American Critics at Work: Examinations of Contemporary Literary Theories

By Victor A. Kramer | Go to book overview

LEARNING TO READ: INTERPRETATION
AND READER-RESPONSE CRITICISM

by
Steven Mailloux

Interest in reader-response criticism has grown considerably in the last few years, though at times the basic premises of this approach seem only poorly understood. My purpose in this essay, therefore, is twofold: to clear up some misconceptions about this criticism by providing a detailed description of assumptions and strategies; and also to maintain a metacritical perspective that uses reader-response criticism as an example of how approaches to literature generally function. This dual purpose requires that I alternate between presenting readerresponse criticism on its own terms and viewing its claims from outside its premises. First, I seek to outline my metacritical position; then in sections I and II, I represent the basic interpretive assumptions and critical practice of much reader-response criticism. Section III begins and ends with a further development of my metacritical perspective, while between these theoretical explanations is a more detailed survey of specific descriptive moves made by reader-response critics.

Every critical approach embodies a set of interpretive conventions used to make sense of literary texts. Such interpretive conventions are shared procedures for creating meaning, and they consist of interpretive assumptions manifested in specific critical moves. 1 A critic adopts (and is adopted by) these conventions in his attempt to describe, explicate, and explain any discourse, whether one line of poetry, a complete novel, or an entire literary tradition. The history of literary criticism is a chronicle of the changes in these shared interpretive strategies. For instance, conventions of Anglo-American New Criticism dominated in the United States during the nineteen-forties and fifties; the kind of text constituted by that criticism is

-296-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
American Critics at Work: Examinations of Contemporary Literary Theories
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 447

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.