Reader Response Criticism
Definition of Reader Response Criticism - Find the source here
Keywords: affective fallacy, formalist, reader, literary work as an object, gaps to be filled/connected, implied reader, identity theme, interpretive communities, interpretive strategies, reader oriented criticism, horizon of expectations, subjectivist
Reader-response criticism encompasses various approaches to literature that explore and seek to explain the diversity (and often divergence) of readers' responses to literary works. (Why not artworks as well?)
Louise Rosenblatt is often credited with pioneering the approaches in Literature as Exploration (1938). In her 1969 essay "Towards a Transactional Theory of Reading," she summed up her position as follows: "A poem is what the reader lives through under the guidance of the text and experiences as relevant to the text." Recognizing that many critics would reject this definition, Rosenblatt wrote, "The idea that a poem presupposes a reader actively involved with a text is particularly shocking to those seeking to emphasize the objectivity of their interpretations." Rosenblatt implicitly and generally refers to formalists (the most influential of whom are the New Critics) when she speaks of supposedly objective interpreters shocked by the notion that a "poem" is cooperatively produced by a "reader" and a "text." Formalists spoke of "the poem itself," the "concrete work of art," the "real poem." They had no interest in what a work of literature makes a reader "live through." In fact, in The Verbal Icon (1954), William K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley used the term affective fallacy to define as erroneous the very idea that a reader’s response is relevant to the meaning of a literary work.
keywords: experimenters, uniformists, individualists, processes of reading, expanded understanding
One can sort reader-response theorists into three groups: those who focus upon the individual reader's experience ("individualists"); those who conduct psychological experiments on a defined set of readers ("experimenters"); and those who assume a fairly uniform response by all readers ("uniformists"). One can therefore draw a distinction between reader-response theorists who see the individual reader driving the whole experience and others who think of literary experience as largely text-driven and uniform (with individual variations that can be ignored). The former theorists, who think the reader controls, derive what is common in a literary experience from shared techniques for reading and interpreting which are, however, individually applied by different readers. The latter, who put the text in control, derive commonalities of response, obviously, from the literary work itself. The most fundamental difference among reader-response critics is probably, then, between those who regard individual differences among readers' responses as important and those who try to get around them.
Reader-response critics hold that, to understand the literary experience or the meaning of a text, one must look to the processes readers use to create that meaning and experience. Traditional, text-oriented critics often think of reader-response criticism as an anarchic subjectivism, allowing readers to interpret a text any way they want. They accuse reader-response critics of saying the text doesn't exist. (Reader-response critics respond that they are only saying that to explore someone's literary experience, one must ask the someone, not pore over the text.) By contrast, text-oriented critics assume that one can understand a text while remaining immune to one's own culture, status, personality, and so on, and hence "objectively".
To reader-response based theorists, however, reading is always both subjective and objective, and their question is not "which" but "how".[clarification needed] Some reader-response critics (uniformists) assume a bi-active model of reading: the literary work controls part of the response and the reader controls part. Others, who see that position as internally contradictory, claim that the reader controls the whole transaction (individualists). In such a reader-active model, readers and audiences use amateur or professional procedures for reading (shared by many others) as well as their personal issues and values.
Another objection to reader-response criticism is that it fails to account for the text being able to expand the reader's understanding. While readers can and do put their own ideas and experiences into a work, they are at the same time gaining new understanding through the text. This is something that is generally overlooked in reader-response criticism.