An Overview and Commentary on Course Objectives Essay

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Note to the reader: This essay is somewhat of an experiment. I am well aware of the standard guidelines within which a student must present and argue ideas, and the implications of nonconformity. However, if I have learned anything in this course, it is that genres and forms are continually under scrutiny, being molded and changed, discarded and exchanged, for sake of efficacy, veracity, adherence to ideology, or in reaction to otherwise unforeseen forces. Consider this as just such a reaction; more accurately, it is my only recourse. In setting out to write this essay, I had a clear objective. My task was to critically engage materials that were covered this term, and where possible reflect, compare, contrast, and analyze those theories…show more content…
In a contemporary sense, there is an involvement between the reader and the text. This denies the Formalist stance that the text is the sole source of meaning. Proponents of this theory fall onto a spectrum, where at one pole the interpretive strategy of the reader entirely determines the text (Stanley Fish), at the other pole is what falls into the realm of Formalism (text dominant), and in between is a bi-active stance, where the reader is both active and passive during the reading process (Wolfgang Iser). Iser talks of an “actual reader” and an “implied reader.” The actual reader is one who brings to the text all their knowledge and experience, what Barthes would term their déjà lu. The implied reader is one which text itself attempts to shape or condition. For Iser, the reading process is one which is gradually unfolding. The reader assimilates various facets of the text, and through this process dictates (in part) the essence of the text. However, unlike some of Fish’s earlier works where the reader is effectively in creative control, Iser states the text imposes some constraints upon the reader. The reader cannot make the text mean what they like, as the text provides a skeleton of meanings, norms, and values that shape and control the reader’s response. Thus, “the convergence of text and reader brings the literary work into existence” (Iser 189). He goes on further to state that “the text provokes certain expectations which in
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