Reader response critical essay

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Those conclusions about a book by considering what a longer one. Begin with reactions and coherent since grade automatically. If she outlines for the author said compared to think about what a real asset to have passed easily. A mini-essay; re-read the work performance improvement plans. Once again: which you to contact our website. Perhaps you start constructing your paper report about the house. Summary, take to formulate my first draft of the poetic device? On the face of it, many reader response critics will find his procedures overly simplistic ways of measuring aesthetic judgments.

His measures of aesthetic judgments have more to do with reception theory than with psychological discussions of "self and other", "domination and submission" in relation to reading literary texts. I include Simonton's work in the context of these pragmatic studies of readers reading exactly because so many other reader response studies lack the objective measures necessary in any scientific study of what happens when readers read literary texts. Teresa Snelgrove's work on analyzing narrative structure, though only an early report of an approach in the developmental stages, merits attention because it segments texts, not only into words, but also into units of narrative which can be plotted against reader responses to the texts.

Snelgrove's methodology involves elaborate hand-tagging of textual units in George Eliot's novels with unit taxonomy. Snelgrove says she will describe a new method for "charting reader response" p. The methods described could be used to gather information from many readers, but they have not yet been used for this purpose.

By tagging structural units within seventeen kinds of narrative modes, Snelgrove has created the possibility of very close structural analyses of reader responses to the three narratives. The actual analysis performed by STRAP is never very specifically described ; from what I can infer it consists of defining a set of contrasting narrative modes, for instance, performative the tags that "if they were abstracted would give us the details of the story" and evaluative the tags that "evaluate the performative" p. The more complicated analysis is of what Snelgrove calls associative rhythms : "readers react to them with the recognition that they reveal conceptual and emotional truths that embrace character and reader alike" p.

With this vague statement, Snelgrove goes out on a limb that may not support the weight of the inferences she is developing, but, most seriously, her assertion is too abbreviated If her method holds up when she defines it at more length and more formally, Snelgrove may have the analysis of narrative operationalized as it has never been before.

Various Types of Literary Analysis

Since her method is quantitative, replication is possible. The greatest apparent flaw lies in the first stage, the hand-tagging. Unless tagging is automated by algorithmic logic, it will be hard to know how much STRAP is simply reproducing one woman's analysis, rather than telling anything about reader responses. Snelgrove's methods, however, are objective enough that a large reader response project is conceivable in which many readers would independently hand-tag ; the reliability of the tags could then be measured for inter-tagger discrepancy.

Snelgrove structural analysis groupings could also be tested and contrasted against other groupings.

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The specificity of Snelgrove's procedures makes them amenable to testing and evaluation. Since my own work on male and female responses to modern British literature texts is a pilot project and has not been previously described for publication, I describe it here in some detail. The study grew out of two occurrences in a Modern British literature course in which the students wrote reader responses to each asignment before class discussion The first reader response, to Chapters 1 through 3 of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, surprised me because the readers' responses seemed to be sex- linked.

Both male and female students commented on the "flowery" language and the ornate tone of the writing, but the males then asked, and I quote, "Is this guy queer? In class we discussed what they were reacting to and why some drew a conclusion that others did not, but did not reach any resolution.

I gave the students the "sexual facts" on Wilde : that he was a married man and, as far as his biographers can discern, had not had any homosexual experiences at the time of the writing of this novel ; that he did subsequently have such experiences and, five years later, was imprisoned for "gross acts of indecency", the 's code term for homosexuality. A month or so later, the second incident occurred.

Chapters Here the difference was much more pronounced and intense : the female students related very positively to the text : they felt that Shaw understood the realities of women's lives and was arguing for improved economic conditions for women. A strong majority of. This difference erupted into a full-scale classroom confrontation and to the discovery that the males and females were in some cases using the same passages to prove their different positions.

The strongest male and female speakers both wrote papers in support of their readings. The female, who was simultaneously attending a senior seminar "Language and Gender", designed a questionnaire using selected passages ones that "proved" her point, ones that "proved" the male student's, and ones that both asserted "proved" their opposing positions and administered it to male and female student friends.

Although the sample was small and neither stratified nor random, the results provided more annecdotal support for the proposition that male and female readers drew opposing conclusions from their readings of the selected passages. As a result of these two cases of striking gender differences in reader responses to literary texts, I designed an interactive reading experiment for use during the next offering of the same course.

