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Volume :27 Issue : 105 2009      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

Reassessing Reception Theory and Reader-Response Criticism

Auther : Mahmoud Salami

 The article explores how the reception theory and the reader-response criticism is still a necessity even at the turn of the 21st century, with the culture of the Internet in which it is assumed that information can be retrieved from books or computers, that human beings still make meanings by the dynamic process of interpretation rather than being passive retrievers of meanings. It remains true that the readers perception of a literary work determines the formation of that work. The way in which we respond to literature or what really literature does to us and how readers become the true writers of the texts they read will always be a valid question. This essay revolves around the contention of the power of the reader in the text and the entire dynamism of the act of reading itself, and how meanings are formulated and infinitely reformulated by readers.
In rereading many 20th-century reception theorists, this paper foregrounds how the reader is deeply involved in a
transactional experience while reading: both the text and the reader play roughly equal parts in the interpretive process; the reader is granted a greater degree of co-partnership with the text: the reader is liberal, flexible, open-minded and is prepared to put his/her own beliefs or societies into question and allow them to be interrogated, deconstructed and transformed. Reading is a variable, complex matter, which accepts the disruptions and dissonances to be expected in any work of art. The overarching role and value of reader-response criticism and reception theory is certainly indispensable to fully comprehend a literary text and understand its relationship to our own life. This essay answers the question of how the various theories discussed here seem to prune their own differences and coalesce and converge together into producing a momentum into the forceful freedom of the reader. Reading and critical textual analysis now become an aesthetic experience as well as a socio-political endeavour whereby both the reader and the text combine in the consciousness of the reader to create such text, the poem, the novel or literary criticism. This essay proves this point through investigating both the historical and philosophical connections that exist and can still be further made among traditional reception theorists and the most modern ones who all work together to foreground the important role of the reader within the discipline of literary criticism.

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