Just Too Many

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"The three concepts of reader that we have dealt with start out from different assumptions and aim at different solutions" (Iser 144).

After reading this section, I now feel that reader response criticism is even weaker and less reliable than I had thought before reading this essay. It just seems that there are too many different readers and situations to think of in order to get anything concrete out of the form. I think one of my muddy point questions for this week will be: how many readers are we supposed to consider for reader response criticism? I'm not sure that this quesiton will have an answer.

Another interesting point I read was "the question remains open as to why, generations later, a reader can still grasp the meaning of the text, even thoug he cannot be the intended reader" (Iser 144). As Greta mentioned to me in a night class tonight, reader response criticism is definately not what either of us thought it was. I thought it was going to be more general, that this style of writing generates this type of reaction. However, it doesn't necessarily seem so. It seems that these writers are tying to take into accounts every individual reader and their reaction, which seems impossible.

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Greta Carroll said:

Katie, it certainly is a lot more complicated than I expected. I definitely understand what you are saying, the harder the critics try to make literary criticism more objective and concrete, the more subjective it seems to get. But I think when it really comes down to it, there really is no way for an interpretation to not be somewhat opinion based. There are certainly some arguments which are more convincing though.

As to my crack at trying to answer your muddy point, I’d say that we have to consider all of them when we are reading the text. However, when you make an argument I think you just want to pick one. Whichever one you think will work best for the argument you are making. You certainly can’t consider all of them at once and make a believable argument; some of the “readers” are almost contradictory, so that wouldn’t work too well.

Katie Vann said:

Thanks for your input Greta. I think for my paper this week I was too nervous trying to determine which type of reader I should use for my reader-reponse criticism approach. I think I ended up using a too general "reader" term that applied to anyone you wanted to. It was as Dr. Jerz would say, being too nice and not being confident enough to make a stronger claim. Oh well.

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