecting the text with our lives, almost as if the literary work is speaking to us personally. The reader's psychological response helps us better understand this phenomenon.

Subjective Analysis

often calledsubjective criticismA form of reader response criticism that considers a literary work to comprise both the particular text and our interpretation of it. Meaning in the text is created when readers compare their answers with each other to develop a common understanding., this form of critique of reader response is advocated by David Bleich, who believes that reader response becomes the text itself, ripe for analysis (or psychoanalysis). For Bleich, a literary text comprises a real entity: the text, the words on the page, which is a concrete object, and our interpretation of the concrete text, which can be seen as a symbolic object. We “resymbolize” the text through our perceptions and beliefs. Meaning, then, is negotiated: our (very personal) reading response is often brought to a larger (communal) body to discuss the meaning of a literary work. The classroom is a perfect example: you are assigned to read something, read and develop a personal interpretation, and then share that interpretation with the class; ultimately, the class creates more of a communal role-play. In subjective criticism, knowledge is seen as socially constructed from the interaction of all readers; Thus, the interpretation is seen as personal but communal, the common element being that the reading is subjective. The transaction that takes place in subjective criticism is between the reader-facing personal response statement and the more audience-facing response statement that reflects the themes of the text.

Subjective criticism focuses on the negotiation of meaning: your point of view is not wrong if it is based on some objective reading of the text.

identity analysis

Norman Holland's approach to reader response follows in the footsteps of subjective criticism. According to Holland, people treat texts the same way they treat life. Holland would say that we gravitate towards certain literary works because they satisfy our inner, psychological needs. In other words, each reader has an identity that we can analyze, which will open the literary text to a personal interpretation based on the identity of the reader. Therefore, we use the term “identity analysisA form of psychological criticism of the reader's response; It postulates that we are attracted to literary works that satisfy our psychological needs and, conversely, repelled or disturbed by works that do not satisfy our needs.” to describe the psychologically critical form of reader response that suggests we are drawn to works of literature that satisfy our psychological needs; on the contrary, we are repelled or annoyed by works that do not satisfy our needs.

These identity needs are often repressed in the unconscious and need an outlet, which reading provides. By reading, then, we can engage our repressed desires or needs. Why do we read fantastic literature? romantic literature? Thriller? Self-help books? Science fiction? Reading becomes a personal way of facing life.

(Video) Introduction to Reader-Response Theory

This coping process is interpretation, since literature exposes more about the reader than about the text itself. Holland believes that every reader has a “identity issueWithin identity analysis, the particular pattern of defense that a reader brings to a text. A reader who belongs to a marginalized racial or ethnic group, for example, is likely to have a different set of literary likes, dislikes, and defenses than a reader who belongs to a society's dominant racial or ethnic group.”, a pattern of defense that he or she brings to a text. In turn, we gravitate towards texts that tend to reinforce our themes of identity and our needs. The opposite is also true: we will avoid texts that challenge our identity or threaten our psychological needs. When we read a text, we see ourselves reflected. Holland calls this transactional processSKILLYCritic Norman Holland's process for reading a text, which involvesddefending,miexpectation,Feagerness, andttraining: we read inddefense (a coping strategy that aligns with ourmiexpectations) leading toFantasy (our ability to find gratification) and finally tottransformation (which leads to a total unifying effect for the reader).

your process

  1. Make a list of literary works that you have read several times.
  2. Why do you return to these works?
  3. Do they reflect issues that connect to your life? Do you dare to define the theme of your identity?
  4. Are there literary works that you don't like? Because? Do these upsets have something to do with the issue of your identity?

Social Reader Response

Often referred to as "reception theory", the social reader response is interested in how a literary work is received over time. In fact, the status of a literary work depends on the reception of the work by the reader. Hans Robert Jauss, a key figure in "reception theory," argues that the story of the reader is as important as the story of the literary work; in fact, the evolution of the reader's interpretation is at the heart of the change in literary status.Hans Robert Jauss,Towards an aesthetic reception. tan Timothy Bah. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982).For Jauss, any literary work continually evolves as the reader's reception changes according to the reader's needs.

A classic example of 19th century American literature isdick moby(1851), now considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, American novel ever written.Hermann Melville,Moby-Dick or the whale(1952; University of Virginia Electronic Text Center, 1993),http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/Mel2Mob.html.Andrew Delbanco titles the first chapter of his bookMust Read: Why Our American Classics Matter Now(1997) "Melville's Sacramental Style", which brings an almost religious fervor to Melville's importance in general anddick mobyspecifically.André Delbanco,Must Read: Why Our American Classics Matter Now(Nova York: Farrar, Strauss y Giroux, 1997).But it was not always like this. contemporary reviews ofdick mobythey were mixed, but many were quite unfavorable; this tarnished Melville's reputation and made it difficult for him to continue as a successful author. Melville.org has compiled a collection of contemporary reviews, one of which we reproduce here:

Thrice unlucky Herman Melville!...

This is a strange book, pretending to be a novel; arbitrarily eccentric; outrageously bombastic; in charming and vividly descriptive places. The author laboriously read to make a show of [sic] learning... Herman Melville is wise in this kind of wisdom. He uses it as filler to complete his skeletal story. It's poor filler, serving only to test the patience of his readers and tempt them to desire both him and his whales at the bottom of a bottomless sea...

The story of this novel hardly deserves the name... Mr. Melville can't do without savages, so he gets half hischaracterswild Indians, Malays and other untamed humanities... What was the author's original intention in weaving his absurd story, it is impossible to guess; evidently, when we compare the first and third volumes, it was never realized...

Having said so much that it could be construed as a reproach, it is only fair that we add a word of praise where it is due. There are sketches of scenes at sea, of whaling adventures, storms and life on the ship, like no other we have seen...

Mr. Herman Melville has earned a deservedly high reputation for his performances in descriptive fiction. He gathered his own materials and walked new and unexplored literary paths, displaying unusual powers and great originality. More careful, therefore, he must be to maintain the fame which he has so rapidly acquired, and not to waste his strength in such aimless and unequal actions as these incoherent volumes on sperm whales. [ellipsis in the original]"Contemporary Criticism and Criticism", Life and Work of Herman Melville,http://www.melville.org/hmmoby.htm#Contemporáneo.

London Literary Journal, December 6, 1851

Many critics felt thatdick mobyit was a downfall of Melville's talent, and that vision remained for the rest of Melville's life.

Why the reputation change? Critics have begun to reevaluatedick moby, scholars say, in 1919, and by 1930 the novel was often taught in university classrooms, thus consolidating its critical reputation. In 1941 F.O. Mathiessen, inamerican renaissance, established Melville as a central writer in the 19th century.FO Mathieson,American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1941).Furthermore, the rise of literary theory focused on race, class, and gender led to new revisionist readings of Melville; More recently, queer theory has argued thatdick mobyis a central text in gay and lesbian literature.

