small logo Reader-Response Criticism

In the reader-response critical approach, the primary focus falls on the reader and the process of reading rather than on the author or the text.

Theoretical Assumptions:

Varying Emphases:

How readers interpret texts: Sometimes called "subjective." May deal with published "readings" of texts and/or study nonprofessional readings (e.g., students). These critics explain similarities in readings in varying ways:

How texts govern reader: Focus on how texts guide, constrain, control reading; often use linguistic, stylistic, narratological methods of analysis. Wolfgang Iser argues that the text in part controls the reader's responses but contains "gaps" that the reader creatively fills. There is a tension between

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Barbara F. McManus
Readings and Assignments
October 1998