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February 11, 2012

When the READER is > the Text or the Author: Reader-Response and Reception Theory


Image Source: http://utminers.utep.edu/omwilliamson/engl0310link/reader1.jpg

Habib, M.A.R. A History of Literary Criticism: From Plato to the Present. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005. ISBN:0-631-23200-1.

Lynn, Steven. Texts and Contexts: Writing about Literature with Critical Theory. 5th ed. New York: Pearson, 2008. ISBN: 032144907X.

Rivkin, Julie and Michael Ryan, eds. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2004. ISBN: 1405106964.

Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2006. ISBN: 0415974100.

[These are our four primary course texts on theory. The Rivkin and Ryan anthology contains your collection of primary sources about literary theory as written by the pioneers and theorists who helped develop them. Use the articles from the anthology (and any others I publish for you on our course libguides page) as your primary sources for your final mock conference papers].

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For more English-Blog entries on the topic of Critical Theory, please click HERE.

Posted by lhobbs at February 11, 2012 03:38 PM

Readers' Comments:

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ENG 435 Students of 2009,

See advice on improving this assignment at the entry on your last assignment HERE and/or in the e-mail I recently sent you as a mass-message.

In this entry, you will be entering:

[1] Your one self-designed reading-check question (short answer) based on the "overview" summaries of this theory you were assigned from various textbooks. Due in the comment box here AND in the appropriate folder on turnitin.com on the day BEFORE the class meeting they are to be used.

[2] Your one self-designed discussion question (longer answer) based on the application of specific terminology from this particular theory toward the primary works we have read for this course. Due in the comment box here AND in the appropriate folder on turnitin.com on the day BEFORE the class meeting they are to be used.

[3] your precis of the article assigned to you from the Rivkin and Ryan anthology about this particular theory. Due in the comment box below, in the appropriate folder on turnitin.com, AND as a hardcopy in class according to the deadline listed on our itinerary (see syllabus). Be prepared to discuss your article with the rest of the class.

Good luck,

Dr. Hobbs

P.S. Meanwhile, back at Wayne Manor . . .

At least one of you is doing a precis on an excerpt from Pierre Bourdieu's _Distinctions_. Has this seventeen-year-old high school student gotten it right?


Just for laughs!

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Ava L.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
4 February 2009
Reading Check Questions on Reader Response
1. Reader-response theorists share two beliefs about reading literature. What are they?
A. The role of the reader cannot be omitted from our understanding of literature.
B. Readers do not passively consume the meaning presented to them by an objective literary text; they actively make the meaning they find in literature.
2. How does the purpose for which you are reading affect the way you read the text? Give an example.
A. The purpose for which the reader is reading the text affects the reader’s response because it determines which way the reader will approach reading the text. An example of this would be the example provided in the Tyson text, home buyer vs. burglar.
3. Name Norman Holland’s three stages or modes that occur and recur as we read. Provide a brief description of each mode.
A. Defense Mode- This mode involves the increase in our psychologically defenses while reading the text.
B. Fantasy Mode- During this mode the reader attempts to interpret the text in a way that allows him to tranquilize those defenses that were raised during the first mode.
C. Transformation Mode- During this mode the reader focus on the literary analysis of the text solely in order to prevent the onset of anxiety or emotional involvement.

Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today. New York: Routledge, 2006. 169-190.

Posted by: Ava L. at February 4, 2009 09:46 AM

Jessica P.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
2/4/09

Short Answer/Discussion Questions

Q: Louise Rosenblatt created a theory that analyzes the transaction between the text and a reader. What is the name of this particular criticism?

A: Transactional Reader-Response

Q: Reader-response is such a broad literary critique, including readers’ ideas and experiences to interpret the text. Because of its wide scope, do other criticisms fall under this theory? If so, which ones and why?

A: Yes, all other theories can be considered a reader-response if the theory is applied to the reader himself.

Posted by: Jessica Pall at February 4, 2009 10:01 AM

Wesley Johnson
Hobbs
Eng 435
February 4, 2009

Reader response questions

What are the two beliefs that reader response theorists share?

According to Rosenblatt, two modes of interpretation exist. What are they and what do they mean?


What is resymbolization?

Posted by: Wesley J. at February 4, 2009 11:39 AM

Cecilia B
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
4th February 2009

1. In reader-response theory, what is the difference between the efferent mode of reading and the aesthetic mode?
- The efferent mode focuses on the information presented within the text. For example, an efferent approach perceives the text as a “storehouse of facts and ideas” (Tyson 173). On the other hand, through the aesthetic mode, a reader can experience a symbiotic relationship with the text by directing attention to the emotion present within the language and how it relates to oneself and encourages judgment.

2. What is “interpretative community” in regards to social reader-response theory?
- According to Stanley Fish (creator of the term), interpretive community refers to the conscious or unconscious awareness of a reader that his interpretations are part of a community of attitudes and philosophies established by various institutions (“for example, in high schools, churches, and colleges” [Tyson 185]). These interpretations are subject to change depending upon the new environment in which a reader is placed.

Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User Friendly Guide. 2nd Ed. New York:
Routledge, 2006.

Posted by: Cecilia at February 4, 2009 12:41 PM

Travis Rathbone
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
February 3, 2009

Reader-Response Discussion/Quiz Questions

Discussion Question:
When discussing Subjective reader-response theory, Tyson states that “readers’ responses are the text.” What does this statement mean?

There is no text beyond the meanings and interpretations that the readers place on it.

Quiz Question:
What is the difference between the efferent mode and the aesthetic mode?

When reading in efferent mode we focus on facts and ideas presented in the text. When reading in aesthetic mode we focus on the emotional subtleties the text’s language.

Posted by: Travis R at February 4, 2009 01:13 PM

Sarah Tatko
Dr. Hobbs
Eng-435
4 February 2009
Reader Response Questions
Reading Check:
Q – What are the two beliefs of Reader Response theory?
A – The first is that the reader’s role can’t be taken out of one’s understanding of literature, and the second is that readers actively make the meaning they find in literature.

Discussion:
Q – Tyson claims that “a written text is not an object”, what does she mean by this?
A – The text is created within the reader because it is their response that creates the text.

Posted by: Sarah T. at February 4, 2009 06:52 PM

Liz H


Dr. Hobbs


ENG 435


February 4, 2009


Reading Questions


1. Describe what the “identity theme’ found in psychological reader response means.


2. What is a flaw found in social reader response theory?

Posted by: Liz H at February 4, 2009 09:39 PM

Liz H


Dr. Hobbs


ENG 435


February 4, 2009


Discussion Question


1. In the Tyson text, what is affective stylistics?

Posted by: Liz H at February 4, 2009 09:40 PM

Ava L.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
9 February 2009

Precis of Reading Response Article: Corbett's Reason behind Figures of Speech

According to Edward P.J. Corbett, author of Classical Rhetoric, the use of figures of speech serves many purposes. Corbett asserts that figures of speech can be regarded as the “graces of language, dressing of thoughts, and embellishments” (Corbett 142). The use of figures “decorate and give style” (Corbett 142) to the prose. However, aside from the obvious, the use of figures can be a powerful tool at provoking emotion, attempting persuasion, revealing truth, and presenting credibility on the author’s behalf. They can also “increase our verbal resources” (Corbett 144). The two hundred or more figures of speech can be “classified into four categories: grammar, logos, pathos, and ethos” (Corbett 143). The categorizing of the figures of speech took place many years after using them had been into practice. In fact, Corbett asserts that “most students have been using some form of figures all of his life” (Corbett 143).

The term figures of speech imply “any deviation, either in thought or expression, from ordinary and simple method of speaking” (Corbett 143). Figures of speech can be divided into two groups, scheme and tropes. “Deviations in the ordinary pattern or arrangement of words” (Corbett 143) are termed as schemes. In contrast, tropes are “deviations from the ordinary and principal signification of a word” (Corbett 143). Both schemes and tropes involve some form of transference. The transference that occurs in a scheme affects “the order” (Corbett 143) while the transference in a trope affects “the meaning” (Corbett).

