Jauss's Reader-Response Criticism

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Reader-Response Criticism – sometimes called reader theory or audience theory – is quite unlike the other critical methods. In fact it is not a method at all in the sense of particular technique, a school of thought, or a systematic procedure used to approach all works of literature. Rather, it’s more of an attitude that can be an effective starting point for a classroom inquiry into criticism, offering a student – friendly perspective on exploring literature, a distinct teaching outlook. “Reader-response criticism puts the individual reader into the driver’s seat” (Abrams). It asserts that the meaning of any literary work is not what was created by author – or what has been decided on by experts or teachers or some consensus…show more content…
Reception theory as proposed by Jauss points at the relationship of text and reader which has two aspects: historical and aesthetics. Firstly, when a reader first encounters a text he compares its aesthetic value with other text. Secondly, the reader will impart his understanding of the text from generation to generation. Jauss focuses the formation of “a literary history based on an aesthetics of reception.” Thus what is required is the transformation of “history of reception of the individual work to the history of literature,” that is emblematic of the historical sequence of the works, capable of clarifying “the coherence of literature,” to the extent that is meaningful for us. Hans-Robert Jauss formulates seven “thesis” to indicate how literary history can be methodically written in a new…show more content…
Jauss establishes that drawbacks of psychology can be avoided if the literary experience of the reader is described within “objectfiable system of expectations.” This objectifiable system of expectations includes the understanding of genres, form and themes of previous works and cognizance of difference between poetic language and practical language. Jauss refers to Roman Jakobson who wanted to replace the “collective state of consciousness” by a “collective ideology” in the form of system of norms that exists for each literary work as langue and that is actualized as parole by the receiver. Mikhail K. Bakhtin points that not only language but understanding itself is

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