Another example is that of Zora Neale HurstonHis eyes looked to God(1937).Zora Neale Hurston,His eyes looked to God(Nueva York: HarperCollins, 1998).Hurston was a popular author in America, but was criticized by contemporary writers such as Richard Wright and Langston Hughes.His eyes looked to Godbecause it seemed so far removed from the “protest fiction” that other African-American writers (mostly men) were publishing. Here is an excerpt from Richard Wright:

Miss Hurston seems to have no desire to move in the direction of serious fiction... [ellipsis in original]

His eyes looked to Godis the story of Janie, by Zora Neale Hurston, who, at sixteen, marries a greedy farmer at the eager instigation of her born-slave grandmother. Romantic Janie, in the highly charged language of Miss Hurston, longs to be a pear tree in bloom and have a “dust bee sinking into a flower's sanctuary; the thousand brother chalices arch to meet the embrace of love. Restless, she ran away from her farmer husband and married Jody, a promising black businessman who, in the end, turned out to be no better than her first husband. After twenty years as secretary to her self-taught Jody, Janie finds herself a frustrated forty-year-old widow with a small fortune on her hands. Tea Cake, "in and through Georgia," floated, and despite her youth, Janie took it. For more than two years they lived happily; but Tea Cake was bitten by a mad dog and became infected with rabies. One night, in a doggy rage, Tea Cake attempts to murder Janie, forcing her to shoot the only man she's ever loved.

Miss Hurston may write, but her prose is wrapped in that easy sensuality which has haunted the Negro expression since the days of Phillis Wheatley. Her dialogue manages to capture the psychological movements of the popular black mind in its sheer simplicity, but that's about it.

miss hurstonvoluntarilycontinues in his novel the tradition thatforcedon the black in the theater, that is, the technique of the minstrel that makes the "whites" laugh. His characters eat, laugh, cry, work and kill; they swing forever like a pendulum in that safe and narrow orbit in which America likes to see the Negro live: between laughter and tears.“His Eyes Behold His Eyes Behold God,” University of Virginia,http://people.virginia.edu/~sfr/enam854/summer/hurston.html.

Thanks to these unfavorable reviews,His eyes looked to Godbecame a forgotten text, and remained so until Alice Walker, author ofto red heartand many other works, he wrote an essay inMagazine of Mrs., “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston”, which recounts his search for Hurston's grave in Eatonville, Florida. Walker ended up purchasing a headstone for Hurston's grave, reflecting Hurston's early reputation as a great American novelist.Alice Walker, “Finding Zora”,Magazine of Mrs., March 1975, p. 74–75.NowHis eyes looked to Godand Hurston appear in Delbanco's Study of American Classics.

Lesson Project: Reception Review

  1. Choose a popular literary text.New York Times Best Seller Listis a great place to start.
  2. Find three reviews of this work. You can find reviews using a search engine - Google, for example - and if your library hasSummary of book reviews.oBook Reviews Index, these are important databases.
  3. Write a short article that briefly summarizes each review, and then comment on the reviews. Do the reviewers agree with the book in their reviews? If not, explore the differences.

Reader Cultural Response

Cultural reader response recognizes that readers will bring personal experience to reading a text. What is this background? A variety of markers, including gender, race, sexual orientation, and even political affiliation, make up a person's background. In other words, as readers, we can interpret a literary work in light of where we are situated in society.

For example, genre is central to how readers respond to a literary work. See Amy Ferdinandt's response to James Thurber's “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” later in this chapter. Do men and women read differently? Some might say, "Yes." An important text to highlight women's reading experiences is that of Janice Radway.reading the novel(1984).Jane Radway,reading the novel, 2nd ed. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991).Radway examines why female readers gravitate to the novel. Radway's ideas, for example, could be applied to the work of Stephenie Meyer.Twilightseries , a romantic series about a young woman, Bella Swan, who falls in love with a vampire, Edward Cullen, but is also attracted to a werewolf, Jacob Black.Stephenie Meyer,The twilight saga collection(Londres: Little, Brown, 2009).The target audience forTwilightthey are teenage girls, and it is unusual for boys to readTwilight🇬🇧 Why?harry potter, on the other hand, appeals to both male and female readers, just like Suzanne Collins' book.voracious gamestrilogy.Suzanne Collins,The Hunger Games trilogy(Nova York: Scholastic, 2010).Another useful text to look at isGenre and reading: essays on readers, texts and contexts(1986), edited by Elizabeth A. Flynn and Patronage P. Schweickart.Elizabeth A. Flynn y Patrocinio P. Schweickart, eds.,Genre and reading: essays on readers, texts and contexts(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986).

Another example of highlighting culture and reading can be seen in Alan Gribben's NewSouth edition ofAdventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn(2011). This controversial edit replaces the "n-word" incranberry finnwith the wordslave🇧🇷 insideTom Sawyer, Gribben removes any derogatory language referring to Native Americans and replaces Twain's use of "mongrel" with, as Gribben writes, "'mongrel,' which is less disrespectful and has even acquired a degree of panache since J. K. Rowling.Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2005).”Mark Twain,As Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: The NewSouth Edition, ed. Alan Gribben (Montgomery, AL: NewSouth, 2011); J. K. Rowling,Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(Nova York: Scholastic, 2005).Gribben acknowledges that Twain's language can be seen as derogatory towards ethnic groups, which can prevent them from reading the texts.Mark Twain,As Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: The NewSouth Edition, ed. Alan Gribben (Montgomery, AL: NewSouth, 2011).Critics argue that changing one word for another, as incranberry finn, does not address the complexity of Twain's racial issues. For a fascinating discussion of race in relation to Twain, see Bedford's Case Study in Critical Controversy edition ofThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn(2nd ed., 2004), edited by Gerald Graff and James Phelan. In the unit on race, the editors provide a variety of interpretations of Twain's use of the “n-word,” which highlights the complexity of race in reading.Mark Twain,The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Case Study in Critical Controversy, 2ª ed., ed. Gerald Graff y James Phelan (Boston: Bedford, 2003).

As you can see, Cultural Reader Response takes seriously how a literary work can elicit a specific response from a reader based on their gender, race, social status, sexual orientation, etc., and how a reader can bring a strategy of reading based on your identity.

your process

  1. Write a journal or blog entry that explores your cultural position as a reader.
  2. Does your gender, race, religion, politics, sexual orientation, or other cultural marker determine in part what you read and how you read literary works? Give at least two concrete examples.

6.4Respuesta del lector: un enfoque basado en procesos

Reader response is a powerful and refreshing method of writing, as it allows you to focus on yourself as a reader specifically or readers in general.

  1. Carefullyread the workyou are going to analyze
  2. Ask a general questionafter your initial reading, you identify an issue, a tension, that is fruitful for discussion and so on.
  3. reread the work, paying special attention to the question you asked.make notes, which should focus on your core problem.Write an exploratory journal entryoblog postIt allows you to play with ideas.
  4. Build a working thesiswho makes a complaint about the work and is responsible for the following:

    1. What does work mean?
    2. How does reader response theory add meaning?
    3. Is "so what" meaningful about work? That is, why is it important for you to write about this work? What will readers learn by reading your interpretation?
  5. Reread the text to collect text evidence.for support. What literary devices are used to achieve the theme?
  6. Build an informal outlinethat shows how it will support your interpretation.
  7. Write a first draft.
  8. receive feedbackfrom your classmates and your instructor throughPeer Reviewmiconferencewith your instructor (if possible).
  9. review the paper, which will include revising your original thesis statement and restructuring your paper to better support the thesis. Note: You will likely revise many times, so it is important to get feedback at each stage of the draft if possible.
  10. edit and reviewfor its correctness, clarity and style.

We recommend that you follow this process for each article you write for this book. Of course, these steps can be modified to suit your writing process, but the plan ensures that you engage in a full reading of the text as you go through the writing process, which requires that you spend plenty of time reading, reflecting, write, review and revise.