There are several forms of schemes including: “schemes of words, schemes of construction, schemes of unusual or inverted word order, schemes of omission, and schemes of repetition” (Corbett 144-53). Each subcategory of schemes serves a particular purpose in the use of rhetoric and grammar. Likewise, Tropes can also be subcategorized. “Metaphors and similes” (Corbett 153) are two subcategories of Tropes. These subcategories, like schemes, also serve a particular purpose in rhetoric and grammar. Schemes and tropes can be further divided into a variety of terms that are all aid in the makeup of figures of speech. Each part, whether by grouping or subcategorizing is an important part of using figures of speech.

Work Cited

Corbett, Edward P.J. “Classical Rhetoric”. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 142-61.

Posted by: Ava L. at February 8, 2009 03:24 PM

Sarah T.
Dr. Hobbs
Eng-435
9 February 2009

Précis: “Distinction” by Pierre Bourdieu

In 1979, Pierre Bourdieu wrote an article entitled “Distinction” which discusses the specifics of society and how it is classified. In doing this he applies these classifications to “taste” and how the different agents of society affect one’s taste. There is not a lot of focus on how classifications relate to the reading of literature but the brief explanation of taste reflects how it is relevant to literature because literature is a evaluated by taste.

According to Bourdieu it is the social classifications that develop and form one’s taste. Taste is to “differentiate and appreciate” an object (237). To break down further, this means that one must find distinctions between different objects and in the case of the reader response theory the object would be literature. Taste is a tool of social orientation which assists people in better understanding their proper social position. Social position and social classifications is what Bourdieu explores more in depth.

Social classifications are organized according to “habitus” which are the physical characteristics of a person and their way of life (Bourdieu 237). The habitus of an object is what creates its reality which is constructed of social schemes. Bourdieu lists common social themes and oppositions such as high, low, spiritual, material, fine, coarse, light, heavy, unique, common, brilliant, and dull. However, the most common opposition found in society is dominant and dominated; this is the basis and support of all the oppositions. It is important to understand these themes because they are the “qualifiers” of taste and when used in discourse (or literature) their meaning is created (Bourdieu 240).

The majority of the populations already understand the concept of the social order because it was taught to them by members of different classifications. An example provided is the “old” teaching the “young” and the young accepting what the old states because it is a pre-conceived notion of the classification that the old is wise. The classifications given to different objects, including people, creates their “social being” (Bourdieu 246). However, the classifications do not remain undisputed; in fact, they are constantly being fought over which helps to create new meanings, perceptions, and distinctions.

Work Cited

Bourdieu, Pierre. “Distinction.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 237-53.

Posted by: Sarah T. at February 8, 2009 05:13 PM

Wesley J.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
February 8, 2009

Précis of “Interpretive Communities”

Stanley Fish’s article “Interpretive Communities” seeks to explain the nature and problems of reader interpretation regarding texts. Initially he separates the notions of reading and writing a text. While most people regard the process of examining a text “reading,” Stanley Fish establishes that this is not so. Rather, fitting in with the reader response chapter, Fish emphasizes that the job of the reader is to “write” a text. That is, any reader actually creates the text. Readers give the words on a page meaning. Therefore, the official goal of Fish’s article is to explore why interpretations across different readers vary or are stable.

Before he can explore the communities from which interpretations arise, he explores how reader interpretation imbeds itself. In that, Fish notes two situations regarding reader interpretations. There exists a proclivity for the same reader to examine and determine differences between two different texts. That is, he will not maintain the same interpretations. However, different readers evoke the same interpretations on the same text. Fish explains this variety or stability as interpretive strategies.

Therefore, everything is interpretation. And, these interpretations give a text its shape (this is “writing” the text). A reader develops interpretive strategies any number of ways. Fish’s article is a little sparse in the explanation of this process, but he does note that they are learned. Also, he notes that interpretation is a defining characteristic of humans. There does not exist a point at which interpretations are not had by humans. Rather, our interpretations shift over time and can be stabilized, shifted, or disregarded. And, it is at this point that Fish explores the notion of interpretive communities.

Basically, communities exist of readers with shared interpretive strategies. But, Fish fails to fully explore the nature of these communities. Fish notes that it used to be thought that the text had a specific “meaning.” Fish disregards this. However, he does agree that certain “meanings” are only understood by certain readers. That is, those who have a particular manner of interpretation (which is shared with the author) pick up on certain textual happenings. This is because the author and reader are in the same interpretive communities. But, this doesn’t mean that there is any less validity in the interpretations of readers outside of the author’s community. But, in the end of the article Fish relegates deep exploration of communities to a few short paragraphs.

Work Cited

Fish, Stanley. “Interpretive Communities.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 217-221.


Posted by: Wesley J. at February 8, 2009 07:55 PM

Kristin B.

Dr. Hobbs

ENG 435

2/7/2009

Précis of “Not so much a Teaching as an Intangling”

Stanley Fish argued in the essay, “Not so much a Teaching as an Intangling” that John Milton manipulated his reader in Paradise Lost to emphasis morality. Fish stated that the poem’s center of reference and subject is the reader. Milton hoped to both educate and make aware the reader’s situation and responsibilities as a fallen man, and the poet hoped to reenact the fall within the mind of the reader and to remind the reader of Adam. Fish argued Milton deliberately used the reader’s response to Satan’s rhetoric to fall just as Adam did within Paradise Lost.

When the reader unavoidably succumbed to Satan’s rhetoric Fish stated the reader’s admiration for Satan’s language and style made the reader assent, lower his vigilance, and then the drama of Adam’s fall was recreated within the mind. Paradise Lost manipulated the reader’s responses. Milton not only told the story of Adam’s fall, but he also created the fall within the reader. Milton’s use of the “epic voice” created a pattern of allowing the reader to fall which lead the way to self knowledge within the reader (200). The poet then became the instructor, and the reader the pupil. Fish argued that the reader is taught to distrust his own perceptions; the hardest lesson of all.

The poet constantly corrected reader’s perceptions. Milton presented a “good temptation” by Satan’s rhetoric; which created a “split reader” because the reader responded to Milton’s poetic devices and the Christian doctrine (210-211). Fish declared that it created a discomfort within the reader in which he was consumed by sin and was unhappy with himself.

Work Cited

Fish, Stanley. “Not so much a Teaching as an Intangling.” Literary Theory: An Anthology 2nd ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. (City?), Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1998.
195- 216.


Posted by: Kristin B. at February 8, 2009 10:30 PM

Travis Rathbone

Dr. Hobbs

ENG 435

February 9, 2009

Reader Response Précis: the “Transcendental Aesthetic”

In “Transcendental Aesthetic,” Kant discusses, among many things, how perception affects the interpretation of objects. He states that objects are not necessarily what we think of them as being but how they appear—to us through our interpretation—to be. Kant places quite a bit of import on perception and how it affects the object being viewed, even going so far as to say if the way we perceive an object ceases to exists, the object itself will no longer exist; the object is only viewable because it is being perceived. We do not know what objects can be or what qualities they can possess outside of our realm of perception. Therefore, one of the greatest concerns, then, should be understanding how one perceives. We only know our perception of objects and nothing else; we will never know what objects are outside of our own perception. Kant gives the example of rain drops being subjected to how we perceive them and are nothing but what we perceive. He also states that we cannot perceive a higher form, and there is a perfect (transcendent) object that cannot be known.

Kant employs a very specific vocabulary to define his arguments: Intuition (also defined as pure intuition or a priori knowledge) is knowledge we know to be inherently true from the onset without having to subject it to tests, whereas empirical intuition (also know as a posteriori knowledge) requires some thought or precursory knowledge of the object. A true object is inherent in its intuition, not just in its appearance. If we treat empirical intuition (knowledge that we obtain only through thought and precursory knowledge) as mere appearance, we run the risk of knowing something by appearance (what is on the surface of the object and nothing deeper) only and not truly knowing the object.

We can only know something through experience, not relations. Kant attributes relations to the inner-self as feelings, will, and knowledge. He states we only have an appearance of the inner-self or we have no inner-self at all. Kant also mentions we must have an idea of what something is before we can obtain that object. Thus, we have an idea of what the end goal is before we achieve it, and when we achieve it, the object is as it appeared to us (as we perceived it as being) before we achieved it and not as it truly is. He also states that objects are not illusions because there is something present. However, we should differentiate between an object’s appearance and its essence.

Work Cited

Kant, Immanuel. "Transcendental Aesthetic." Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd Edition.
Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 131-36.

Posted by: Travis Rathbone at February 9, 2009 10:36 AM

Liz H.


