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reader-response theory


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A view of literary interpretation associated with the American critic Stanley Fish. It holds that meaning does not reside in the text, but in the mind of the reader. The text functions only as a canvas onto which the reader projects whatever his or her reactions may be. The text is a cause of different thoughts, but does not provide a reason for one interpretation rather than another. The theory chimes in with much in postmodernism, but threatens to make a mockery of the fact that there is such a thing as learning to read, also that a sign such as ‘sharp bend’ does not only cause some people to expect a sharp bend, but gives them good reason to do so. See also indeterminacy of translation.

Subjects: Literature


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