Reader-Response Criticism Criticism: Some Reader-Response Interpretations - Essay

William H. Shurr (essay date 1990)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Shurr, William H. “Leaves of Grass as a Sexual Manifesto: A Reader-Response Approach.” In Approaches to Teaching Whitman's Leaves of Grass, edited by Donald D. Kummings, pp. 99-104. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1990.

[In the following essay, Shurr demonstrates that Whitman uses his own presence in his texts to demand a specific response from his readers.]

Literary criticism is rightly concerned with the question of where the author places himself or herself in the text. How does the author choose to relate to the reader, with the text as surrogate? Theoretically it is impossible to read a text without coming to some...

(The entire section is 2551 words.)

Ross C. Murfin (essay date 1995)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Murfin, Ross C. “Reader-Response Criticism and The Turn of the Screw.” In Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism: Henry James, ‘The Turn of the Screw,’ edited by Peter G. Beidler, pp. 152-59. Boston Mass.: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1995.

[In the following essay, Murfin explains the basics of reader-response criticism, applying these theories to a reading of Henry James' Turn of the Screw.]


Students are routinely asked in English courses for their reactions to texts they are reading. Sometimes there are so many different reactions that we may wonder whether everyone has read...

(The entire section is 4119 words.)

Peter J. Rabinowitz (essay date 1996)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Rabinowitz, Peter J. “Reader Response, Reader Responsibility: Heart of Darkness and the Politics of Displacement.” In Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism: Joseph Conrad, ‘Heart of Darkness,’ edited by Ross C. Murfin, pp. 131-47. Boston Mass.: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1996.

[In the following essay, Rabinowitz presents a reader-response interpretation of Conrad's Heart of Darkness.]

Even before Chinua Achebe proclaimed in 1975 that “Joseph Conrad was a bloody racist” (9),1 many critics had scrutinized the racial politics of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. But Achebe's stature as one of Africa's foremost novelists...

(The entire section is 6682 words.)