Dr. Hobbs


ENG 435


February 8, 2009

Précis of “Text and System” by John Frow

John Frow presents his argument that text and works of literature have an interworking relationship in his essay, “Text and System” (1986). Throughout his article, he cites the classic examples of Don Quixote and The Iliad as texts upon which writers have made constant revisions. With each new century comes a new mode of thought and literary practice, and because of this, our literary style changes as well.

Frow focuses his argument on Cervantes’s Don Quixote and Homer’s The Iliad as classic examples of how, throughout the years, these works have changed subtly because of different literary systems and practices. Citing the work of critic Stanley Fish, Frow argues that there is a relationship between language and the dominant culture. Literature and culture work together in a relationship of mutual influence. Word choice, for example, is different in a Renaissance version of Don Quixote and a current one. As the reader reads, the text is transformed into something different, thus forming an intertextual relationship. However, Frow’s argument is much deeper than simply stating that works have changed throughout the years. Frow states that Don Quixote is not only a great work of literature; but it is also a complex mixture of the Spanish and English language available at that time. It serves as a cultural and linguistic landmark, of sorts. Language, by the author’s choice of words, becomes an economic system because the author has the ability to choose one word over another. Finally, for Frow, reading a text is not simply reading. One must continuously deconstruct what the text means by examining the text, the author, and the overall intent and pervading culture.

Frow’s article is relevant to our studies, especially because he attempts to ascertain the importance of the relationship between the reader and his text. His examples are well-known, which helps in our ability to understand his argument in the midst of something overwhelming verbose.

Work Cited

Frow, John. "Text and System." Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd Edition. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 222-36.

Posted by: Liz H. at February 9, 2009 10:37 AM

Cecilia B
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
10th February 2009
Précis of Robert Lanham’s “Tacit Persuasion Patterns”
In his article on the implied rhetorical effects of prose patterns, Robert Lanham explores how various linguistic schemes contribute to a reader’s persuasion. Lanham defends that readers are naturally drawn to symmetry in language by correlating patterns to implicit logic; clichés, for example, become overused because of their attractiveness to logical control. Additionally, Lanham evaluates such linguistic techniques like repetition, alliteration, chiasmus, isocolon, and anaphora to prove his claims and especially borrows recognized political aphorisms from Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, and the Declaration of Independence for support. Chiasmus, Lanham states, is “X-form logic” (181) because it presents antithetical principles in an ABBA pattern (reversed phrasing) explicated by Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country” (180). However, Lanham notes that inversion is not the only structure which is appealing. Isocolon, he illustrates, are phrases of equal length and corresponding structure which employs the ABAB design scheme as in “Let not thy will roar when thy power can but whisper” (182). Anaphora, on the other hand, has a similar opening pattern which is used to build a straightforward climax: “We shall…we shall…we shall” (Chrurchill qtd. in Lanham 183). What’s more, lists offer the same clear-cut climax and tacit logic that can be accepted and followed once read. Such is the case with the catalogued statements made in the Declaration of Independence. At the close of his article, Lanham also supplies a “Brief Glossary of Rhetorical Terms” which contains such words as ethopoeia, paramologia, and zeugma to further provide linguistic patterns.

Lanham, Robert. “Tacit Persuasion Patterns.” Literary Theory: An
Anthology. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. New York: Blackwell
Pub., 1998. 177-194.

Posted by: Cecilia at February 9, 2009 12:25 PM

Jessica P.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
2/8/09

Précis: How to Do Things with Words

J.L Austin, a 20th century philosopher, states that language is made up of performative utterances, in which people do not merely say something but act on it. Not describing, reporting, or being true or false, an utterance of a sentence is the doing of an action. However, it is necessary that the circumstances in which the words are uttered are appropriate. In his article, How to Do Things With Words, Austin states that in no case does one say that the utterance was false but rather that the promise was invalid.

Under appropriate circumstances, performative utterances cannot be true or false; however, the doctrine of infelicities states that things can be and do go wrong. Austin describes six infelicities which affect utterances. Rules A.1 and A.2 focus on the accepted procedure of the utterance, where with appropriate application the conditions must be conventional with specific words being said by certain persons in particular circumstances. B.1 and B.2 state that the utterance must be completed by the participant both correctly and completely. Finally, I.1 and I.2 state that the situation must be correct for a participant with certain thoughts, ideas, and feelings where everyone appropriately conduct themselves.

Utterances cannot be true or false, but if the six rules presented are broken, then the utterances transcend into an unhappy state. Austin states that all conventional acts are subject to infelicity with exception for extenuating circumstances. To further distinguish between the A and B rules, the terms misinvocation and misapplication are applied to the A rules and misexecutions is applied to the B rules.

Austin, J. L. “How to do things with Words”. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 162-176.

Posted by: Jessica Pall at February 9, 2009 01:19 PM

Wesley Johnson
Hobbs
Eng 435
10 February 2009
Interpretive Communities within Oz
Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz contains much of the arguments from Stanley Fish’s article “Interpretive Communities.” Specifically, Fish’s notion of stratification between humans (as interpreters) is illuminated within Oz. That is, a text, or in the case of The Wizard of OZ, the world of the characters, is created by a set of interpretations (Fish 218). And, those interpretations can be drastically separatist for human beings if they are not shared. Therefore, within the Wizard of Oz, the shared or unshared interpretations of characters illustrate Stanley Fish’s portrait of the significance of interpretations.
However, before one examines the communities of interpretation at play within Oz, it is easier to note the interpretations and strategies behind them that support the communities presented by the film. To begin simply, one need only examine the names of characters within Fleming’s film to see evidence of interpretation. Most notably, the names the Wicked Witch of the West, Glenda the Good Witch, and the powerful Oz are interpretations held by citizens. Noting the range of interpretations these names evoke furthers the implications of the titles as interpretations. For example, the notion of the green witch as being “wicked” is in itself neutral. That is, wicked is a word which I (or the characters in the film) have supplied the meaning for (Gregory Maguire this in the novel Wicked). Similarly, Glenda’s good status is only existent because it is prescribed by the inhabitants of Oz. One could easily view these titles as not meaning anything; and, especially in an altered universe like Oz, one might expect this. Therefore, interpretations provide meaning. That is, interpretations provide the view one takes of things (Fish 219). These interpretations can be shaped any number of ways. Perhaps one developed that the green witch was wicked from her propensity for fleshy discoloration. Or, as is the case with Dorothy’s line “There’s no place like home” (Fleming), one could even have learned interpretations from family.
Interpretive communities arise when groups of individuals agree on a similar interpretation. In The Wizard of Oz, this is an explanation for the regard that the Wicked Witch receives. She is what her name implies because the city has warranted it such. If wicked were simply part of her name it obviously wouldn’t have a negative connotation. Again, the characters’ names are such because society within the film has provided it. From this notion, an interesting interpretive community arises out of the film involving the viewer. Because the viewer and characters within the film operate on the same notion of language (a shared set of interpretations itself), the reader is in a community of interpretation with the citizens of Oz. Arising from our understanding of titles like wicked, good, or powerful, the viewer shares in the interpretations of the Ozians.
“Interpretive communities” is not an article that pinpoints explicit literary conventions. Rather, it is an abstract system of development and understanding. Virtually everything that occurs in Fleming’s film can be examined as having been developed by interpretive communities. Even the fact that the movie was actually created warrants examination with this community notion in mind (produces, directors, and film-goers had to all agree that The Wizard of Oz was worth making or viewing). Therefore, the interpretive communities as exemplified by Fleming’s work should illustrate that in all literature, everything is interpretation. Nothing is concretely developed for the reader. Rather, the reader (or viewer) creates the text on his own accord.

Works Cited
Fish, Stanley. “Interpretive Communities.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd Ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 218-221
The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: Wesley J at February 10, 2009 10:50 PM

Dr. Hobbs,
I don't remember if I already attempted to post this. So, here it is again.

