Reader-Response Criticism

Reader-Response Criticism is really a collective term used to describe a number of critical theories that have emerged since the 1960's, all of which focus on the response of the reader to the text rather than the text itself as the source of meaning in a literary work. In Reader-Response criticism a text is viewed as a process that goes on in the mind of the reader rather than as a stable entity with a single "correct meaning". In this sense the reader actually participates in creating the text.

Regardless of their particular perspectives, all reader-response critics agree that since, in varying degrees, the individual reader creates the meanings of a text, there is no one correct meaning for a text. However, these critics offer differing opinions regarding how readers do in fact "read". Questions prominent to the studies of reader-response theorists are: What are the specific factors that influence the readers response? What meaning, if any, is inherent in the text? What power does the author or the text have in shaping the responses of the reader.

People of the Movement

Wolfgang Iser
Jonathan Culler
Norman Holland
Harold Bloom
Stanley Fish

Related Movements

Deconstruction
Post-Structuralism

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