Wolfgang Iser is the main focus in this context, with discussions and comparisons with other essayists (contemporaries and second-generations), like Gabrielle Schwab and Hans Robert Jauss.
If we understand that books and the act of reading are based on a contemporary relationship between readers and the text, then we agree that they interact with each other in a reader-response way. In the 1960s and 1970s, Wolfgang Iser developped the theory that the text does not simply exist in itself, but exists in a shifting relationship (see above). There is no fixed interpretation but our own as readers, based on our education, experience and history (Jauss) – thus, the book and our personal interpretation participate in the construction of our selves.
Three groups of thinkers evolved from the reader-response theory:
- experimenters (psychology) – Winicott, Bollas
- uniformists – Iser, Jauss, Gabrielle Schwab (2nd generation)
Iser‘s tools for modelling the relationship are:
- the implied reader
- the interpretation of blanks and vacancies
- the affirmative negation (the ‘self’)
I found that Rob Pope’s book, ‘The English Studies Book’ has explained things very simply, in a way that makes it understandable. The theory is further expanded in Iser‘s own book, ‘How To Do Theory’.