Wesley Johnson
Hobbs
Eng 435
10 February 2009
Interpretive Communities within Oz
Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz contains much of the arguments from Stanley Fish’s article “Interpretive Communities.” Specifically, Fish’s notion of stratification between humans (as interpreters) is illuminated within Oz. That is, a text, or in the case of The Wizard of OZ, the world of the characters, is created by a set of interpretations (Fish 218). And, those interpretations can be drastically separatist for human beings if they are not shared. Therefore, within the Wizard of Oz, the shared or unshared interpretations of characters illustrate Stanley Fish’s portrait of the significance of interpretations.
However, before one examines the communities of interpretation at play within Oz, it is easier to note the interpretations and strategies behind them that support the communities presented by the film. To begin simply, one need only examine the names of characters within Fleming’s film to see evidence of interpretation. Most notably, the names the Wicked Witch of the West, Glenda the Good Witch, and the powerful Oz are interpretations held by citizens. Noting the range of interpretations these names evoke furthers the implications of the titles as interpretations. For example, the notion of the green witch as being “wicked” is in itself neutral. That is, wicked is a word which I (or the characters in the film) have supplied the meaning for (Gregory Maguire this in the novel Wicked). Similarly, Glenda’s good status is only existent because it is prescribed by the inhabitants of Oz. One could easily view these titles as not meaning anything; and, especially in an altered universe like Oz, one might expect this. Therefore, interpretations provide meaning. That is, interpretations provide the view one takes of things (Fish 219). These interpretations can be shaped any number of ways. Perhaps one developed that the green witch was wicked from her propensity for fleshy discoloration. Or, as is the case with Dorothy’s line “There’s no place like home” (Fleming), one could even have learned interpretations from family.
Interpretive communities arise when groups of individuals agree on a similar interpretation. In The Wizard of Oz, this is an explanation for the regard that the Wicked Witch receives. She is what her name implies because the city has warranted it such. If wicked were simply part of her name it obviously wouldn’t have a negative connotation. Again, the characters’ names are such because society within the film has provided it. From this notion, an interesting interpretive community arises out of the film involving the viewer. Because the viewer and characters within the film operate on the same notion of language (a shared set of interpretations itself), the reader is in a community of interpretation with the citizens of Oz. Arising from our understanding of titles like wicked, good, or powerful, the viewer shares in the interpretations of the Ozians.
“Interpretive communities” is not an article that pinpoints explicit literary conventions. Rather, it is an abstract system of development and understanding. Virtually everything that occurs in Fleming’s film can be examined as having been developed by interpretive communities. Even the fact that the movie was actually created warrants examination with this community notion in mind (produces, directors, and film-goers had to all agree that The Wizard of Oz was worth making or viewing). Therefore, the interpretive communities as exemplified by Fleming’s work should illustrate that in all literature, everything is interpretation. Nothing is concretely developed for the reader. Rather, the reader (or viewer) creates the text on his own accord.


Works Cited
Fish, Stanley. “Interpretive Communities.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd Ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 218-221
The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: Wesley J at February 11, 2009 11:10 AM

Brooke King
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
13 February 2012
Q: Bleich sees the reader's response evolving by ____________ within a community of readers, and Rosenblatt focuses on the _______________ between the text and the reader.
A: negotiation, transaction (Lynn 70).
Q: "Real objects are physical objects, such as tables, chairs, cars, books, and the like. The printed pages of a literary text are real objects. However, the experience created when someone reads those printed pages, like language itself, is a symbolic object because it occurs not in a physical world but in the conceptual world, that is, the mind of the reader." What type of literary theory is being described and to whom is it attributed?
A: Subjective reader-response theory by David Bleich (Tyson 178).

Posted by: Brooke King at February 12, 2012 02:25 PM

Travis N. Rathbone
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 435
12 February 2012

Reader Response Discussion Questions

Q: What assertion does “the house passage” help illustrate concerning reader-response theory?

A: Readers draw on their personal experiences to create meaning in (and from) the text (Tyson 172).


Q: According to Stanley Fish, what is an interpretive community?

A: An interpretive community is defined as a collection of readers who share interpretive strategies that are the result of institutional assumptions about literature (Tyson 185).

Posted by: Travis N. Rathbone at February 12, 2012 09:18 PM

Question 1:
According to Bleich, “Every act of response reflects the shifting motivations and _____________ of the reader at the moment.”
Answer: PERCEPTIONS
(Lynn 69)
Question 2:
What is the terminology that this definition, according to Lynn, defines:
“discrete blocks of electronic text (or other media) networked together”
Answer: HYPERTEXTS
(Lynn 72)

Posted by: Tiffany Carpenter at February 12, 2012 10:00 PM

Douglas Phillips
Dr. Hobbs
Critical Theory
13 February 2012

Q. What were some of the criticisms of New Criticism as outlined by Stephen Lynn?
A. New Criticism was detached from everyday reality, was outmoded, forced specific points of view on the author and the reader, and created the impression that literary study had no real-world value. From “Creating the Text” pg. 68:
New Criticism has seemed to some to encourage the divorce of literature from life and politics, indirectly reinforcing the status quo. By the standards of New Criticism, any literary work that takes a strong position ought somehow to acknowledge the opposing point of view… by assuming that literary language is fundamentally different from ordinary language, New Criticism may further tend to support the idea that literary study has little or no practical value but stands apart from real life… like an intellectual exercise (Lynn).

Q. According to Rivken and Ryan, “Aristotle noticed that a work of literature is as remarkable for its ________ as its _______” (Theory 128). (Hint: Reader Response vs. New Criticism: Plato)
A. “Aristotle noticed that a work of literature is as remarkable for its effects as its causes” (Theory 128).

Posted by: Douglas Phillips at February 13, 2012 01:27 AM

Emmanuel Cruz
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
February 13, 2012
Questions
- According to transactional theorists, different readers come up with different interpretations of a text. Why can they come up with different interpretations if they are applying the same theory? A literary text allows for a range of acceptable meanings, that is, a range of meanings for which textual support is available. (174)
- Why is a text examined closely, often line by line? A text is examined closely, often line by line, in order to understand how (stylistics) it affects (affective) the reader in the process of reading. (175)

Posted by: Emmanuel Cruz at February 13, 2012 08:02 AM

Q: According to Rivkin/Ryan, what receded in importance as a result of the development of science and more refined forms of mathematical logic? A: Rhetoric.

Q: According to Rivkin/Ryan, what did Positivism replace rhetoric with from its central place in the humanities in education with? A: The scientific method and the study of positive facts.

Posted by: Diego Pestana at February 13, 2012 02:01 PM

Tiffany Anne Carpenter
Dr. Hobbs
Eng 435- Literary Criticism
13 February 2012
Application 1: The Intentional Fallacy in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
William K. Wimsatt defines the intentional fallacy of a poet as examining what the poet “intended in” according to the “design or plan in the author’s mind…[and] the author’s attitude toward his word, the way he felt, [and] what made him write.” (4). The issue with this approach, Wimsatt and Beardsley argue, is that readers can never really know the true meaning behind the author’s intentions and are often confused by their focus on his intentions, rather than using the text itself for evidence and other critical examinations. Another key element, is that Wimsatt and Beardsley focus their argument on the work of poets because of the portrayal of their use of diction, etc. It becomes challenging, then, to apply an examination of the role of intentional fallacies in a work such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby because of the obvious difference in form, with Gastby’s elaborate prose. However, some similarities and connections can indeed be drawn between the two.
For example, examining the biography of Fitzgerald can provide insight into the reader’s understanding of the work, especially when making judgments about the various characters. As readers, we can make assumptions about Fitzgerald’s choices to establish Nick Carraway as an outside narrator who is looking in on the life of Tom, Daisy, the various people in East and West Egg, and especially Jay Gatsby. Nick acts as this unreliable narrator who comments on the inner-workings of those around him, guiding the reader to have certain perspectives on the characters, namely Gatsby.
If one were to attempt to apply the various techniques of evidence that Wimsatt and Beardsley point out, it would be difficult to establish them because of the type of novel that Fitzgerald creates with The Great Gatsby. For example, examining the role of public, internal, and intermediate evidence throughout the work rely only on Nick’s commentary of what is happening in Gatsby’s life and journey to establish himself in town and win Daisy over. The reader is only given limited perspectives and most of the evidence relies solely on the text itself, causing the reader to assume that Nick’s perceptions are those intended by Fitzgerald and thus personal to his motives as an author. Using the text itself, allusions can easily be examined, however, their intentions from the author are much more difficult to assess. In this respect, although The Great Gatsby is not a work of poetry that meets all of the standards that Wimsatt and Beardsley mention, it still can have certain aspects of the rules they point out regarding the intentionally fallacy by ensuring that the reader views the work from an internal standpoint of the text, finding connection with literary elements and evidence, rather than searching for the ambiguous intentions of the author.


