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Reading Theory Dale Sullivan

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1 Reading Theory Dale Sullivan

2 Something in the actual text “triggers” an interpretation of genre in in the reader, an interpretation that then dominates the reader’s own creation of what Wolfgang Iser calls a “virtual text.” Jerome Bruner

3 Review: writing about texts and integrating texts entering into a scholarly conversation absorbing and responding to texts summarizing and springboarding seeing genres as typified responses to recurrent situations DEFTing, reader response theory reading cultural codes and signs, semiotics

4 Semiotics/Structuralism in a nutshell * A method of reading individual texts as reflecting a tacit set of cultural codes and as governed by ways of seeing the world. *A sequence of events is a story, but the telling of the sequence of events is and artificial structuring based on available patterns and character types. The telling is discourse. *The further the telling of the story is from a co-present, straightforward comment on shared perception, the more literary it is. *A piece of literature can always be analyzed by mapping its population of binary oppositions. *A piece of literature can always be analyzed in terms of its narrative structure and character types. *Literature is a self-referencing, intertextual system, so a piece of literature can always be analyzed by discovering its intertextual references.

5 A Collection of Comments on the Reader’s Construction of Meaning by Interacting with Cues in the Text Booth: authorial intentions and indwelling Tolkien: authors as makers of secondary worlds Ong: the fictionalized reader Eco: inferential walks Rosenblatt: the aesthetic reader Iser: the virtual dimension of the text Fish

6 When someone paints a picture... recounts the Passion according to St. Matthew in a Gospel oratorio, I can sometimes come to understand and share his intentions and the shared intentions of others participating with me; and I sometimes know them with a sureness that has often been overlooked. That the resulting knowledge is a kind of indwelling..., that it includes subjective states not provable or demonstrable by ordinary hard tests should not trouble us... Wayne Booth

7 [The Author] makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is “true”: it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the Primary world again, looking at the little abortive Secondary World from the outside. J. R. R. Tolkien

8 ... the writer must construct the reader in his imagination... the audience must correspondingly fictionalize itself. A reader has to play the role in which the author has cast him, which seldom coincides with his role in the rest of of actual life. Walter Ong

9 In order to make forecasts which can be approved by the further course of the fabula, the Model Reader resorts to intertextual frames. The reader [is] encouraged to activate this hypothesis by a lot of already recorded narrative situations (intertextual frames). To identify these frames the reader [has] to ‘walk’, so to speak, outside the text, in order to gather intertextual support. I call these interpretative moves inferential walks (32). The type of cooperation requested of the reader, the flexibility of the text in validating (or at least in not contradicting) the widest possible range of interpretative proposals--all this characterizes narrative structures as more or less ‘open’ (33). Umberto Eco, The Role of the Reader

10 Louise Rosenblatt: “... only a reader in aesthetic transaction with the text can synthesize the parts into a ‘whole’ or structure which is a work of art. The reader draws on his own reservoir or past life experience; he has notions of what to expect of a novel or poem or satire. But he has to use whatever he brings to the text and build out of his responses to the patterned verbal cues a unifying principle. The structure of the work of art corresponds ultimately to what he perceives as the relationships that he has woven among the various elements or parts of his lived- through experience. Instead of thinking of the structure of the work of art as something statically inherent in the text, we need to recognize the dynamic situation in which the reader, in the give-and-take with the text, senses or organizes a relationship among the various parts of his lived-through experience.”

11 The fact that completely different readers can be differently affected by the ‘reality’ of a particular text is ample evidence of the degree to which literary texts transform reading into a creative process that is far above mere perception of what is written. The literary text activates our own faculties, enabling us to recreate the world it presents. The product of this creative activity is what we might call the virtual dimension of the text, which endows it with its reality. This virtual dimension is not the text itself, nor is it the imagination of the reader: it is the coming together of text and imagination (279). Wolfgang Iser, The Implied Reader

12 ... all objects are made and not found, and that they are made by the interpretive strategies we set in motion. This does not, however, commit me to subjectivity because the means by which they are made are social and conventional. That is, the “you” who does the interpretative work that puts poems and assignments and lists into the world is a communal you and not an isolated your (331).... we have readers whose consciousnesses are constituted by a set of conventional notions which when put into operation constitute in turn a conventional, and conventionally seen, object (332). Of course poems are not the only objects that are constituted in unison by shared ways of seeing (332). Stanley Fish, Is There a Text in This Class

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