The Reader Response Critical School

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The Reader-Response critical school focuses on the participation of the reader with the text and how her participation in the reading process affects a discussion of the text’s meanings. Though critics within the school lie on a spectrum with extremes that define the reader as passive or active, all can agree, the reader is integral to the reading process. The latter see readers as active creators of meaning (Staton 351). David Bleich falls on this end of the spectrum and his work underscores the subjectivity of critical interpretation by discussing that, the “observer is always part of what is being observed” (201). Consequently, he asserts that the study of literature cannot be independent of the study of people involved with it, so literature must be studied as a relationship between either the artist or writer and the work or between the reader and the work (Bleich 203). Because of this style of analysis, interpretations of the same work often vary and take different directions. Various factors influence this process, including whether or not the reader has discussed the work before, or if she will discuss the work in the future, the type of text being read, as well as other factors. With these features in mind, compounded with the critical work of Bleich and others, as well as personal experiences with reading, it seems no text is exempt from such considerations. The reader will always help construct the text through the reading process because personal thoughts, experiences, and biases cannot be fully separated from the time one reads the text and from the text itself. Many times, one of the most significant aspects of reader participation in the reading process is how the reader is affected by the potential for future disc... ... middle of paper ... ...rself but also what information she has been offered about the text. The Reader-Response critical school works with different perspectives and many types of readers, but the most significant aspect of the school is that it acknowledges the integral part a reader plays within the reading process. A reader will always construct the text she reads, whether consciously or not, because of the subjective nature of interpretation. A reader is never a cold, detached person – she is always connected to the world around her, as well as to emotions and perceptions within her. Therefore, the reading process is always affected by personal thoughts, experiences, and biases at any given time of reading. The interactions between the reader and the work that then follow, are essential to the understanding of the text, as subjectivity is an apparent, valid aspect of textual analysis.
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