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ENGL301: Introduction to Literary Theory

Unit 6: Reader-Response Paradigms   This short unit will familiarize you with literary theories that emphasize the centrality of the reader of a literary text, including the reader’s assumptions and interpretive strategies and how these and similar influences contribute to the production of literary meaning. 

Unit 6 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 11.5 hours.

☐    Subunit 6.1: 4.5 hours ☐    Subunit 6.1.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 6.1.2: 0.5 hours

☐    Subunit 6.1.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 6.1.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 6.2: 4 hours ☐    Subunit 6.2.1: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 6.2.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 6.2.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 6.3: 3 hours ☐    Subunit 6.3.1: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 6.3.2: 1.5 hours 

Unit6 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • define the nature and function of the reader-response paradigm;
  • provide an explanation of the origins of reader-response theory and its relationship to the schools of critical thought that influenced it, including phenomenological literary theory, the Geneva School, and hermeneutics; and
  • explain critic Stanley Fish’s concept of interpretive communities as well as Wolfgang Iser’s notion of the dialectical relationship between reader and text.

6.1 Phenomenological Literary Theory   6.1.1 Roots in Edmund Husserl’s Theories   - Reading: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory: “Phenemenology” and The University of Tennessee’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Marianne Sawicki’s “Edmund Husserl”

Link: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher
Brown’s *Glossary of Literary
Theory*: [“Phenomenology”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Phenomology.pdf) (PDF)
and The University of Tennessee’s *Internet Encyclopedia of
Philosophy*: Dr. Marianne Sawicki’s [“Edmund
Husserl”](http://www.iep.utm.edu/husserl/) (HTML)  

 Instructions: Access the readings, beginning with the short
definition of *phenomenology*, followed by the *Internet
Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s *entry on philosopher Edmund Husserl.
As you read about Husserl, pay close attention to the mention of his
contributions to phenomenological theory.  
    
 Reading these sections should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: The linked material from the *Glossary of Literary
Theory* above has been reposted by the kind permission of Greig E.
Henderson and Christopher Brown, and can be viewed in its original
form
[here](http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/glossary/Phenomenology.html).
Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be
reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the
copyright holder. For the entry from the *Internet Encyclopedia of
Philosophy*, please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed
on the webpage above.

6.1.2 The Geneva School: Key Figures and Concepts   - Reading: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory: “Geneva School”

Link: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher
Brown’s *Glossary of Literary Theory*: [“Geneva
School”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Geneva-School.pdf) (PDF)  

 Instructions: Read the brief definition of the *Geneva School* for
a basic introduction to this school and its theories.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following questions:
What is the function of the reader, according to the Geneva School?
And how did this school of theorists see the function of a literary
work?  

Reading this section should take approximately 30 minutes.


 Terms of Use: The material linked above has been reposted by the
kind permission of Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown, and can
be viewed in its original form
[here](http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/glossary/Geneva_School.html).
Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be
reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the
copyright holder. 

6.1.3 Emmanuel Lévinas   - Reading: Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and Information: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Bettina Bergo’s “Emmanuel Lévinas” Link: Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and Information: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Bettina Bergo’s “Emmanuel Lévinas” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the encyclopedia entry on Lévinas, giving particular attention to section 5, titled “Transcendence as the Other-in-the-same.”
 
Following your reading, consider answering the following questions: What are Lévinas’s positions when it comes to the relationship between language and being? Where does meaning or signification originate, according to Lévinas?
 
Reading this entry should take approximately 1.5 hours.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.1.4 An Immanent Reading of the Text   - Reading: Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and Information: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart’s “Theodor W. Adorno;” and The Marxists Internet Archive: Encyclopedia of Marxism’s “Glossary of Terms:” “Critique” Link: Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and Information: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart’s “Theodor W. Adorno” (HTML); and The Marxists Internet Archive: Encyclopedia of Marxism’s “Glossary of Terms:” “Critique” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Review the entry on Adorno, who is strongly associated with immanent criticism. As you read this time, focus on the section of the entry titled “Dialectic of Enlightenment” for a specific discussion of immanent criticism. Also read the Encyclopedia of Marxism’s glossary entry titled “Critique,” paying particular attention to the entry’s discussion of the concept of immanent critique.
 
Following your reading, consider answering the following questions: What is the dialectic of enlightenment that Adorno posits? How does this concept help us to interpret literature?
 
Reading these sections should take approximately 1.5 hours.

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

6.2 Hermeneutics   6.2.1 What Is Hermeneutics?   - Reading: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory: “Hermeneutics”

Link: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher
Brown’s *Glossary of Literary
Theory*: [“Hermeneutics”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Hermeneutics.pdf) (PDF)  

 Instructions: Read the encyclopedia definition of *hermeneutics*
for a brief introduction to the theory.

Following your reading, consider answering the following question:
How does an understanding of hermeneutics help us to interpret
literary texts?  
    
