Monthly Archives: October 2011

Reception theory

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:

  1. individualists
  2. experimenters (psychology) – Winicott, Bollas
  3. 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’.

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Authors to work on

Joseph Boyden Three Day Road

Marina Carr By the Bog of Cats

Joan Didion The Last Thing He Wanted

Louise Erdrich Love Medicine

John Hawkes The Cannibal

Colum McCann Fishing the Sloe-Black River

John McGahern Amongst Women

Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire

Of course, there are also translations to work on and research methods to apply.  The research should end with a 90-pages long mémoire, not counting the bibliography and further documents.  But I am pleased to see that the MLA standards are to be applied here.

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Hello world!

So it begins!  This blog will be about literary investigations, as the MA will require quite a chunk of ‘search and find’ time.  The academic year having just started, I am hoping to find like-minded bloggers, in a bid to exchange ideas, discussions and motivate a certain creativity.  It won’t be very academic, but I am hoping to share my sleuthing experience, the good and the bad times and, maybe, share the joys of getting through the year.

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