6.5Writing Student at Work: Amy Ferdinandt Reader's Response to James Thurber's Book "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

Amy had read Thurber's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" many times in high school and was convinced it was a comic story about husband and wife. She was somewhat surprised to see the story reprinted again in her college textbook, reminding her that the story is central to the American literary canon. If you haven't read the story yet, you can do so atZootrope: the whole storywebsite.James Thurber, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,"Zootrope: the whole story5, no. 1 (2001),http://www.all-story.com/issues.cgi?action=show_story&story_id=100.

Amy's process

As Amy was looking for a story to do a reader response article, she thought she might come back to a story she knew very well. However, she discovered that her reaction to the story was quite different from when she read it in high school. In fact, she found that her story was now irritating her. Her purpose in her article was to examine why she had this change in interpretation of her story.

Amy had just taken a Shakespeare course where they learned about Renaissance notions of women and men. They studied Ian MacLean's bookThe Renaissance notion of woman, which provides a binary graph of the perceived differences between men and women:Ian MacLean,The Renaissance notion of woman(Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1980).

Men Women
limit unlimited
weird until
1 plurality
Correct let
square oblong
Resting moving
straight curved
Luz Darkness
Boa mal

Amy has also added to the list other binaries that she has come across in discussions in other college classes, many outside of English literature:

Husband Wife
pai madre
reason emotion
Forte weak
active passive
public Domestic

Such a graph, of course, suggests that one category is privileged over another: reason over emotion, good over evil, light over dark, active over passive, strong over weak, and husband over wife. . In other words, men over women. And Amy realized that the humor in Thurber's essay works because it flips these binaries, because Mrs. is a woman. Now Amy was in trouble: as a reader, how would she find humor in such stereotypes of men and women?

Amy's article combines textual and cultural theory of reader response: the use of blank space with the notion that gender influences reading strategies. Amy's first draft of the article begins with a journal entry she wrote to generate ideas for the article:

It's true that women misinterpreted "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." I did. Initially, I found myself wishing that Mrs. Mitty let Walter daydream in peace. But after reading the story again and paying attention to the portrayal of Ms. Mitty, I realized that it is imperative that women rise up against the texts that oppress them. By misinterpreting a text, the reader understands it in a way that is conventional and acceptable to the literary world. But in doing so, he also distances himself from the text, not fully accepting it and its meaning in his life. In rebelling against the text, the reader needs not only to understand the point of view of the author and the male audience, but also to formulate her own opinions and create a kind of dialogue between the text and herself. Rebelling against the text and stereotypes encourages an active dialogue between the woman and the text, which, in turn, ensures an active and (probably) angry response from the reader. I became a resistant reader.

That paragraph, as you'll see, becomes the final paragraph of the finished article. Amy decided to bring the personal, the passionate appeal of herself, last and allow a more theoretical and factual discussion to drive the article, thus making the personal appeal at the end deeper and possibly more persuasive.

As a side note, if you think Amy might rant too much in her article, you might want to read another popular Thurber story, "The Unicorn in the Garden" (http://english.glendale.cc.ca.us/unicorn1.html).James Thurber, “The Unicorn in the Garden,” Glendale Community College,http://english.glendale.cc.ca.us/unicorn1.html.

Did Amy discover something in her diary?

final draft

amy ferdinandt

Profesor Pennington

Introduction to Literature

April 24, 20–

Misunderstanding or Rebel: A Woman's Reading of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

In its simplest form, reading is “an activity guided by a text; this must be processed by the reader who, in turn, is affected by what he processed” (Iser 63). The text is the compass and the map, the reader is the explorer. However, the explorer cannot ignore those unexpected stones on the road that are not written on the map. Likewise, the reader does not come to the text without external influences. She comes with her experiences as a woman: professional, divorced, single mother. Her reading, then, is influenced by her experiences. So when reading a literary work like James Thurber's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" which paints a very negative picture of Mitty's wife, the reader is forced to misinterpret the story and accept Mrs. motherly wife, or rebel against that image and get angry with the society that sees it that way.

Due to pre-existing sociosexual patterns, women view characters, family structures, and even social structures from below as an oppressed group, not from a position of power at the top, as men do. As Louise Rosenblatt says: “A reader's tendency to identify [with characters or events] will no doubt be guided by our concerns at the time of reading. Our problems and needs can lead us to focus on those characters and situations through which we can achieve satisfaction, a balanced look, or perhaps just the unequivocal reasons not achieved in our own lives” (38). A reader who feels shackled by the role of housewife is more likely to identify with someone who is oppressed or trapped than with her executive husband. Likewise, a woman who cannot have children may react more emotionally to the story of the death of a child than a woman who does not want children. However, if a woman's perspective does not match that of the author whose work she is reading, a reader who has been shaped by a male-dominated society is forced to misinterpret the text, reacting to the "words on the page." . in one way and not another because it operates according to the same set of rules that the author used to generate it” (Tompkins xvii). By accepting the author's perspective and reading the text as he intended, the reader is forced to ignore his own female perspective. This, in turn, leads to a concept called “asymmetric contingency”, described by Iser as one that occurs “when partner A stops trying to implement his own behavior plan and follows without resistance partner B's. behavior of B” (164). ). Using this argument, it is clear that a female reader (Partner A) when confronted with a text written by a man (Partner B) will likely succumb to the writer's perspective and be forced to misinterpret the text. She or she might rebel against the text and raise an angry feminist voice in protest.

James Thurber, in the eyes of most literary critics, is one of the leading American humorists of the 20th century, and his short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is believed to have "launched a great [literary] period... itself... a way of attacking rigid forms" (Elias 432). The rigid form in Thurber's story is Mrs. Mitty, the wife of the main character. Walter Mitty plays her as a horribly boring mother. As a way to escape his constant nagging, he imagines fantastic dreams that take him away from Mrs. Mitty. However, she repeatedly interrupts his daydreams, and Mitty responds as if she were "a total stranger, like a strange woman calling out to him in the crowd." " (286). His wife is not only annoying to him, but she is also distant and removed from what he likes, like a stranger. When she talks to him, she seems to reflect the way a mother would talk to a child. For example, Mrs. Mitty asks: “'Why don't you put on your gloves? Lost your gloves? Walter Mitty reached into his pocket and pulled out his gloves. He put them on, but after she turned around and entered the building and he ran a red light, he took them off again” (286). Mrs. Care Finally, the clearest way in which Mrs. Mitty is portrayed as a heavy wife towards the end of the play, when Walter, waiting for his wife to leave the store, imagines that he is confronted by "the firing squad; upright and immovable, proud and scornful, Walter Mitty the Unconquered, inscrutable to the last” (289). Ms. Ella Not only is Mitty portrayed as an annoying, motherly chicken, but she is ultimately depicted as the one who will be the death of Walter Mitty.

Mrs. Mitty is a direct literary descendant of the first woman to be stereotyped as a nagging wife, Dame Van Winkle, the brainchild of American writer Washington Irving. Similarly, Walter Mitty is a reflection of his dreamy predecessor, Rip Van Winkle, who falls into a deep sleep for a hundred years and wakes with relief to discover that his annoying wife is dead. Judith Fetterley explains in her book, The Resisting Reader, how such a portrayal of women forces a woman who reads "Rip Van Winkle" and other similar stories to "find herself excluded from the experience of the story" so that she "cannot read story without being assaulted by the negative images of women it presents" (10). The result, it seems, is that a reader of a story like "Rip Van Winkle" or "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is left out of the picture. text or accept the negative images of women that the story presents. As Fetterley notes, "The consequence for the reader is a divided self. She is invited to identify with Rip and against herself, to despise the kinder sex and to act exactly like him, to laugh at Dame Van Winkle and accept that she represents 'woman', to be both repressive and repressed, and finally to realize that she is neither” (11).Thus, the woman is forced to misinterpret the text and accept the “woman as villain". as Fetterley calls it, or rebel against the story and its message.

