Reader-Response Criticism Criticism: Critical Approaches To Reader Response - Essay

Mary Louise Pratt (essay date fall-winter, 1982-83)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Pratt, Mary Louise. “Interpretive Strategies/Strategic Interpretations: On Anglo-American Reader-Response Criticism.” boundary 2 11, no. 1-2 (fall-winter 1982-83): 201-31.

[In the following essay, Pratt examines the rise of reader-response theory as a reaction to formalist criticism, analyzing the works of Stanley Fish, Susan Suleiman, and placing their theories in the context of new critical thinking.]

When the call for self-justification goes out, reader-response criticism often presents itself as a corrective to formalist or intrinsic criticism. This explanation, though undoubtedly true, does not seem altogether adequate. On the one hand, formalist and...

(The entire section is 14267 words.)

Catherine Addison (essay date October 1994)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Addison, Catherine. “Once Upon a Time: A Reader-Response Approach to Prosody.” College English 56, no. 6 (October 1994): 655-78.

[In the following essay, Addison discusses the impact of reader-response theory on prosody, noting that prosodic critical interpretations would benefit from an expansion of criteria beyond studying just the text to include the point of view of readers and their environment.]

One would expect the study of literary prosody, of all disciplines, to focus on the phenomenon of reading. Its ostensible subject is the rhythms and patterns of sound in poetry, and these cannot be conceived without the prior notion of a reader perceiving or...

(The entire section is 10703 words.)

Terence R. Wright (essay date winter 1995)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wright, Terence R. “Reader Response Under Review: Art, Game, or Science?” Style 29, no. 4 (winter 1995): 529-48.

[In the following essay, Wright compares and contrasts a number of texts that address issues of reader response and interpretation, noting that work by such authors as Mikhail Bakhtin, Jacques Derrida, and Paul Ricoeur can also be classified in this genre of critical theory.]

One of the problems of the label “Reader-Response Criticism” is that it covers a multitude of different approaches. Jane Tompkins's anthology, Reader-Response Criticism, originally published in 1980 but reprinted many times since then and still used as a course...

(The entire section is 9944 words.)

William J. Spurlin (essay date 1995)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Spurlin, William J. “New Critical and Reader-Oriented Theories of Reading: Shared Views on the Role of the Reader.” In The New Criticism and Contemporary Literary Theory: Connections and Continuities, edited by William J. Spurlin and Michael Fischer, pp. 229-45. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1995.

[In the following essay, Spurlin presents a comparative analysis between reader-oriented theories of criticism and the New Critics, theorizing that although the New Critics did not address issues of gender, race, and other subjective positions as clearly as reader-response critics do, they were not indifferent to the context a reader brings to a text.]


(The entire section is 5795 words.)

Gabriele Schwab (essay date winter 2000)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Schwab, Gabriele. “‘If Only I Were Not Obliged to Manifest’: Iser's Aesthetics of Negativity.”1New Literary History 31, no. 1 (winter 2000): 73-89.

[In the following essay, Schwab explores connections between Iser's original theory of reader-response and his later focus on literary anthropology.]


In relation to the empirical world, the imaginary as otherness is a sort of holy madness that does not turn away from the world but intervenes in it.2

[N]egativity provides the...

(The entire section is 6809 words.)