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Hans Robert Jauss

(1921—1997)


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(1921–97)

Germanliterary theorist, best known for establishing Reception Aesthetics. Together with his colleague Wolfgang Iser, he is the founder of the Konstanz School, which has had a significant influence on Anglo-American reader-response criticism. Born in Göppingen, Germany, Jauss studied in Esslingen and Geislingen. In 1939 he joined the army and saw service on the Russian Front. He was briefly imprisoned at the end of the war as an enemy combatant, thus delaying his university studies until 1948. He completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Heidelberg, graduating in 1957 with a dissertation on Marcel Proust. Between 1959 and 1966, Jauss held jobs in Münster and Giessen. In 1966, he was invited to join the newly established University of Konstanz to set up the subject area of literary studies. He did this in collaboration with several colleagues and the end result became known as the Konstanz School. Jauss's own inaugural lecture in 1967, entitled ‘Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory’, was seminal in launching what he describes as Reception Aesthetics, which is a mode of literary history interested in the interaction between readers and writers. His most important works include: Toward an Aesthetic of Reception (1982) and Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics (1982).


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