So how does a reader respond to this portrayal of Ms. Mitty? If she were to follow Iser's statement, she would give in to the masculine point of view presented by the author. She would sympathize with Mitty, as Thurber wants us to, and she would see dominant women in her own life who resemble Mrs. Mitty. She can look at her mother and remember all the times she scolded her to zip up her coat against the cold winter wind. Or the reader may identify Mrs. Mitty with her controlling mother-in-law and laugh at Mitty's attempts to escape her control, just as her husband tries to escape his mother's criticism and control. her. Iser's ideal reader would no doubt consider her own position as mother and wife and she would swear never to become such a domineering person. This reader would probably also agree with a critic who says that "Mitty has a wife who embodies the authority of a society in which the husband cannot function" (Lindner 440). She could see the flaws in a relationship that was too controlled by a woman and recognize that a man needs to feel important and dominant in his relationship with his wife. Arguably, the reader would agree completely with Thurber's portrayal of the domineering wife. The reader may simply misinterpret the text.

Or the reader may rebel against the text. I could see Mrs. Mitty as a woman who is trying to do everything she can to keep her husband well taken care of. I could see Walter as a man with a fleeting reality check who dreams of being a fighter pilot, a brilliant surgeon, a weapons expert, or a military hero, when in reality he's a poor driver with a slow reaction time to fight. a green. . traffic lights. The reader can read Thurber's criticisms that by allowing his wife to dominate him, Mitty becomes a "non-hero in a civilization where women are winning the battle of the sexes" (Hasley 533) and becomes angry because women fight for equality. it is seen only as a battle between the sexes. I could interpret Walter's reverie as his attempt to dominate his wife, since all of his fantasies center on him in traditional roles of power. This, to most women, would infuriate Mitty (and indirectly Thurber) for creating and promoting a society that believes women should remain subservient to men. From a male point of view, it becomes a battle of the sexes. In the eyes of a woman, her reading is simply a struggle for equality within the text and in the outside world that the text reflects.

It's true that women misinterpreted "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." I did. Initially, I found myself wishing that Mrs. Mitty let Walter daydream in peace. But after reading the story again and paying attention to the portrayal of Ms. Mitty, I realized that it is imperative that women rise up against the texts that oppress them. By misinterpreting a text, the reader understands it in a way that is conventional and acceptable to the literary world. But in doing so, he also distances himself from the text, not fully accepting it and its meaning in his life. In rebelling against the text, the reader needs not only to understand the point of view of the author and the male audience, but also to formulate her own opinions and create a kind of dialogue between the text and herself. Rebelling against the text and stereotypes encourages an active dialogue between the woman and the text, which, in turn, ensures an active and (probably) angry response from the reader. I became a resistant reader.

Works Cited

Elias, Robert H. "James Thurber: The Primitive, the Innocent, and the Individual."contemporary literary criticism. vol. 5. Edition. Dedria Bryfonski. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980. 431-32. To print.

FETERLEY, Judith.the resistant reader. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1978. Impresso.

Hasley, Louis. "James Thurber: Humor Artist".contemporary literary criticism. vol. 11. Edition. Dedria Bryfonski. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980. 532-34. To print.

Iser, Wolfgang.The act of reading: a theory of aesthetic response. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1981. Impresso.

Lindner, Carl M. "Thurber's Walter Mitty: The Underground American Hero."contemporary literary criticism. vol. 5. Edition. Dedria Bryfonski. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980. 440-41. To print.

Rosenblatt, Louise M.Literature as exploration🇧🇷 New York: MLA, 1976. Printed.

Thurberg, James. "The secret Life of Walter Mitty."Literature: an introduction to critical reading. ed. Willian Vestermann. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1993. 286-89. Imprimir.

Tompkins, Jane P. "Introduction to Reader Response Critique."Critique of Reader's Response: From Formalism to Poststructuralism. ed. Jane P. Tompkins. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1980. ix-xxvi. Imprimir.

6.6Student sample work: Hannah Schmitt, “The Death of Intellectualism in Grahame-Smith and Austen’sPride and prejudice and zombies

This chapter begins with an example of Jane Austen's work.emma🇧🇷 Austen has become a cultural commodity, that is, it is continually updated and revised to make it relevant to our society. On the one hand, there are serious Austen scholars who see her work as central to the fundamental canon of literature. On the other hand, there are the Janeites, who are the novelist's biggest fans, groupies if you will.

This tension leads to interesting improvements. the 1995 filmno notion, for example, is an update ofemma, focusing the courtship dynamics in an institute.lost in austen, a 2008 TV series, is a kind of time-shifting story in which a young Londoner in the 21st century switches roles with Elizabeth Bennett frompride and prejudice(1813).Jane Austen,pride and prejudice(1813; Project Gutenberg, 2008),http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1342/1342-h/1342-h.htm.O romance de Karen Joy FowlerJane Austen's Book Club(2004) refers to a book club that meets to discuss Austen; it became a popular movie in 2007.Karen Joy Fowler,Jane Austen's Book Club(New York: Penguin, 2004).

Austen's boldest reappropriation may be that of Seth Grahame-SmithPride and prejudice and zombies(2009).Jane Austen y Seth Grahame-Smith,Pride and prejudice and zombies(Filadelfia: Quirk, 2009).Hannah was interested in the popularity of the update and explores the possible reasons for this popularity in the following article, which develops her argument by critiquing reader responses.

Hanna Schmitt

Professor London

Literature and Writing

May 22, 20–

The death of intellectualism in Grahame-Smith and AustenPride and prejudice and zombies

“It is a universally recognized truth that a zombie in possession of brains must need more brains” (Austen and Grahame-Smith 7). so it beginsPride and prejudice and zombies, The surpriseNew York TimesSeth Grahame-Smith's best-selling mashup, featuring characters from Austen's workspride and prejudicethey face an impending zombie apocalypse. WhenPride and prejudice and zombieswas first released in 2009, it marked the beginning of a series of literary mashups. Despite Quirk Classic's best efforts, however, none of her subsequent work has matched the popularity of Austen's mashup, which has since been turned into a graphic novel and iPhone game. Interestingly, whenPride and prejudice and zombiesis reimagined, even its reimagined counterpart is more successful than other literary mashups. The simple replicability ofPride and prejudice and zombiessuggests that its appeal goes far beyond frivolous parody and strikes at some cultural nerve. In her heart,Pride and prejudice and zombiestries to deal with contemporary fears of the death of intellectualism.

In recent years, critics have advanced various theories to explain the new interest in zombies dominating popular culture, and our society's interest in zombies has been attributed to everything from "the global financial crisis" (Hall 1 ) to "a fascination, paranoia, and socio-political-cultural war movement" (Sulter-Cohen 183). In her article "The Living Dead? Constructing people with Alzheimer's as zombies," Susan M. Behuniak calls attention to about the harmful cultural tendency to compare zombies to people with Alzheimer's, triggering “emotional responses of disgust and utter terror” in patients.72 Although Behuniak specifically states in his article that he wants to dissect rather than foster the connection between zombies and people with Alzheimer's (71-72), I think the cultural tendency to link them suggests that zombies, at least to some degree, tap into our cultural fears of intellectual loss.

