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READER-ORIENTED

CRITICISM
A CLOSER LOOK…

• does not provide us with a unified body of theory or a single


methodological approach for textual analysis
• Critics believe that a literary work's interpretation is created when
a reader and a text interact or transact, these critics assert that the
proper study of textual analysis must consider both the reader and
the text, not simply a text in isolation.
• Only in context, with a reader actively involved in the reading
process with the text, can meaning emerge.
READER + TEXT = POEM (MEANING)
• The reader, including his or her view of the world,
background, purpose for reading, knowledge of the world,
knowledge of words, and other such factors
• The text, with all its various linguistic elements
• Meaning, or how the text and the reader interact or
transact so that the reader can make sense of the printed
material
METHODOLOGY

• Structuralism
• Phenomenology
• Subjective Criticism
STRUCTURALISM

• approach textual analysis as if it were a science.


• look for specific codes within the text that allow meaning
to occur (e.g. Red light and sirens)
• The text becomes important because it contains signs or
signals to the reader that have preestablished and
acceptable interpretations.
NARRATOLOGY
• Founded by Gerard Prince in the 1970s
• the process of analyzing a story using all the elements
involved in its telling, such as narrator, voice, style, verb
tense, personal pronouns, audience, and so forth.
• the narrative itself - that is, the story-produces the
narratee.
• Such narratees may include the real reader, the virtual
reader, and the ideal reader
PHENOMENOLOGY

• is a modem philosophical tendency that emphasizes the


perceiver.
• Objects can have meaning only if an active consciousness
(a perceiver) absorbs or notes their existence.
• The true poem can exist only in the reader's
consciousness, not on the printed page.
HANS ROBERT JAUSS
• emphasizes that a text's social history must be considered when
interpreting the text.
• critics must examine how any given text was accepted or received
by its contemporary readers.
• reception theory - readers from any given historical period devise
for themselves the criteria whereby they will judge a text.
• horizons of expectation - include all of a historical period’s critical
vocabulary and assessment of a text
• Because each historical period establishes its own horizons of
expectation, the overall value and meaning of any text can never
become fixed or universal; readers from any given historical period
establish for themselves what they value in a text.
WOLFGANG ISER
• believes that any object-for example, a stone, a house, or
a poem-does not achieve meaning until an active
consciousness recognizes or registers this object.
• the critic's role is to examine and explain the text's effect
on the reader.
• Implied Reader v Actual Reader
• texts, in and of themselves, do not possess meaning.
• When a text is concretized, the reader automatically views
the text from his or her personal worldview.
SUBJECTIVE CRITICISM

• places the greatest emphasis on the reader in the


interpretative process
• the reader's thoughts, beliefs, and experiences play
a greater part than the actual text in shaping a
work's meaning
NORMAN HOLLAND
• believes that at birth we receive from our mothers a primary
identity. We personalize this identity through our life's
experiences, transforming it into our own individualized
identity theme that becomes the lens through which we see
the world.
• Textual interpretation becomes a matter of working out our
own fears, desires, and needs to help maintain our
psychological health.
• A reader, transforms a text into a private world, a place where
the reader works out (through the ego) his or her fantasies,
which are actually mediated by the text so that they will be
socially acceptable.
QUESTIONS FOR ANALYSIS
• Who is the actual reader?
• Who is the implied reader?
• Who is the ideal reader?
• Who is the narratee?
• What are some gaps you see in the text?
• Can you list several horizons of expectations and
show how they change from a particular text's
beginning to its conclusion?
• Using Jauss's definition of horizons of expectation, can
you develop (first on your own and then with your
classmates) an interpretation of a particular text?
• Can you articulate your identity theme as you develop
your personal interpretation of a particular text?
• Using Bleich's subjective criticism, can you state the
difference between your response to a text and your
interpretation?
• In a classroom setting, develop your class's interpretive
strategies for arriving at the meaning of a particular text.
• As you interpret this text, can you cite the interpretive
community or communities to which you, the reader,
belong?