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February 17, 2007

EL312: Step off, Author... This is my poem now.

Readers are the real writers, here.

It would be more precise to say that the reader creates the poem in the very act of perceiving it, and what we call "interpretation" is a more elaborate process of creation in which the formal features the reader claims to "find" in the text are "(illegitimately) assigned the responsibility for producing the interpretation which in fact produced them" (137).

Thank you, Mr. Stanley Fish for giving me a circular view of the digestion tract of reader response theory. I guess it depends what way you look at it as to what reader response means.

This reminds me of early English classes when everyone would announce if they liked the text and then what they "got" from it. But are all answers the right answers--regardless of what they are? Keesey says that "when readings are 'corrected,' they are simply brought into line with those agreed-upon strategies, not with the poem 'itself'" (138). So we're still stuck to some sort of agreeable medium... I suppose it's part of the job of criticism to have a magnetic middle-ground to land on when extremes and innumerable variables (readers) come in to play.

Keesey, Ch 3 (Introduction) -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at February 17, 2007 4:43 PM


Literary criticism is such a a strange field- you can't necessarily be "right" or "wrong" but some of us are more "right" than others. I like to think that all readers have a part when looking at the text, not just the few big-brains who write long winded articles.

Posted by: Nessa at February 19, 2007 3:51 PM

Thanks for agreeing with me, Vanessa :) I, too, like considering my views worthwhile (since otherwise I'd probably develop some sort of self-esteem complex...).

Regardless, it's nice to encounter reader response theory at this point in the semester when I DO begin to feel that my ideas are as valuable as a jar of marshmallow creme (which goes for about four bucks these days).

Posted by: Karissa at February 19, 2007 4:13 PM

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