Table of Contents
READING, WRITING AND RECEPTION
What is the significance of Reader Response Criticism?
Ans: Reader Respond Criticism focuses on reader’s response to literary text. It gives full freedom to reader to interpret the text. It is a broad, exciting, evolving domain of literary studies that can help us learn about our own reading process and how they relate to our experiences. Reader-response criticism covers a good deal of diverse ground like psychoanalytic criticism, feminist criticism, structural criticism etc.
Reader –response theory shares two beliefs that the role if the reader cannot be omitted from our understanding of literature and that readers do not passively consume the meaning presented to the text. Reader- respond criticism believes that the meaning of a text is affected by the factors like knowledge, experience, mood and purpose of readers so; the same reader may find different meanings in different time of reading.
Reader-response criticism emerged against New Criticism which denied the role of readers in finding meaning. New Criticism believed that the timeless meaning of the text is contained in the text alone. Its meaning is not a product of the author’s intention and does not change with the readers response. Reader-response Criticism believes that to drive the meaning of the text, there are certain readily conventions, and these conventions determine the ways we give meaning to the text. Literature exists only when it is read.
What is the role of the reader in determining the meaning?
Ans: The reader is to create or realize the meaning of a text. The reader plays effective and compulsory role to interpret the text. Without reader the text remains incomplete in providing its theme. It is the reader who reads the text and makes it active. A text is never sufficient and capable to deliver its message and ideas without readers’ interpretations. Reading is different all the time. Literary criticism can’t be objective. It is wrong to assume that the text will have single best interpretation. For the reader – response theory, the role of reader is compulsory and available in reading.
Different readers have different personality. They have their own social, cultural and psychological identity. A reader reads, feels, understands, realizes and interprets the text. Before a reader reads the text, it is found almost dead. Literature exists only when it is read. Writer himself does not give the life to his text. The text is full of dead letters before the reader approaches it. It is reader who gives meaning to the lifeless text. The readers have full freedom to give any shape to the text. Dead text is made active by the readers. The text can’t make it own sense.
Interpretation of any text gets affected by various factors. A single reader can be different from other readers in his class, age, sex, gender, nationality, religion, culture, unconscious and other social-practices reading a text is not a unified whole but it is contradictory. When the reader involves in interpretive process, he will definitely leave some traces of his/ her personality on the interpreted text.
Discuss reading and identity.
Ans: Interpretation of any text gets affected by various factors. A single reader can be different from other readers in his class, age, sex, gender, nationality, culture, unconscious and other social-practices. Reading a text is not a unified whole but it is contradictory. When the reader involves in interpretive process, he will definitely leave some traces of his/ her personality on the interpreted text. Different readers have different personality on the interpreted text. Different readers have different personality. They have their own social, cultural and psychological identity. A reader reads, feels, understands, realizes and interprets the text. Before a reader reads the text, it is found almost dead. Literatures exists only when it is read.
Psychological Reader Response Theory was developed by Norman Holland. He believed that reader’s motives strongly influence how they read. Holland focuses on what readers interpretation reveal about themselves. Holland employs psychoanalytic concepts and focuses on the psychological responses of readers. Holland believes that we react to literary texts with the same psychological responses we bring to events in our daily lives. The immediate is to fulfill our psychological needs and desires. When we perceive a textual threat to our Psychological equilibrium, we must interpret the text in some way that will restore that equilibrium. Holland calls that pattern of our psychological conflicts and coping strategies our identity theme. Our interpretations are products of the fears, defenses, needs and desires we project on the text. Interpretation is thus primarily a psychological process rather than and intellectual one. A literary interpretation may or may not reveal the meaning of the text, but to a sharp eye it always reveals the psychology of the reader. We unconsciously express our interpretations in aesthetic, intellectual, social moral abstractions to relive the anxiety and guilt our projections arouse us.
Social Reader Response Theory does not support individual subjective response. Stanley Fish is the exponent of social reader response theory. According to Fish, what we take to be our individual subjective response to literature are really products of the interpretive community to which we belong. Fish gives emphasis to the community that has the right to determine what with a purpose. Fish says that there is a great role of reader but they are not free from the community. These interpretive strategies always result from various sorts of institutionalized assumptions. Interpretive communities aren’t static; they evolve over time. And readers can belong, consciously or unconsciously, to more than one community at the same time.
Explain open and closed text.
Ans: A text is produced for the readers. All the texts can be approached and touched by all types of readers . Even the readers have some conditions and criteria to be possible or model readers. No text is final, complete and absolute in the absence of readers. The literary word is full of the gaps and omissions. Meaning of the text is a political variant. I t can never be corrected but only interpreted. The text itself can’t be corrected but reading of it can. All the times, there is a reader to interpret or fill the gaps of the text. The reader collaborates with the text collaborates with the reader in the production of meaning, fulfilling all the illusions.
Umberto Eco divides the text into open and closed texts. For him, the reader is an active principal of interpretation who can generate the text. The text is not complete in the hand of author only. Eco defines a model reader who can make sense of author’s codes. A model reader can go deep down to the mentality of the author, can interpret the text, the way it is prescribed. Sometime the author imagines or assumes a model of possible readers.
In the case of closed text there is no chance of unnecessary several interpretations. All the readers can’t feel, touch, and readers but not for average readers. A text which already gives proper space and value to the reader before its production is called closed text. To be a model reader or possible reader, a reader has to have some special qualification expected by the author. In contrast to close text, open is for average readers. Such a text does not choose the readers on their own interest. In case of open text, there is maximum probability of unnecessary interpretations.
Ronald Barthes divides the text into two categories: readable and unreadable. All the reader read equally all types of texts. for Barthes, reading is never complete and it can’t subjective, brief and pleasurable activities. We don’t read each part of the text with equal interest and involvement. Reading remains incomplete. Reading is for the sake of pleasure but critics do not give any space to the pleasure. That’s why reading is much looser and more haphazard activity.