Our society is obsessed with the possible failures of its own educational system and struggles not only with educational legislation, but also with doubts about the educational appropriation of new forms of technology such as text messages, video games and prolonged exposure to the Internet. The Bush administration's controversial education reform law, No Child Left Behind, gave rise to a series of texts such as Jonathan Kozol's.The shame of the nation, Diana RavitchThe death and life of the great American school system: how tests and choices are undermining education, miToo Many Children Left Behind: How the No Child Left Behind Act is Hurting Our Children and Our Schools, edited by Deborah Meier and George Wood, which announces the approaching end of the creative intellect and the failure of the educational system in the United States. Conservative educational critics, such as John Stossel in his special "Stupid in America," blame the bureaucracy of the public school system and teachers' unions for America's perceived educational deficiencies. Both conservatives and liberals agree that the US education system is inadequate, and our culture regularly faces critics who warn of the impending failure of education.

the success ofPride and prejudice and zombies, then, comes from Grahame-Smith's ability to recognize and respond to current cultural fears. Our society is no longer afraid of sea monsters, and even traditionally evil creatures like vampires and werewolves have become innocuous enough (or, at least, brooding and misunderstood), because our society has come to embrace or deny the fears that created these. fearful creatures. If one views zombies as the embodiment of intellect death, zombies are still potent because of their immediate cultural relevance.

Like Jane Austen's most famous novel,pride and prejudiceit defined our culture's understanding of Regency-era literature and has become virtually synonymous with the cult novel. However, the popularity ofpride and prejudiceit comes at the cost of sacrificing the non-romantic elements of his work, such as his focus on social status and satirical comments on propriety. In her essay "Austen's Therapy:pride and prejudiceand popular culture”, Marilyn Francus argues that modern adaptations ofpride and prejudice-particularly chick lit like Shannon Hale'saustenlandiay Alexandra PotterMe and Mr. Darcy-"perpetuatepride and prejudiceas a pure romantic narrative” and “reinforcepride and prejudices like a real and achievable narrative, rather than a fictional one.” The public recognizes characters like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, but also reduces them to their broadest and most cliché sense, as paragons of romantic literature. cultural reimaginings ofpride and prejudiceestablish prominence and recognition of the text, but also eliminatepride and prejudiceof its broader social context, thus creating an atmosphere forpride and prejudicewhich encourages readers to distance the text from its non-romantic elements.pride and prejudiceit's recognizable enough for readers to understand how the characters are supposed to act and popular enough for some audiences to accept adaptations and updates as sequels rather than slights, making it ideal parody material.

The humor of this parody allows Grahame-Smith to justify the “ultraviolent zombie mayhem” that the book's tagline promises. the violence ofPride and prejudice and zombiesit reflects the fear of ostracism and irrationality that can accompany the end of intellectualism. The intellectual vacuum of the zombies in the novel is so potent that the only way the rational main characters can defend themselves is through brute force. the violence ofPride and prejudice and zombiesit affects all characters and becomes the only acceptable way to deal with zombie attacks. In that sense, all the charactersPride and prejudice and zombiesthey are affected by the zombie brood plague, even if they are not affected directly. As the “unmentionables” draw strength from their numbers, the sympathy of others, and the ease with which infection spreads, the main characters must be ruthless. Zombies, like the intellectual vacuum they represent, are incapable of listening to reason. Also, the buzz is transmitted through bites, which zombies do quite often, and upon death, so pretty much anyone can catch "the strange plague" (30). Any character can become a zombie at any time, and only violence can stop zombies.

The violence created by the presence of zombies affects almost all the characters in the text. Mr. Bennet, who was reading a newspaper at the beginning of the original text, is now polishing his musket when Mrs. Bennet tells you about her new neighbor (7). Lady Catherine de Bourgh becomes a famous zombie hunter and her house is equipped with a dojo and ninjas (129). The five Bennet sisters, including Jane, oscillate between their original selves and their hardened warrior personalities. Even Mr. Bingley's values ​​change, when he realizes that he "had never seen women so strong in combat" (32). As the threat of zombies is ever-present, the characters change the way they relate to each other to accommodate their chaotic lifestyle.

Even when no zombies are present, the characters' relationship methods change. Elizabeth signals her rejection of Mr. Darcy physically attacking him (151), and at the end of the novel, Lady Catherine challenges Elizabeth to mortal combat (289). When Mr. Darcy goes to London in search of Wickham after Lydia's escape, he beats up Mrs. Vice and treason” (260). Although presented comically, the extreme violence that the characters must use to defeat their undead enemies spills over into other aspects of their lives, and the social discourse that marked all of the aforementioned circumstances in the original.pride and prejudicecharacterized by violence. Characters lose their ability to talk about their problems and express their anger peacefully, and in constant danger of losing their logic, they lose their ability to coexist peacefully.

Of all the characters in the text, Mr.Pride and prejudice and zombies🇧🇷 As a character lacking in intellectualism, Mr. Collins reminds readers how perceptions of intellect have changed since Austen's time. Both Mrs. Bennet and Mr. before their engagement (99), he gradually turns into a drooling brain eater (120). Mrs. Bennet is too concerned about her daughters' future wedded happiness to realize the dangers of attending social events, when zombies are more likely to launch their ill-conceived attacks. Mrs. Bennett and Mr. Collins represents a different kind of intellectual death: pettiness and selfish conceit. However, the pomp of these characters, while recognizable to modern audiences, is not as complete as the anti-intellectualism of the zombies. Mrs. Bennett and Mr. The Collinses are still goofy, but even they have some common sense. The "unmentionables" that populate the novel no.

Just as important as the success ofPride and prejudice and zombiesit is the relative failure of later texts. WeatherSense and Sensitivity and Sea Monstersentered the New York Times Best Seller list upon its release, it lacked the enthusiastic reception and cult-classic popularity of its predecessor because, unlikePride and prejudice and zombies,Sense and Sensitivity and Sea Monstershe failed to seize a cultural moment. Our society has no reason to fear or associate with sea monsters. The mashup genre depends on the cultural context for its success.

Through the use of black comedy,Pride and prejudice and zombieshe temporarily allays his audience's fears about the decline of intellectualism and subtly reminds readers that a society's capacity for cohesion is directly related to its intellectual capacities. By taking characters that have become cultural staples due to their simplifications, Grahame-Smith creates a text that is highly recognizable and available for satire. The success of this novel depends directly on her ability to recognize and reproduce cultural fears, allowing readers to achieve catharsis.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane y Seth Grahame-Smith.Pride and prejudice and zombies🇧🇷 Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2009. Print.

Austen, Jane y Seth Grahame-Smith.Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: A Graphic Novel.Adapted by Tony Lee. Illustrated by Cliff Richards. New York: Ballantine, 2010. Print.

Behuniak, Susan M. “The Walking Dead? Turning people with Alzheimer's into zombies.Aging and Society31 (2011): 70–92.Cambridge Magazines Online🇧🇷 The network. December 4, 2011.

Frank, Marilyn. "Austen's Therapy: Pride and Prejudice and Popular Culture".Online persuasions30.2 (2010): no. you payJane Austen Society of North America (JASNA)🇧🇷 The network. December 3, 2011.

freeverso, inc.Pride and prejudice and zombies🇧🇷 apple app June 3, 2011.