 Completing this reading should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: The material linked above has been reposted by the
kind permission of Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown, and can
be viewed in its original form
[here](http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/glossary/Hermeneutics.html).
Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be
reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the
copyright holder. 
  • Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 3: Ways In and Out of the Hermeneutic Circle”

    Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 3: Ways In and Out of the Hermeneutic Circle” (YouTube)

    Also available in:
    HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and Quicktime
     
    Instructions: Watch the 47-minute lecture. Note that a transcript, audio MP3 file, and QuickTime and Flash versions of the video are available on Yale’s Open Yale Courses website, also linked above.

    After watching the lecture, consider answering the following question: What exactly is a hermeneutic circle?
     
    Watching this lecture should take approximately1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

6.2.2 Hermeneutics: Theories of Language and Interpretation   - Reading: Boston University: Dr. Wesley Wildman’s “Hermeneutics: Introduction” and “Hermeneutics: The Birth of a Discipline;” David Weininger’s “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology”

Link: Boston University: Dr. Wesley Wildman’s [“Hermeneutics:
Introduction”](http://people.bu.edu/wwildman/WeirdWildWeb/courses/wphil/lectures/wphil_theme19.htm#Hermeneutics:%20Introduction) (HTML)
and [“Hermeneutics: The Birth of a
Discipline”](http://people.bu.edu/wwildman/WeirdWildWeb/courses/wphil/lectures/wphil_theme19.htm#Hermeneutics:%20The%20Birth%20of%20a%20Discipline) (HTML);
David Weininger’s [“Hermeneutics and
Phenomenology”](http://people.bu.edu/wwildman/WeirdWildWeb/courses/wphil/lectures/wphil_theme19.htm#Weininger%20H%20and%20P) (HTML)  

 Instructions: Read each of the three sections of the webpage on
hermeneutics.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following questions:
Given your coursework in this theory thus far, what does the term
*hermeneutics* mean to you? What are the various theories about
language that are discussed in this reading?  

 Reading these sections should take approximately 1.5 hours.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

6.2.3 Literary Study in the Institution   - Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 24: The Institutional Construction of Literary Study” Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 24: The Institutional Construction of Literary Study” (YouTube)

 Also available in:  
 [HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash,
Quicktime](http://oyc.yale.edu/english/engl-300/lecture-24)  
    
 Instructions: Watch the 51-minute lecture. Note that a transcript,
audio MP3 file, and QuickTime and Flash versions of the video are
available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website, also linked
above.  
    
 After watching the lecture, consider answering the following
questions: How have institutions changed the way that literature is
understood and interpreted? How do institutions - colleges and
universities, in particular - construct literacy and interpretive
literary modes?  
    
 Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

6.3 Reader-Response Paradigms   6.3.1 Louise M. Rosenblatt and the Origins of Reader-Response Theory   - Reading: California State University Northridge’s version of Dr. Louise M. Rosenblatt’s “The Poem as Event;” and The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory: “Reader-Response Criticism” Link: California State University Northridge’s version of Dr. Louise M. Rosenblatt’s “The Poem as Event” (PDF); and The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory“Reader-Response Criticism” (PDF)

 Instructions: Access the readings, beginning with Louise
M.Rosenblatt’s essay “The Poem as Event,” which you can download by
scrolling down to the essay on the linked webpage above.
Rosenblatt’s essay argues that the act of reading represents a
unique transaction between reader and text, in which both act and
are acted upon. Following your reading of Rosenblatt, read the short
definition of reader-response criticism from the *Glossary of
Literary Theory* for a basic introduction to the theory.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following questions:
How do readers participate in the act of constructing a text? In
accordance with this theory, what is the role of the author in the
act of making a text?  

 Completing these readings should take approximately 1.5 hours.  


Terms of Use: The linked material from the *Glossary of Literary
Theory* above has been reposted by the kind permission of Greig E.
Henderson and Christopher Brown, and can be viewed in its original
form
[here](http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/glossary/Reader-response_criticism.html).
Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be
reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the
copyright holder. For the Rosenblatt article, please respect the
copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above. 

6.3.2 Wolfgang Iser and the Dialectical Relationship between Reader and Text   - Reading: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory: “Implied Reader”

Link: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher
Brown’s *Glossary of Literary Theory*: [“Implied
Reader”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Implied-Reader.pdf) (PDF)  

 Instructions: Read the short glossary definition of *implied
reader* for a brief discussion of Wolfgang Iser’s concept of the
reader’s relationship with the text.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following questions:
How does Iser understand the relationship between reader and text?
How does the reader develop a text’s meaning?  

Reading this section should take approximately 30 minutes.


 Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the
kind permission of Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown, and can
be viewed in its original form
[here](http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/glossary/Implied_reader.html).
Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be
reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the
copyright holder.
  • Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 4: Configurative Reading”

    Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 4: Configurative Reading” (YouTube)

    Also available in:
    HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and Quicktime
     
    Instructions: Watch the 52-minute lecture for a discussion of Wolfgang Iser’s literary theory, paying special attention to the discussion of the implied reader. Note that a transcript, audio MP3 file, and QuickTime and Flash versions of the video are available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website, also linked above.

    After watching the lecture, consider answering the following questions: What are the characteristics of Iser’s implied reader? According to Dr. Fry, how do readers configure literary texts?
     
    Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.