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February 19, 2007

Anyone Who Thinks Being an English Major is Easy Sholuld be Shot

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

"Most reader-response critics, though, continue to hold that they have very sound reasons for placing their focus where they do, and they are willing to argue that the nature of the poem, the nature of the readers, or both combined dictate where the critics' emphasis should be if they are going to do justice to the literary experience. They differ, as we have seen, in the placement of that emphasis" (138).

First of all, as Tiff said on her blog, I also thought reader-response theory would be fairly straightforward as I was already familiar with the basics of the theory. But, I had no idea how complicated it gets.

As if it isn't already complicated enough, one thing I began wondering as I read the above passage is if reader response critics, particularly the ones focusing on actual real reader's responses, only focus on the reaction to the text in isolation. For example, I know that my reactions to a text change often dramatically based on what I study in regards to the text. If I am giving certain info about the info or the time period that I didn't already know, I often react in a different way than I did initially. And perhaps this is an awkward mix of historical criticism with reader-response, but just from my personal experience it seems like this is something to consider. Keesey does address how each reading changes the reader's response, and I know this is certainly the case in my experience. So are the critics only concerned with the reaction of a reader in terms of closely studying the text, or does the reaction from a first-read have just as much validity? Or is that just one of the reasons that we have the “implied” reader vs. the “real” reader vs. the “ideal” reader etc, etc.?

Frustratingly as well as fascinatingly enough, we will never really have an answer. And people think that being an English major is easy...?

Posted by LorinSchumacher at February 19, 2007 9:43 PM


Hilarious title... Maybe not shot, but at least they should have to read every last one of our blogs.

And I'm just going to suggest this since it might help all of us in the future, but maybe it's best not to have any preconceived ideas about various types of crit. since it only seems to cause trouble.

Posted by: Karissa at February 20, 2007 7:41 AM

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