Hall, Derek. “Varieties of zombieism: an approach to political economy compared through28 days latermiwild zero.”International Studies Perspective(2011): 1–17.Wiley Online Library.The net. December 3, 2011.

Kozol, Jonathan.Shame on the Nation: Restoring America's Apartheid Schooling. Nova York: Three Rivers P, 2005. Impresso.

Meier, Deborah y George Wood, eds.Too Many Children Left Behind: How the No Child Left Behind Act is Hurting Our Children and Our Schools. Boston: Faro, 2004.

Ravitch, Diana.The death and life of the great American school system: how tests and choices are undermining education. New York: Basic Books, 2010. Print.

Sulter-Cohen, Sarah. "As Good As It Can Get: The Sociology of Zombies and the Politics of Survival".Zombies Are Us: Essays On The Humanity Of The Walking Dead. . . . ed. Christopher M. Moreman and Cory James Rushton. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 2011.Google book search.183–94. The net. December 3, 2011.

Stossell, John. "Stupid in America."majadero🇧🇷 FOX. September 27, 2011. Television Special.

(Video) Reader-Response Criticism | What to look into? | Faye Lusica

6.7Student Sample Paper: "Identity Issues in Dickinson: Four Students Reading" by Erin Huebner Gloege

Erin's article presented here embraces Holland's notion that literature explores the theme of each reader's identity, which directs the way readers will respond to and interpret a literary work. This article breaks somewhat from the traditional thesis support structure when Erin describes her research project and makes general remarks about the four readers at the end of the article.

after a lot of pain

After much pain, a formal feeling arises—

The Nerves sit ceremonially, like Graves—

The hard heart wonders if it was He who gave birth,

And yesterday, or centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, turn—

Of land, or air, or should—

a wooden path

Despite growing up

A contentment of quartz, like a stone—

This is the Hour of Lead—

Remember, if you survived,

Like frozen people, remember the Snow—

First—Cooling—then Stupor—then detachment—

Erin Huebner Gloege

Profesor Pennington

Literature and Theory

November 7, 20–

Identity Themes in Dickinson: Four Students Reading

Reading the same poem, two readers will eventually come to different interpretations, neither of which is necessarily more correct than the other. Due to the inevitable variation in responses, some literary critics have abandoned the notion that there is such a thing as an "objective" reading. Critics of reader response agree that all readings are "subjective" because they must be filtered by the reader. Each reader brings a unique background and approach to the work she reads. In the words of Norman Holland, “As readers, each of us will bring in different kinds of outside information. Each one will look for the particular issues that concern him. Each will have different ways of turning the text into an experience with coherence and satisfying meaning” (123). Critics, like David Bleich, go so far as to say that "it is the reader who determines whether a text is literature" (1254). If the reader is supposed to be essential in distinguishing a work as literature, and each reader approaches the work differently, then how can we understand and evaluate different interpretations of a work?

Norman Holland presents a strategy that correlates any interpretation with the individual personality of the reader: “interpretation is a function of identity(123). When a reader interprets a text through his identity theme, he first adjusts the text according to his way of adapting to a difficult situation; he or she approaches work as he or she would approach life. Second, the reader unconsciously associates the work with her desires and experiences. Ultimately, the reader moves from wishes to meaning, where he or she can share and communicate meaning with others (Holland 126-27). All these steps are carried out according to the theme of a person's identity, the way he looks at life. Thus, an interpretation of a text can be analyzed and explained by understanding the reader's approach to life, her identity theme.

The project

My goal for this article is to apply Holland's theory of identity themes to specific readers and their interpretations. I will show that, in fact, each of the interpretations I present is related to the focus of the reader's life. With the four interpretations that I have collected, I will first make a brief profile of the reader and his approach to life, followed by a generalization of this profile, which I see as the theme of this person's identity. Second, I will report, as written by the reader, his interpretation, often in the form of scattered notes. When useful, I will also report verbal comments from readers, which generally show a reader's judgment of his or her ability to interpret the literature. Finally, I will explain the connection between the reader's approach to life and his interpretation. As Holland's theory implies, the following examples demonstrate a direct correlation between the issue of reader identity and interpretation of the reader.

In order to give a complete understanding of this project, I will present my methods for collecting the interpretation. First, I chose a poem by Emily Dickinson called "After Great Sorrow." I printed copies of the poem without the author's name. I then gave the poem to four readers, whom I tried to choose from among various academic fields. Also, I personally know each reader; I found this necessary due to time constraints and my need to profile the reader without developing an extensive process to get to know the person. I asked the readers to write their answers on the piece of paper and answer the following questions: 1) What is the poem about or what does it mean? and 2) do you like it and why or why not?

Only the heart of the matter remains, to present the profiles and interpretations and link them to demonstrate that the interpretation is the result of the identity theme.

Profiles, interpretations and their connection

All readers reside on a Catholic liberal arts college campus, either as students or faculty. Also, they are all of Caucasian descent. Profiles are intended to provide additional general information as well as background information essential to understanding the subject's identity.

reader A

Reader A is a 21-year-old woman majoring in religious studies and peace and justice studies. Due to her educational background, as well as her commitment to service, she is acutely aware of the pain, need, and justice issues involved in helping those in need. She was deeply moved by the plight of abused people, especially children. Through conversations with her, I learned that she is specifically interested in how sexual and physical abuse affects victims throughout their lives. She wants to understand the struggle and healing process an abused person goes through; understanding is the key to facing such a struggle. She would define her identity theme this way: When faced with a difficulty, understanding its effects on the whole person is essential to that person's ability to cope with the difficulty.

Reader A's interpretation

  • Sexual abuse/physical abuse 3rd and 4th lines - childhood
  • Pushing in, living numb to not feel/acknowledge the feeling
  • Like: - can identify
  • have hopein the last line?: “then the detachment”
  • Dislikes: Use of capital letters - some are appropriate, others I can't see the meaning of their capital letters
  • good poem! I keep seeing new things/feeling more deeply every time I read!

Interpretation as a result of the theme of identity

Reader A's interpretation, first, immediately connects “great pain” with abuse and “yesterday or centuries before” with childhood. Immediately after the connection to child abuse, he describes some stages of grieving that are not particularly connected to any line in the poem, but seem to be a general sentiment. The stages are evident in his note: "go ahead, live numb so as not to feel/acknowledge the feeling." Her understanding of the abuse response expressed in the note above rounds out his interpretation, which leads me to believe that, having gained an understanding of the response, she is satisfied with his interpretation. She applied her identity theme of needing understanding to cope; she deals with the abuse she finds in the poem by understanding and identifying a reaction to it. Satisfied, she continues to express her feelings about the poem. He likes her because she "identifies" with him, that is, she connects with the author's understanding of the reaction to pain; Reader A discovers that the author, like herself, seeks to understand the reaction to pain. However, she doesn't like some capital letters because she "can't see the meaning of her capital letters". Your lack of understanding is the only disturbing point. Reader A's final conclusion, unsurprisingly, is positive because she found it difficult to understand the issue of her identity.

Lector B

Reader B is a 20-year-old woman with a music major and an education specializing in chemistry. Probably due to her musical and scientific background, she knows how things work together. For her, everything has her place and explanation. She would agree with my description of her as a "weirdo." She finds clutter annoying and responds to annoying events by putting other things in her world in her place, like lining up books or always making her bed. She would define her theme of identity this way: in the face of difficulties, organization is the key to staying sane and maintaining control.

