Reader Response Criticism

Posted: October 23rd, 2013





Reader Response Criticism

Reader response criticism is a critical theory that came up to explain the ways of formally interpreting literature. Unlike the previous way, which used to stress the point of primacy of a text and its interpretation, based on already established criteria, the reader response advocates the importance of the reader and their individual response to the text. As I have learned, Reader Response Criticism of literature work depends on how I interpret the text that I read. It is impossible for any two readers reading the same text of literature to interpret it exactly the same way. The reader response critic does not over shadow one response over the other, but instead compares the two different responses making a particular text seem to have a plurality of meanings.

There exists many contradictions, and this is where the reader response criticism comes in handy. A text can, therefore, not exist or be complete without a reader reading a text and interpreting the text. The interpretations are not limited to different people as sometimes when I am reading a text repeatedly, I find myself getting different meanings of the same text. Reader response criticism has applied at different points in my life and will always apply in the future. The reader response criticism has made me appreciate literature during reading by use of a dynamic process where I extract meanings of different texts through hypothesizing, synthesizing and exploring the texts.

Over the years, reader response criticism has encouraged me to be aware of what I always bring to text as a frequent reader and has assisted me to recognize the specificity of my own cultural work. Because of this, it has made me appreciate other people’s cultural backgrounds. Rather than relying on my teacher to explain the meaning of a particular text, reader response has allowed me to learn to construct my own meaning of a text and relate it to real life issues that surround me and give a response.

Since there are no definite, correct or wrong answers during interpretation of a text, I have ended up discovering the various meanings of poems, stories, essays or any other type of literature that can evoke and move me. Reader response has helped me read more and, therefore, I have made richer connections with the variety of texts much better as compared to a student who uses traditional ways in reading. Because of the multiple interpretations I am now able to have, reader response criticism has assisted me to recognize the ways I form my arguments and I am better off in examining other students’ arguments.

However, I do feel there should be talks held to discuss the criteria on literature judgments. Since there are more books being published every year, and no clear written way of filtering, sorting or canonizing the books, formation of a better and precise way on classifying them is required. This has been brought about due to the different interpretations of the different people around the world on singular text. It also has led to the misinterpretation of some texts by readers where the message of a text ends up not being delivered as intended by the writer.

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