The Figures Readers Make: Interpretive Plots in Reader-Oriented Criticism



The term ‘reader-oriented criticism’ has been loosely used to bracket a variety of approaches (phenomenological criticism, reception theory, reader-response, poststructuralist critiques of interpretation) that have foregrounded reading as a sociocultural, interested activity. In a more restricted sense, the term designates a characteristic Anglo-American direction in literary education, starting with the pioneering work of I.A. Richards and Louise M. Rosenblatt in the aesthetics of response, and concluding with the current poststructuralist, feminist, and psychological contributions to the problematics of ‘reading’. Despite its theoretical diffuseness and eclecticism, borrowing freely from phenomenology, hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, transactional psychology, semiotics, this pragmatic orientation in literary studies is structured by a dominant plot: ‘Crudely summarised, the point of departure in each story is always a dissatisfaction with formalist principles, and a recognition that the practice of supposedly impersonal and disinterested reading is never innocent and always infected by suppressed or unexamined presuppositions. By refocusing attention on the reader instead of the text as the source of literary meaning, a new field of inquiry is opened up’.1


Literary Work Subjective Criticism Literary Text Identity Theme Critical Rewrite 
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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© Marcel Cornis-Pop 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUK

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