Works Cited
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. 1925. New York: Scribner, 1999. Print.
Wimsatt, William K. and Monroe C. Beardsley. “The Intentional Fallacy.” The Verbal Icon. 1954. Rpt. In The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. Ed. Daivd H. Richter. Boston: Bedford, 1998. 748-56. Print.

Posted by: Tiffany Carpenter at February 13, 2012 02:02 PM

Students,

Here are your self-designed questions, rephrased as they appear on the reading check with the answers. Please strive for this format for your future self-designed reading check questions.

Dr. Hobbs

1. Q: According to Rivkin/Ryan, what receded in importance as a result of the development of science and more refined forms of mathematical logic?
A: Rhetoric.

2. Q: According to Rivken and Ryan, “Aristotle noticed that a work of literature is as remarkable for its ________ as its _______” (Hint: Reader Response vs. New Criticism: Plato)
A: “Aristotle noticed that a work of literature is as remarkable for its effects as its causes” (Rivken 128).

3. Q: According to Rivkin/Ryan, what did Positivism replace rhetoric with from its central place in the humanities in education with?
A: The scientific method and the study of positive facts.

4. Q: What were some of the criticisms of New Criticism as outlined by Stephen Lynn?
A. New Criticism was detached from everyday reality, was outmoded, forced specific points of view on the author and the reader, and created the impression that literary study had no real-world value. From “Creating the Text” pg. 68: New Criticism has seemed to some to encourage the divorce of literature from life and politics, indirectly reinforcing the status quo. By the standards of New Criticism, any literary work that takes a strong position ought somehow to acknowledge the opposing point of view… by assuming that literary language is fundamentally different from ordinary language, New Criticism may further tend to support the idea that literary study has little or no practical value but stands apart from real life… like an intellectual exercise (Lynn 68).

5. Q: According to Bleich, “Every act of response reflects the shifting motivations and _____________ of the reader at the moment.”
A: PERCEPTIONS (Lynn 69)

6. Q: What is the terminology that this definition, according to Lynn, defines:
“discrete blocks of electronic text (or other media) networked together”
A: HYPERTEXTS (Lynn 72)

7. Q: Bleich sees the reader's response evolving by ____________ within a community of readers, and Rosenblatt focuses on the _______________ between the text and the reader.
A: negotiation, transaction (Lynn 70).

8. Q: What assertion does “the house passage” help illustrate concerning reader-response theory?
A: Readers draw on their personal experiences to create meaning in (and from) the text (Tyson 172).

9. Q: According to transactional theorists, different readers come up with different interpretations of a text. Why can they come up with different interpretations if they are applying the same theory?
A: literary text allows for a range of acceptable meanings, that is, a range of meanings for which textual support is available. (Tyson 174)

10. Q: Why is a text examined closely, often line by line?
A: A text is examined closely, often line by line, in order to understand how (stylistics) it affects (affective) the reader in the process of reading. (Tyson 175)

11. Q: "Real objects are physical objects, such as tables, chairs, cars, books, and the like. The printed pages of a literary text are real objects. However, the experience created when someone reads those printed pages, like language itself, is a symbolic object because it occurs not in a physical world but in the conceptual world, that is, the mind of the reader." What type of literary theory is being described and to whom is it attributed?
A: Subjective reader-response theory by David Bleich (Tyson 178).

12. Q: According to Stanley Fish, what is an interpretive community?
A: An interpretive community is defined as a collection of readers who share interpretive strategies that are the result of institutional assumptions about literature (Tyson 185).

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at February 13, 2012 04:10 PM

Brooke King
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
15 February 2012
Harkin's The Reception of Reader-Response Theory
Harkin's main point that she begins with is why is Reader Response theory not widely used and that the historical evidence that surrounds the use of important Reader Response texts is a crucial to understanding why it is and is not well received in the English departments. What happened to Reader Response theory? Harkin states that the one answer could obviously be that Reader-response is a concept of obvious assumption used in cultural studies that has translated to other avenues of theory and performance within English studies. Since all reader have become commonplace, it is assumed that not everyone will come up with the same reading of a text. Harkin sites Holland as an example as to why during the mid-70's readers ascribed multiplicity amidst individual readings. While Harkin sites Fish's account of interpretive communities as a way to help explain how groups of people develop the same reading of a text. Harkin also sties Rosenblatt in order to explain why particular texts are cited and taken as primary use within English studies. She delves further by explaining the affect-the practice of a reader making meanings of a text. She argues that because this has become commonplace within academia, it has cease to become excited and has, as a result, become less favorable. However, what caused this? Harkin explains that the two movements of Reader-response, the boom in the late 70's that also encompassed many other theories and the movement that happened in the late 60's- early 70's influenced the change. These two movements that popularized the theory are charged with beating it like a dead horse until the theory no longer became exciting to use in scholastic English studies. In short, the theory become so common that it became easy to use and in academic market, the degree of difficulty equals with the aesthetic value in the academia. Basically, if the average person can understand it, then the theory no longer becomes academic. Harkin argues that when reader-response explained what happens when people read, it made reading easy and teachable, making reading no longer an art, but a commonplace value that everyone can obtain. This is the primary reason for the downfall of reader-response theory. Harkin also provides as answer as to why the theory fell: (1) the fear of change and (2) the fear of losing or not attaining professionalism within English Studies. While the fear restricted the number of people who are allowed to make such scholastic inquires into texts using this theory, it also allowed for the study of the effects of language on reader, which Fish uses for his studies. Thus, when academia began to use the theory widely to make teaching text easier, the scholastic side of the theory began to deteriorate in authenticity, making many scholastics weary about using it for scholarly inquiries. The use of the theory to help student write better rather than apply the theory lead to use its association with pedagogy. Many of the original theorist separated themselves from the pedagogical implications of the theory completely. As the pedagogical use of the theory became more prominent, young teachers sought to professionalize themselves by familiarizing with theories that most could not understand in order to strive for professionalism within the scholastic readership, losing the gap with which reader-response is suppose to be used. The shift in use has lead students to replace what the texts meaning is with what they believe the text is saying, displacing the language and form for which the text is given in. Harkin ends by saying that the only way to fix the problem that is plaguing the theory is that professors must be willing to teach the theory better .

Work Cited
Harkin, Patricia. "The Reception of Reader-Response Theory." College Composition and
Communication 56.3 (2005): 410-25. JSTOR. Web. 13 Feb. 2012.

Posted by: Brooke King at February 14, 2012 09:59 PM

Travis N. Rathbone
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 435
15 February 2012

Reader Response Précis: “Towards a Transactional Theory of Reading”

In the essay “Towards a Transactional Theory of Reading,” Louise M. Rosenblatt elucidates her conception of reading as a transactional process. To begin, Rosenblatt defines several of key terms readily used within the Reader Response movement. Text is defined as a series of signs the reader interprets as linguistic symbols. In other words, the text is in reference to what is actually written on the page. Poem, on the other hand, designates the interaction—and the meaning derived therein—between the reader and the text. Rosenblatt warns against the proclivity of substituting the term author for the term reader and against believing the reader simply seeks to decode the poem as a hearer would. However, the end to which a reading ultimately derives is an interaction between the text and the reader. There is no other interaction in a reading. From here, Rosenblatt defines aesthetic and non-aesthetic processes of reading.

When reading with an aesthetic aim, the reader is conscious of his interaction with the text and is ultimately concerned with the quality and the outcome of this interplay. When engaged in this form of reading, no one other than the reader can interpret the work for him nor experience the substance produced. The “non-aesthetic” form of reading is one Rosenblatt describes as instrumental. Here, the reader does not have the same vested interest in the experience as he would if reading with an aesthetic purpose in mind. Instead, the primary goal of this form of reading is focused on what remains, what was learned, after the reader engages with the text (e.g. instructions to be followed, information to be gleaned, etc.).

