Commentary on the Reader Response Method of Literary Analysis
Reader response criticism raises the question of where literary meaning resides- in the literary text, in the reader, or in the interactive space between text and reader. In other words the text itself has no meaning until it is read and interpreted by the reader. This analysis can take into account the strategies employed by the author to elicit a certain response from readers. It denies the possibility that works are universal (i.e. that they will always mean more or less the same thing to readers everywhere). Norman Holland argues that "each reader will impose his or her identity theme' on the text, to a large extent recreating that text in the reader's image." Therefore, we can understand someone's reading as a function of personal identity. The reader response method is one I like to use because it allows me the reader to become one with the story either as a character, an on looker or both. For me the text lives in my imagination allowing me to see the people in the story, feel the characters emotions and walk in their shoes. Of course my life experiences can sometimes help me in interpreting the characters; however, I have to be very careful in how I see these characters and where they live. I feel that this can hinder the way different readers see a story because not all of us are the same. I have to remember to acknowledge my own subjectivity in the act of reading and be aware that I am reading a literary work with my own set of beliefs, ideas, attitudes, and values which will help me to prevent biases and prejudices while interpretating the material. For instance, I have to take each story as something new and not relate each character as an upper middle class white woman, married with two children, etc. though sometimes I may start off that way but through further reading I find my opinions and feelings will change to fit what the author is writing. Having my emotions come into play...
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