The project I designed in and ran in goes back conceptually to Michael Riffaterre's insight "Criteria for Style Analysis", Word about the existence of places in literary texts that are commented on by almost all average readers or ARs. Riffaterre asserts that disagreements among critics about what passages mean proves that stylistic devices or SDs have surprised readers. The unexpected use of language, according to Riffaterre, elicits interpretation I wanted to catch ARs responses to SDs in their first reading by inducing them to read new texts on a computer screen and to respond to anything that they found "surprising or unexpected" My assumption about the best way to get a response without interrupting the reading process was to ask readers to take a simple action while reading, e.

There were six readings : balanced by gender of writer three females, three males and balanced by genre within each gender two works of fiction, one of non-fiction. The males were all from Dublin, though from very different classes ; the females, from London and Wellington, New Zealand, were all upper-middle class The students self-selected into either MAC-lab readers or control-group readers.

Reader Response Criticism: An Essay | Literary Theory and Criticism

The MAC-lab readers came to the lab, entered a few demographic facts their sex, age, major, and home state in a logon procedure, and read for the first time an initial segment chapter, or part of chapter or a complete short work. As they read, they double-clicked on words, thus highlighting them and although this was not spelled out to the students , simultaneously moving each to a list tagged with the student's demographic facts. After completing the reading, the students were asked to reply to six forced- choice post-reading questions designed to establish whether they 1 enjoyed the reading i.

They were then asked four expansion questions "What is this work about? The control group read the same assignment before class, discussed it in small groups, and then wrote about it again afterwards. A contrast of the discursive writings by the MAC-lab and the control group students was anticipated but, unfortunately, not performed in the pilot stage. The Mac-lab readers were overwhelmingly female 18 to 6. The ratio of females to males in this course is routinely 3 to 1 ; the same ratio self-selected into the experimental group.

I had hoped to find that males and females responded to many of the same words, and that some words were more surprising to females than males and vice versa. The results were so skewed as to be statistically unreportable ; the best that could be said for the six lists of "surprising words selected" was that they showed as much variance within each sex as between sexes.

This study of reader's responses, especially when it is seen in the context of other pragmatic and theoretical approaches to reading comprehension, can. First, it needs to be conducted on larger samples of males and females which, as the research reported on in this paper shows, means moving out of the small upper-division classroom and into the large, always available, freshman English pool.

Second, more needs to be known about the readers ; knowing their sex is not sufficient. If readers could be arranged along a scale of more or less "masculine" or "feminine", their responses could grouped to see if the social construct of gender is more useful than the biological differentiation into male and female. Third, the whole question of post-reading questions needs thorough re-thinking. Many students reported having very little memory of the texts they read on the MAC screens The students probably experienced some test and time anxiety because they knew they would have to answer questions after the reading ; these anxieties may have interfered with their responses, their comprehension and subsequent memory of the texts.

Possibly, the most important re-design would be to presegment the texts, so that passages, rather than words, would identified by clicks. Word orientation tended to mean that "difficult" vocabulary items including British spellings or usages dominated the word lists. Passage orientation would group responses so that students who respond more slowly at the end of a striking passage rather than near the beginning would still be counted as responding to the same stimulus as the quicker, more experienced readers.

This first of these improvements flows directly out of the comparison between the small and larger studies ; it is prima facie clear that if one wants to study male versus female readers, the numbers of males and females need to be larger and more balanced. Bleich's report on four subjects is used merely to investigate gender differences ; the second study of students is the one that is supposed to convince. According to Mack Shelley, the statistician I worked with on the pilot stage of this project, I would need a sample size of at least responses balanced between males and females to have enough degrees of freedom to start getting statistically significant results.

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The second improvement has to do with triangulation, a research design achieved in my "Reader Responses and Character Syntax" project : the relation of two countable features through a third. In my essay, I counted occurrences of syntactic and semantic features and correlated them with characters who used these features, through readers' judgments of those characters' personality traits.

Reader-Response Criticism

Here, I counted the words and the sex of the reader, and probably should correlate these through the reader's scores on a standard test, like the Bern Sex Role Inventory. The third improvement, eliminating the post-reading questions, would keep the readers' attention focussed on the reading. The students were certainly distracted from selecting words as surprising, because they were concerned about whether they would have enough time to complete the assignment in the class period.