After parsing the above definitions, Rosenblatt begins elucidating her transactional view of reading. A reader’s past experiences and present expectations coupled with the text’s verbal context impress meaning on the system of signs produced within a given work. This process gives rise to a new and unique experience with the text; ultimately, a wholly new product emerges. This encounter occurs because the reader interprets (or acts upon) the text, and the text elicits (or acts upon) a response from the reader. Adopting the terminology utilized by John Dewey and Arthur F. Bentley, Rosenblatt considers this interaction between the text and the reader to be transactional in nature.

By virtue of the relationship to the text, a person becomes a reader; concordantly, the text becomes a poem by virtue of its relationship with the interpreter. The transaction that occurs between reader and text is an event that takes place at a specific point in the life of the reader, incorporating past experiences as well as present interests. Ultimately, the possibility remains that the printed marks on the page will be interpreted as alternate linguistic symbols by alternate readers; in this way, there is a potential that each interaction between reader and text will produce a unique and original experience that has never been constructed in the past and will never again come into being.

Work Cited
Rosenblatt, Louise M. “Towards a Transactional Theory of Reading.” Journal of Literacy
Research 1.1 (1969): 31-49. Sage Journals. Web. 15 February 2012.

Posted by: Travis N. Rathbone at February 15, 2012 09:55 AM

Tiffany Anne Carpenter
Dr. Hobbs
Eng 435- Literary Criticism
15 February 2012
Précis 2: Not so much a Teaching as an Intangling by Fish
In “Not so much a Teaching as an Intangling,” Stanley Fish examines John Milton’s work, Paradise Lost, and attempts to examine the work from a reader-response approach by making a series of arguments which include that that Milton’s purpose is to “re-create in the mind of the reader the drama of the Fall” (195). He points out that “the disparity between intention and execution becomes a disparity between reader expectation and reading experience” (196). As a result, the reader is assumed to bring in their own notions, assumptions, and experiences into their reading and interpretation of the work. Fish goes on to argue that Milton is specifically engaging the reader and guiding the reader to focus on key elements, concepts, and even worries; drawing the reader into a state of confusion and uncertainty of whether or not they are able to, in fact, accurately read the poem. He explains that there is a sense of “deep distrust, [and] even fear, of verbal manipulation” in which the reader is forced to feel when thrown into the journey of Paradise Lost (197). To emphasize this tool used by Milton, Fish highlights that there are essential aspects of Paradise Lost that leave the reader confused, that highlight a “forgetfulness,” and a sense of ambiguity. Furthermore, the reader is drawn so much into the work by the form in which Milton portrays his tale of Adam and Eve that they are submersed as an active reader without a sense of time, reality, or even physical space and sensory details. Fish’s ultimate argument leads the reader to question whether or not they believe the workings of Satan and the Fall of Adam and Eve as portrayed by Milton and how well he does as an author to convince them of his possible intended messages. In addition, there is the overall question of whether or not Milton even had specific intentions for the reader because, as Fish points out, Milton’s focus seems to merely be on the poem itself, rather than the experience and knowledge that the reader would gain from having read it, especially if taken to the next level of meaning with the issues of sin, innocence, corruption, and if the reader has a choice in any of those matters at all.

Work Cited
Fish, Stanley. “Not so much a Teaching as an Intangling.” 1967. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd Ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 195-216. Print.

Posted by: tiffany carpenter at February 15, 2012 01:48 PM

Brooke King
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
17 February 2012
What Happened to Reader-Response in Academia?
In Patricia Harkin's essay, "The Reception of Reader-Response Theory," she bravely concludes her essay by stating that" discussions of reading have been so thoroughly conflated with discussions of teaching literature... that a pedagogical or curricular decision not to teach literary texts in writing courses became or entailed a decision not to teach reading" (421). While I believe Harkin does have a valid point, from a student perspective, she is somewhat off the mark. Reading-Response Theory, while noted to be infused in most of academia as commonplace, is used quite readily to teach students how to read and what to spot in the reading that they can pull from their own experiences in order to link the literary text to cultural ties within society.
Harkin's point about discussions of reading being thoroughly mixed up with discussion of teaching literature is correct. In today's modern English studies at Saint Leo University, the pedagogical approach to reading a text has been confused with the teaching of literature. Reader-response has become, in a sense, an automatic and habitual familiarity for which most professorial institutions have clutched to as a mainstay theory to use within the classroom because of its easy application to text. While this is a highly overused and incorrect application of Reader-Response Theory to text, the use of Distant Learning Courses by universities has exacerbated this underlying issue of using Reader-Response within the English studies curriculum. As a result, student who are both presented with the text and notes on the text by the professor, whom has shaped the text through the automatism of Reader-Response in academia, have conflicting experiences with the text. However, the challenging aspect of reader-response within such a text online then becomes: how does a professor exchange the concepts and ideas without subliminally altering the students reader-response to the text in the ancillary material and discussion of the literary text?
The answer becomes clarified when looking at the definition of Reader-Response Theory. David Bleich constitutes that students will collectively share their response to the text in order to find a common ground from which each student learns from each other's responses. The discussion itself should be formed around the student's response to the text and not the professor, as the professor is already knowledgeable of the text. However, the absence of a physical discussion hinders an interaction between the professor and the students and the verbal interaction with other students that would limit the professors interference with the collective community response of the students. However, the professor is allowed intercede in the discussion, rendering the use of Reader-response application in Distant Learning classes misrepresented. It is this misrepresentation of the application that leads the students to ultimately reject their response to the text and a conjoining of the professors view of the text with their own. The result leads to the further misinterpretation of the theory by students. This cycle of inappropriate application in academia is made defective ever more so by the fact that the student is not receiving the professor reader-response criticism to the text in person. In the classroom, students reader-response application to the text is being distorted by the professors own interpretations of the text. Instead of the text engaging the student into a deeper meaning of the text, the student is being forced away from their interpretation by a scholarly professor. This is something that Harkin notes at the end of her essay, that in order for the misinterpretation of the theory to stop within the professoriate capacity, the professional prominence of academia would have to be substituted with willingness to teach better.
In courses with select literary topics and texts online, such as World Literature, the sole interpretation of the text and its meanings are made intentionally clear before hand through introductory material. Let's look at a World Literature course online that is discussing Beowulf. A discussion question is posted by the professor online, in a forum the week that the course engages the text, that asks, "Gaining fame, fate and destiny is Beowulf's primary purpose throughout his life. Using examples, prove that Beowulf did whatever was necessary to seek and achieve this purpose"(Wells). When looking at core of the question, the professor has already established a reading response to Beowulf and has incorporated their interpretation of the text into a discussion about their response. While it is an informed discussion about the literary text, the class is geared towards students who are not experts at literary analysis. It is a survey course and as such, it is questionable that these students would have an informed way of knowing how to read a text through a literary theory lens. Furthermore, in my experience within such a course, answering the question in terms of my own experience with the text rendered many of my fellow students to comment on my post. However, the professor instructed me that such a response did not accurately define what the discussion was about. Knowing about Reader-Response Theory, I knew that the discussion amongst the students was beneficial in the subjective negotiation of the text. However, this sort of engaged reader-response by the professor before the text is engaged by the student, diminishes a student's application, therefore, invalidating their experience with the text. However misrepresented Reader-Response is in Distant Learning English studies, the main universities curriculum still implements discussions based upon the students reader-response to the text even though the students response is biased by the professors prior
Harkin's conclusion that the decision not to teach literary text also resulted in the decision not to teach reading is also slightly off base. At Saint Leo University's main campus, the English studies department is thoroughly engaging the students application by implementing discussion of the reading of the text and there by teaching the literary text through reading-responses viewed in the eyes of the student and not the professor. Nevertheless, there are short comings to this approach as well. It is the concept of having too many chiefs and not enough braves. By having professors taking a hands-off approach to the students informed reading of the text, the professor has allowed for less credited literary interpretations of the text to be counted as valid within the classroom. While students may have a reading-response to the text, it does not necessarily make their response to the text valid. What seems problematic about using Reader-Response within academia is a pedagogical approach of allowing uninformed readings to go unchecked by professors. If any student is to profit off the community collective response of informed literary view of the text is given, it should be through the reader's ability to read with the correct use of the Reader-Response theory.
While there can be no decisive way in order to teach and experience reader-response in the classroom, Harkin's conclusion on Reader-Response in academia does fail to recognize that the process of teaching reader-response is cyclical, stemming back to the students response to the text and the professor's obligation to foster an academic environment that creates growth and awareness of the literary texts used within English studies. In short, it is academia's responsibility to make sure that the pedagogical approach to Reader-Response is carried out correctly throughout English studies, whether through Distant Learning or not. It should not be used as an automatic educational device within classrooms to teach literary text. Whether such a task can be carried out is far out of the realm of a student's ability to discern. Yet, the future of academics is still uncertain and the use of Reader-Response Theory in curriculum can be transformed through the conscious knowledge of current academia's curricular shortcomings in the use of Reader- Response Theory.