Interpretation by Reader B

  • Calm after the storm - remembering the agony; when remembering, the body reacts rigidly - trying not to feel - numbness
  • Could she be remembering a miscarriage? - stiffness, lifelessness - how the person's life has gone - cold - dazed - letting go
  • I want to be strong - Nerves sit ceremoniously - but all the feelings come back and the only way to get rid of them is to let them go
  • Honestly, this doesn't really make sense to me. Different phrases seem to evoke images of God “it was He who gave birth…” “A wooden path”
  • I really don't like this because everything seems to be just fragments, even though thoughts are usually just fragments!

Interpretation as a result of the theme of identity

Reader B is organized in terms of his interpretation. She takes each verse and tries to find some meaning in it. With each partial interpretation, she cites specific lines, words, or feelings that led her to the conclusion of its meaning. For example, when she suggests that the poem could be about "remembering an abortion," she appeals to "stiffness," which is probably tied to "hard-hearted." The most interesting thing about Reader B's response is not her interpretation, but her reaction to the poem. She says that the poem “really doesn't make sense” and then comments on her displeasure at the fragmentation of the poem. Her theme of her organizational identity links her inability to understand with the poem's lack of organization. The fragments of her seem disconnected and disorganized; she is therefore unable to deal with the difficulty the poem presents to her, since she cannot find order in "madness." Unable to find order, she cannot identify with the author's description of a reaction to pain, and therefore she does not like the poem. She finds the theme of her identity incompatible with the poem and abandons it.

Lector C

Reader C is a nineteen-year-old youth who majored in philosophy and political science. For the past two years, much of his life has been focused on developing his faith. He includes God as a constant in his life picture, especially when he faces any difficulties. He is also aware that he personally faced only minor difficulties. He sometimes feels inadequate when he is around other people who have been through more traumatic events in their lives. He was also impressed by the ability of his friends to bring faith to his difficulties. He would define his theme of identity as follows: in the face of difficulty, turning to God is essential to face it and survive.

Reader Interpretation C

[noted in text] Line 4: “He” – Christ, “took” – Jesus bearing the sins


  • Line 7: “A wooden path” – Crucifixion?
  • Line 13: “First—Cooling—then Stupor—then detachment—”—process of dealing with great pain
  • I took this poem as a way for people to deal with the personal trauma in their lives. In the first verse, I get the feeling that the dust has settled after some disaster happened, and a person begins to calm down and asks: "Why did this happen to me?" Even more specifically if God is present and supporting or helping with the person's pain.
  • The second verse is quite confusing. I don't understand how the images fit into my interpretation of the poem.
  • The last verse follows the tone of the first, with the image of winter and cold symbolizing pain and confusion and the "Frozen People" going through the process of dealing with grief: shock, confusion, and then learning to live with it. she. Is he around?

Interpretation as a result of the theme of identity

Reader C immediately identifies the "great pain" as trauma. He then reacts as his identity issue would dictate: he brings God into the picture. He identifies a question that is often directed to God: “Why did this happen to me?” Your next step is to specify the matter as a relationship with God; includes God as a supporting figure. The idea of ​​him of God as a supporting figure does not seem to come from anywhere in the poem, but rather from some of the images that Reader C identified with God, such as “He bore” as Christ bore the sins. As Reader C continues with his interpretation, he admits that he cannot fit the second verse into his interpretation. Even so, he does not abandon his interpretation, but returns to it in the third verse. The last paragraph of reader C does not mention God, but rather talks about a person facing difficulties. It seems to me that Reader C sees no need to further reinforce his interjection of God in the poem. He deciphers the difficulty, puts God as support and faces the difficulty. This response is consistent with his identity theme, which appeals to the presence of God every time he encounters a difficulty.

reader D

Reader D is a middle-aged math teacher. Mathematically minded, he expects a solution or "correct answer" to any given problem. Furthermore, he has been exposed to more losses than my previous readers due to his age and experience with a large number of students and faculty. The experience of death and loss always increases with age. I would put his theme of identity like this: in the face of difficulty, you have to look for the "correct answer" to find the resolution.

Reader D's interpretation

The poem describes the feeling after a tremendous loss (perhaps the death of someone very close). The person who suffers the loss becomes insensitive, going through life in an apathetic way, oblivious to everything; focusing only on the pain. If a person survives this pain, it is remembered as a central event in his life. The last line brings to mind the stages of anger, denial, and resolution.

  • The first paragraph brings to mind the question of whether this poem is what God suffered when Jesus suffered and died.

Interpretation as a result of the theme of identity

Reader D identifies “great pain” as a loss probably due to death. He attributed this interpretation to his experiences with death. He then describes the person's reactions to death. This interpretation probably stems from his personal observations and experiences of the difficulty of dealing with death. Although his interpretation does not seem to be directly related to the issue of his identity, his comments about his interpretation are. After reading his answer, he asked me if I understood correctly. He wanted to know if he had found the correct answer. He assumed that there was a correct solution to the problem that he had posed for him in interpreting the poem. So instead of using his identity theme to interpret the poem, Reader D uses his identity theme to approach the poem. Reader D seems to have trouble understanding the poem and responds, according to his identity theme, by trying to find the "correct answer."


Although I started this project with some doubts about the relationship between a person's approach to life and their interpretations of a poem, the examples above have convinced me that there is definitely a correlation between the two. Even so, I also believe that this project fails to show a direct and undeniable cause-and-effect relationship between the issue of a person's identity and their approach to literature. Holland's theory in this preliminary investigation holds up, but I still have doubts about its robustness under closer examination because the correspondence found in the above examples does not have the "perfect fit" described by Holland.

Works Cited

Bleich, David. "Sentiments about Literature".The critical tradition: classic texts and contemporary trends. ed. David H. Richter. Nueva York: St. Martin's P. 1989. 1254-1271.

Dickinson, Emily. "After great pain."emily dickinson🇧🇷 ed. Lilia Melani. Department of English, Brooklyn College, 2009. Web. July 12, 2012. <http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/cs6/formal.html>.

Holland, Norman. "Unity Identity AutoText".Critique of Reader's Response: From Formalism to Poststructuralism. ed. Jane P. Tomkins. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins ARRIBA. 1980. 118–32. Imprimir.

6.8end of chapter review

main conclusions

In this chapter, we take an in-depth look at strategies for writing a literary article using reader response theory. We learned that the basic principles of reader response are as follows:

  • A critic of reader response focuses on the reader as the central figure in literary interpretation.
  • You learned that there are five categories of this theory: textual, experiential, psychological, social, and cultural.
  • You had the opportunity to see the reader response methodology practiced in three student papers.
  • You learned about the importance of the writing process, including peer review, and strategies for conducting peer review. Many of you also participated in the peer review of your reader response article.
  • You have written an analysis of reader response to a literary work.

writing exercises

Read "History of an Hour" (1894), by Kate Chopin, to follow.Kate Chopin, “The Story of an Hour”, Virginia Commonwealth University,http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/hora.As you read, write down what you experienced while reading the story (capturing the gist of the reader's experiential response).

"The Story of an Hour"

Knowing that Mrs. Mallard suffered from a heart condition, great care was taken to deliver the news of her husband's death as kindly as possible.

