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< Back to question How should we think about interpreting literature? Show more Show less

In the world of literary criticism, there are many theories about the correct way to interpret literature. Some critics argue that the text alone determines a work's meaning, while others pay more attention to factors like historical context or the reader's experience. Scholars also practice other methods of literary criticism influenced by feminist, Marxist, or psychoanalytic theories, to name a few. So, what are the various theories about interpreting literature?

Reader-Response Criticism Show more Show less

Reader-Response critics argue that readers play a significant role in determining a text's meaning. They disagree about the extent of this. Some argue that meaning inheres completely in the reader, while others insist that it resides in both text and reader.
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Both the reader and text determine meaning

Popularized by Louise M. Rosenblatt, this theory argues that the text and the reader make meaning together.
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The Argument

According to this theory, meaning originates in the relationship between a text and its reader. A text's meaning depends on the reader's experience of it during the act of reading, not on the work as an independent, untouched object. Louise M. Rosenblatt is a key proponent of this perspective. Rosenblatt described the reading process as a transactional experience, in which the text prompts certain responses through its attributes. Readers then interpret these attributes depending on their experiences. Thus, the reader and text create meaning together, with neither holding a greater role in the interpretative process. Since each reader brings unique experiences to the text, they will all react differently to it and will each arrive at a one of a kind interpretation. In light of this, multiple interpretations of a given work are acceptable.

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    This page was last edited on Sunday, 2 Aug 2020 at 18:51 UTC

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