Work Cited
Harkin, Patricia. "The Reception of Reader-Response Theory." College Composition and Communication 56.3 (2005): 410-25. JSTOR. Web. 13 Feb. 2012
[Name removed for anonymity]. "Discussion Question Week 5." Web log comment. Saint Leo University. eCollege, 6 Feb. 2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2012. .

Posted by: Brooke King at February 19, 2012 04:51 PM

Tiffany Anne Carpenter
Dr. Hobbs
Eng 435- Literary Criticism
20 February 2012
Intangled into the Web of Allegory
According to Stanley Fish in his article, “Not so much a Teaching as an Intangling,” the author frequently manipulates the reader and ensures an ambiguity that leaves their reader confused or uncertain. It taken to the next level, this search for truth can be one that includes deception, confusion, and of course, the necessary suspension of disbelief. For example, consider Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” where he describes the people that are trapped inside the cave, unable to discern the difference between the shadows they see on the wall and the reality that one of them comes to find when they escape and make it out into the outside, physical world, only to come back and be unable to convince the others of that reality. In Plato’s allegory, there is this emphasis placed on these infinite abstractions in forms where everything seems to be an illusion. If considered through a lens like Fish, one can easily see the connection to Plato confusing his reader and providing them with an entanglement of words where they find themselves unable to fully understand what they are reading and are constantly reminded by the author that they might be incorrect and are going to ultimately be unable to comprehend what they are being told through the work. There is this inevitable question in Plato’s theory of the cave of what becomes reality and what is the misconception of reality; where the two collide and what the reader (and audience) perceives as understanding and the truth. For Fish, Plato’s main purpose would be to in fact, continue to further confuse his audience and cause them to question what they were actually able to understand from the allegory and in turn, what they were able to understand of their own reality. Fish would argue that the audience is being drawn in by Plato’s dialogue on the allegory of the cave and that he is actively engaging them in the work, while manipulating them at the same time. This is furthered by Fish’s argument that there is an implied distrust and fear on the reader’s (and audience’s) part because of the fear of being miscommunicated to and fear of not being able to rely on the author. In the end, the reader or audience makes connections and relationships to their own experiences in order to discern what they are able to take away from the work, in this case Plato’s allegory, and how convinced they are by the author to believe what he has highlighted for them throughout the work.


Work Cited
Fish, Stanley. “Not so much a Teaching as an Intangling.” 1967. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd Ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 195-216. Print.

Posted by: tiffany carpenter at February 20, 2012 02:08 PM

Fish and Fences: Incorporating Interpretive Strategies
In his selection, “Interpretive Communities,” Stanley Fish outlines his concept of what makes up a reading experience with his idea of interpretive strategies, which make up a part of larger interpretive communities. For Fish, interpretive strategies on the part of the reader are what dictate how a work is “produced.” This idea corresponds with Fish's notion that it is the reader that “writes” the text through the interpretive strategy he or she employs in their reading. When it comes to August Wilson's Fences, interpretive strategies on the part of the reader (in this case, me), as outlined by Fish, become evident after some analysis.
In his selection, Fish writes about his reading experience of John Milton's Lycidas. In that experience, Fish writes about how in entering his reading of the poem, he had already made two interpretive decisions. Fish writes that those decisions were, “(1) that Lycidas is a pastoral and (2) that it was written by Milton” (217). By laying out these decisions, Fish attempts to illustrate how they play a part in his larger interpretive strategy. In reference to this point, Fish writes that, “Once these decisions have been made . . . I am immediately predisposed to perform certain acts” (217). What this means is that Fish goes into his reading of the poem already with certain ideas in mind about what the work is about and what its message might be.
Similar to how Fish enters his reading of Lycidas with certain predispositions, so do I in my reading of Fences. Before I started reading the play, I already had certain knowledge of it which created an expectation on what the play's intentions may be. For example, I knew that the playwright, August Wilson, was an African American who grew up at the pinnacle of the Civil Rights Movement. And I knew that the play was about an African American family set in the 1950s, when blacks were still heavily discriminated against. These predispositions, or interpretive decisions, had me entering my reading of Fences with the idea that Wilson's intention in writing the play was probably to illustrate the hardship of a lower-working class African American family in the 50s and how different family members dealt with issues of race and patriarchy. These interpretive decisions I made going to my reading can be compared to ones I made of a different play, one that Fences is often compared to, Death of a Salesman.
In his essay, Fish too writes about how he had different interpretive decisions made going into different works. However, where some critics may see this as reason to dismiss an analysis predicated on the reader, Fish uses that fact to establish his claim that it is “because my predisposition to execute different interpretive strategies will produce different formal structures” (218). This ties in with Fish's idea that it is the reader's interpretive strategies, and the interpretive communities as a larger whole, that “write” the text.
When I entered my reading of Death of a Salesman, my predispositions, or interpretive decisions, were very different than that of Fences. I knew that the play was written by Arthur Miller, a renown American playwright. I knew that the play was set during the 1940s. And I could deduce from the title that the play was about some kind of businessman or entrepreneur and that the word “death” indicated an unhappy ending.
Already it becomes evident of how different my interpretive strategies were. In beginning my reading of Fences, I was expecting a play to be heavy in racial undertones and that, given the ethnicity of the writer, there may be some message about the rampant racism of the time. However, entering my reading of Death of a Salesman, there did not exist any expectation of racial themes of any kind. These two distinct approaches are examples of interpretive strategies that play an important role in creating a larger interpretive community, which Fish writes, is “made up of those who share interpretive strategies . . . for writing texts” (219). Therefore, the approaches I brought with me to each reading of each respective play were a part of my “writing” of the text.

Works Cited

Fish, Stanley. “Interpretive Communities.” 1976. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden : Blackwell, 2004. 217-21. Print.
Wilson, August. Fences. 1983. New York: Theatre Communications, 2007. Print.

Posted by: Diego Pestana at February 20, 2012 02:23 PM

Travis N. Rathbone
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 435
20 February 2012

To Seek our Pale Enchanted Gold: A Transactional Approach to The Hobbit

Though critics might consider Reader-Response Criticism’s usefulness waning, a few interesting insights can still be uncovered if one simply looks in the right places. By analyzing Louise M. Rosenblatt’s transaction theory in application to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, something of interest comes to light pertaining to the transaction between the text and of the reader. In order for this exercise to hold any relevance, however, a certain multifaceted glimpse at Tolkien’s story must be included. Instead of relying on one adaptation of the source material, this essay will take into account three versions of the same work to play with the notion of whether these versions are actually similar at all.

In her seminar “Towards a Transactional Theory of Reading,” Louise M. Rosenblatt holds the position that the meaning of a work is produced when the reader works in unison with the text. Ultimately, both players contribute to the shaping of the product: “Thus the ‘meaning’ of any element in the system of signs in the text is conditioned not only by its verbal context, but also by the context provided by the reader’s past experience and present expectations and purpose” (Rosenblatt 42-43). This interaction—the reader and the text acting upon each other—provides significance and meaning to the series of symbols on the page; the work, then, emerges from this significance. Because no individual shares either an identical history or present expectations, it follows that any work constructed vis-à-vis the transaction between reader and text will be uniquely individual and will never be reproduced. Rosenblatt follows this line of reasoning by stating that “the coming together of a particular text and a particular reader creates the possibility of a unique process, a unique work” (Rosenblatt 43). This creates a unique situation for the reader. He is reading a wholly distinctive work that he will never again be able to encounter. Indeed, the next time he attempts such an interaction with the text his past experiences will have been enhanced and his intentions will have been altered.