It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled insinuations that reveal in half concealment. Her husband's friend, Richards, was also there, next to her. It was he who was in the newspaper office when the information about the rail disaster was received, with the name of Brently Mallard at the top of the "dead" list. She only took the trouble to ascertain his truth by a second telegram, and she hastened to prevent some less careful and less tender friend from carrying the sad message.

She did not listen to the story like many women, with a paralyzed inability to accept its meaning. She cried immediately, with sudden, wild abandon, in her sister's arms. When the storm of pain passed, she went alone to her room. She would not allow anyone to follow her.

There it was, in front of the open window, a comfortable and spacious armchair. She sank into him, oppressed by a physical exhaustion that harassed her body and seemed to reach her soul.

She could see in the open square in front of her house the treetops shivering with the new life of spring. The delicious breath of rain hung in the air. In the street below, a peddler was advertising his wares. The notes of a distant song that someone [sic] sang to it faintly, and innumerable sparrows sang in the eaves.

There were patches of blue sky peeking here and there through the clouds that gathered and piled on each other in the west, outside her window.

She sat with her head thrown back on the cushion of her chair, perfectly still, except as a sob rose in her throat and shook it, the way a child who has fallen asleep crying continues to sob in her dreams.

He was young, with a clear and serene face, whose lines revealed repression and even a certain strength. But now there was a dull look in his eyes, his gaze fixed on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a reflective look, but it indicated an intelligent suspension of thought.

Something was coming for her and she was waiting for it, scared. What was that? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, crawling out of the sky, reaching for her through the sounds, the smells, the color that filled the air.

Now his chest was rising and falling tumultuously. He was beginning to recognize that this thing was coming to possess her, and he was fighting to fight it with her will, as helpless as hers would have been two slender white hands of hers. As she released herself, a small whispered word escaped her parted lips. She said several times in a low voice: "free, free, free!" The blank stare and the look of terror that followed faded from her eyes. They were enthusiastic and bright. Her pulses were beating fast, and the rushing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.

She did not stop to ask whether or not it was a monstrous joy that was taking possession of her. A clear and exalted perception of her allowed him to dismiss her suggestion as trivial. She knew that she would cry again when she saw the tender, tender hands folded in death; the face of her that she never looked at except with love, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and held out her arms in welcome.

There would be no one to live for in the next few years; she would live alone. There would be no force of will capable of subduing him to that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have the right to impose a particular will on a neighbor. Kind or cruel intent made the act seem no less a crime when he contemplated it in that brief moment of illumination.

And yet she had loved him, at times. She often she didn't. Does matters! What would love, the unsolved mystery, be worth in the face of this self-affirming possession that she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!

"Free! Free body and soul!" she kept whispering.

Josephine was kneeling in front of the closed door with her lips on the keyhole, begging to be let in. "Louise, open the door!" I beg; open the door, you will get sick. What are you doing, Luisa? For God's sake, she opens the door.

"Go away. I'm not getting sick. No; she was drinking an elixir of life through that open window.

His imagination was running wild in the days ahead. Spring days and summer days, and all kinds of days that would be hers. He breathed out a quick prayer that life would be long. Just yesterday he had thought with a shudder that life could be long.

She finally got up and opened the door to her sister's scolding. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she was behaving involuntarily like a goddess of Victory. She grabbed her sister by her waist and together they went down the stairs. Richards was waiting for them in the back.

Someone [sic] was opening the front door with a key. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a bit travel-stained, calmly carrying her backpack and his umbrella. He was far from the accident site and he didn't even know what had happened. Josephine's piercing scream startled him; to Richards' quick movement to shield him from his wife's view.

When the doctors arrived, they said that he had died of heart disease, the joy that kills.

  1. Describe in a short paragraph what you were experiencing while reading the story. Could you focus on any aspect of that experience for a longer article?
  2. Now read the story again. She briefly describes in short paragraphs how she might apply the following reader response approaches in a more formal article.


How does the story guide you in making certain assumptions about the way we should read the text? What gaps do you need to fill in to make sense of the story? Write a short ghost chapter describing the marriage between the wife and the husband (in the voice of the wife). Do the same, but this time with your husband's voice.


What identity themes might the story evoke in readers?


You began this exercise by writing down your reading experience. List possible interpretive communities that might find meaning in the story. An obvious example would be feminist critics trained to read a literary text through gender awareness.


Find contemporary reviews of "A Story of an Hour." How was it received? Why do you think this is such a canonical story in American literature?


How can the genre determine the interpretation of the story? Can a female reader respond differently to a male reader? History privileges heterosexuality: how can a gay or lesbian response be? Can race and class come into play?

Instructor Supplement: Classmate Review

  1. Have students conduct a peer review on one of the sample documents using the organization's peer review guide found atChapter 10 "Appendix A: Peer Review Sheets",Section 10.5 "Chapter 6: Reader Response":

    1. Divide students into groups of three or four and have them reread the article for peer review and complete the guide sheet.
    2. Ask students to discuss their feedback responses to the sample document.
    3. Ask students to list the key comments they discussed.
    4. Put the main themes on the board or blackboard.
    5. Discuss these answers. Be sure to let students know that any paper can be improved.
  2. Plan to have your students review the drafts of their work that they are writing in class. Use the peer review guideChapter 10 "Appendix A: Peer Review Sheets",Section 10.5 "Chapter 6: Reader Response"and ask them to work in groups of three and do the following:

    1. Bring two hard copies of your work so each member can read the work, OR work in a computer lab where students can share their work online. You can use educational software that is compatible with your campus, for example Blackboard or Moodle, or you can have students use Google Drive to set up their peer review groups.
    2. Ask two students to focus on the first task of the group. As these students read, have the other student read the work of the other two students.
    3. The two students should quickly complete the peer review sheet and then have a short conversation about the strengths of the work and how it could be improved.
    4. Move on to the next student and follow the same process. Depending on the length of your class, you may need to reduce the peer review groups to two students.
    5. If time allows, ask students to make general comments, or ask questions, about the specific roles or the task in general.
    6. You may want to use peer review for each paper in your class.

6.9Suggestions for further reading

Sources for Reader Response Reviews

Pale, David.Readings and Feelings: An Introduction to Subjective Criticism🇧🇷 Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1975.

———.subjective criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978.

Fish, Stanley.Is there text in this class? The authority of interpretive communities. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1832.

friend Elizabeth.Reader Comments: Critique of Reader Response. Londres: Methuen, 1987.

HollandNorman M.5 readers reading. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1975.

———.Dutch Guide to Psychoanalytic Psychology and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Iser, Wolfgang.The act of reading: a theory of aesthetic response. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980.

———.The implied reader: patterns of communication in prose fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979.

Sim, Hans Robert.Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982.

Machor, James.Reception Study: From Literary Theory to Cultural Studies. Londres: Routledge, 2000.

Mailloux, Esteban.Interpretive Conventions: The Reader in the Study of American Fiction. . . . Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1982.

McGregor, Graham y R. S. White, eds.Reception and response: creativity of the listener and analysis of oral and written texts. Londres: Routledge, 1990.

Phelan, James.Narrative as rhetoric: technique, public, ethics, ideology. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1996.

Rosenblatt, Louise.Making sense of texts: selected essays. New York: Reed-Elsevier, 2005.

———.The reader, the text, the poem. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1994.

Suleiman, Susan e Inge Crosman, eds.The reader in the text: essays on audience and interpretation. Princeton, Nueva Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1990.

(Video) How to Write a Reader Response Essay

Tompkins, Jane, ed.Critique of Reader's Response: From Formalism to Poststructuralism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980.


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