The reader’s contribution to the transaction between reader and text seems as straight forward as it is crucial. Understanding how a reader’s past experience and present intent shapes the creation of the work in which he is engaged is the subject of much interesting analysis; however, the text’s contribution to the transaction, opposed to that of the reader’s contribution, will be the main point of interest here. This contribution is especially salient in its application to J. R. R. Tolkien’s original material and its subsequent adaptations.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is a masterpiece of the fantasy genre that has been appreciated by generations of young readers. The work exists in a myriad of mediums, and each adaptation lends itself to differing interpretations. The song “Over the Misty Mountains Cold” will be utilized here to exemplify the textual differentiations between adaptations with the goal of uncovering the text’s transactional contribution. Within the initial scenes of the animated version of The Hobbit by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass, the first few lines of the song “Over the Misty Mountains Cold” can be heard in an effective and interesting way. The narrator uses several random lines from the song to build the plot and progress the story. Thorin Oakenshield and his gang of dwarves are seated at Bilbo’s table, recruiting him as a burglar for their impending adventure. The narrator relays the back story to the audience using the lyrical rhyme of the song. For the sake of brevity, the animation chose several choice lines instead of including the lyric in its entirety. At the narration’s climax, Thorin and the other dwarves begin singing in unison: “We must away, ere break of day, / To win our harps and gold from him” (Rankin/Bass). For this adaptation, the song is used to provide backlog and hint at future adventurous endeavors; however, the interpretation of the song has an aspect of the whimsical. The ominous nature of the song is practically nonexistent, and the way in which it is sung does not carry with it a serious undertone. The way in which the animated adaptation handles the song is drastically different from the audio book version narrated by Rob Inglis.

Rob Inglis’ version of “Over the Misty Mountains Cold” is definitely more serious in tone than its Rankin/Bass counterpart. It carries with it the full weight of the message being relayed. Additionally, the audio book is unabridged, and therefore the song is presented in its entirety as no lyric is excluded. Inglis’ dry, unwavering voice conveys a somber intensity that is heightened by his baritone vocals. The original source material presents the most reader intensive transaction with the text. The reader lifts the text from the pages of the novel, and meaning and significance are in place vis-à-vis the reader’s intentions. Whereas the other two mediums force the reader to experience the song in a predetermined way, the novel allows the reader more play with his interpretation.

Though the reader interacts alternately with the text in each medium, it is the text’s interaction that is worth noting here. In each case the text contributes something different to the transaction, and thus the meaning contained within the transaction will be different each time. The animated version of the text encompasses the greatest possibility to contribute a whimsical nature to the text, and this section of the novel can definitely be read in that way. The audio book, however, does seem to champion a more sincere and layered experience. In the case of the novel, the text and the reader have the most interaction, for there is less outside influence obstructing the transaction from taking place. In the case of each version, the text posits drastically different systems of symbols for the reader to interpret, and these systems are present in spite of the shared source material. Though the story is the same, the produced work will be different via the system of symbols formed by the text. In this way, the transaction between reader and text will produce entirely different works regardless of the common narrative.

Works Cited
Bass, Jules, & Rankin, Jr., Arthur, dirs. The Hobbit. Rankin/Bass Productions, 1977. Film
Rosenblatt, Louise M. “Towards a Transactional Theory of Reading.” Journal of Literacy Research 1.1 (1969): 31-49. Sage Journals. Web. 20 February 2012.

Posted by: Travis N. Rathbone at February 20, 2012 09:28 PM

Travis N. Rathbone
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 435
20 February 2012

To Seek our Pale Enchanted Gold: A Transactional Approach to The Hobbit

Though critics might consider Reader-Response Criticism’s usefulness waning, a few interesting insights can still be uncovered if one simply looks in the right places. By analyzing Louise M. Rosenblatt’s transaction theory in application to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, something of interest comes to light pertaining to the transaction between the text and of the reader. In order for this exercise to hold any relevance, however, a certain multifaceted glimpse at Tolkien’s story must be included. Instead of relying on one adaptation of the source material, this essay will take into account three versions of the same work to play with the notion of whether these versions are actually similar at all.

In her seminar “Towards a Transactional Theory of Reading,” Louise M. Rosenblatt holds the position that the meaning of a work is produced when the reader works in unison with the text. Ultimately, both players contribute to the shaping of the product: “Thus the ‘meaning’ of any element in the system of signs in the text is conditioned not only by its verbal context, but also by the context provided by the reader’s past experience and present expectations and purpose” (Rosenblatt 42-43). This interaction—the reader and the text acting upon each other—provides significance and meaning to the series of symbols on the page; the work, then, emerges from this significance. Because no individual shares either an identical history or present expectations, it follows that any work constructed vis-à-vis the transaction between reader and text will be uniquely individual and will never be reproduced. Rosenblatt follows this line of reasoning by stating that “the coming together of a particular text and a particular reader creates the possibility of a unique process, a unique work” (Rosenblatt 43). This creates a unique situation for the reader. He is reading a wholly distinctive work that he will never again be able to encounter. Indeed, the next time he attempts such an interaction with the text his past experiences will have been enhanced and his intentions will have been altered.

The reader’s contribution to the transaction between reader and text seems as straight forward as it is crucial. Understanding how a reader’s past experience and present intent shapes the creation of the work in which he is engaged is the subject of much interesting analysis; however, the text’s contribution to the transaction, opposed to that of the reader’s contribution, will be the main point of interest here. This contribution is especially salient in its application to J. R. R. Tolkien’s original material and its subsequent adaptations.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is a masterpiece of the fantasy genre that has been appreciated by generations of young readers. The work exists in a myriad of mediums, and each adaptation lends itself to differing interpretations. The song “Over the Misty Mountains Cold” will be utilized here to exemplify the textual differentiations between adaptations with the goal of uncovering the text’s transactional contribution. Within the initial scenes of the animated version of The Hobbit by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass, the first few lines of the song “Over the Misty Mountains Cold” can be heard in an effective and interesting way. The narrator uses several random lines from the song to build the plot and progress the story. Thorin Oakenshield and his gang of dwarves are seated at Bilbo’s table, recruiting him as a burglar for their impending adventure. The narrator relays the back story to the audience using the lyrical rhyme of the song. For the sake of brevity, the animation chose several choice lines instead of including the lyric in its entirety. At the narration’s climax, Thorin and the other dwarves begin singing in unison: “We must away, ere break of day, / To win our harps and gold from him” (Rankin/Bass). For this adaptation, the song is used to provide backlog and hint at future adventurous endeavors; however, the interpretation of the song has an aspect of the whimsical. The ominous nature of the song is practically nonexistent, and the way in which it is sung does not carry with it a serious undertone. The way in which the animated adaptation handles the song is drastically different from the audio book version narrated by Rob Inglis.

Rob Inglis’ version of “Over the Misty Mountains Cold” is definitely more serious in tone than its Rankin/Bass counterpart. It carries with it the full weight of the message being relayed. Additionally, the audio book is unabridged, and therefore the song is presented in its entirety as no lyric is excluded. Inglis’ dry, unwavering voice conveys a somber intensity that is heightened by his baritone vocals. The original source material presents the most reader intensive transaction with the text. The reader lifts the text from the pages of the novel, and meaning and significance are in place vis-à-vis the reader’s intentions. Whereas the other two mediums force the reader to experience the song in a predetermined way, the novel allows the reader more play with his interpretation.

Though the reader interacts alternately with the text in each medium, it is the text’s interaction that is worth noting here. In each case the text contributes something different to the transaction, and thus the meaning contained within the transaction will be different each time. The animated version of the text encompasses the greatest possibility to contribute a whimsical nature to the text, and this section of the novel can definitely be read in that way. The audio book, however, does seem to champion a more sincere and layered experience. In the case of the novel, the text and the reader have the most interaction, for there is less outside influence obstructing the transaction from taking place. In the case of each version, the text posits drastically different systems of symbols for the reader to interpret, and these systems are present in spite of the shared source material. Though the story is the same, the produced work will be different via the system of symbols formed by the text. In this way, the transaction between reader and text will produce entirely different works regardless of the common narrative.

Works Cited
Bass, Jules, & Rankin, Jr., Arthur, dirs. The Hobbit. Rankin/Bass Productions, 1977. Film
Rosenblatt, Louise M. “Towards a Transactional Theory of Reading.” Journal of Literacy Research 1.1 (1969): 31-49. Sage Journals. Web. 20 February 2012.

Posted by: Travis N. Rathbone at April 2, 2012 05:50 PM

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