Professional Writing: Process and Practice
EN 1700 – Fall/Winter 2009/2010 – Jan Rehner
Lecture 3 – Reader Response Theory – Sept 28
- Writing ideas about authors helps to trigger association that will be useful for you.
- Not copyrighting, you learn something about structure.
- Reading is essential to research.
- Need to know current issues are, need to know what’s already been said.
- Reading from one genre helps you to understand the general perspective.
- Writing and reading essential – all writers influence other writers.
Reader Response Theory: How do Readers Negotiate a Meaning?
- Making meaning: a process.
- Studies the interaction between the reader and the text (fiction, non-fiction, films,
- It is not completed until the reader picks it up and reads it.
- The text is not alive until the reader reads it. No communication if it doesn’t have
- The meaning is not in the text, it is in interaction between text and reader.
- Writer gives a set of codes, symbols, plot-cues to the reader.
- Readers then take the cues and makes connections to gaps.
- Readers have to draw their knowledge in general, experiences, and world.
- Within the interaction, a meaning is negotiated.
- We are constantly changing the meaning.
- You work with these gaps all the time.
- Reader’s interpretation: you have to know what the words mean.
- Varies from person to person. Reading to reading.
- Insists that context is crucial:
o Context is historical, biographical conditions under which a text is read
and written. The context of the reader is as important as the context of the
author. What the reader brings to the context.
o ‘I can see Russia from my house’
o Context ‘what experience do you have from foreign policy?’
- Multiple interpretations.
- They vary, any valid interpretation, must account all aspects of the texts; codes.
- An interpretation: balance thought of the codes.
How do Readers Negotiate a Meaning?
- When you are in reading, your brain tries to find patterns.
- People who are good readers are active readers.
- Reading is a dynamic active process.
- It is not linear process, it is recursive.
- Your brain is constantly moving forward, predicting what’s going to happen next.
Going forward and back. - You are not a sponge, soaking up what the text. You are creating with the text, a
- The stance that the reader takes toward the text is important. How you align
yourself to the text is the critical the stance you take with the text.
- You can approach the text, neutral, sympathetic, or hostile. You can take different
stances; it will shape what you take from the text.
- Alignments; read from the point of view of a character, student. Don’t read a text
as if you’re going to write an exam on it because the pressure of remembering
everything, you get lost in the details. Read the book without pressure. It will
affect what you foreground and what you let slip into the back.
- Stanley Fish: interpretive communities, like classroom, also affect your reading. It
is crucial reading that you approach the text with an open mind. Thinking it too
difficult, it will be difficult. Doesn’t mean you have to agree, but read it first and
then have a position. Blinded by their own assumptions and beliefs.
- Denotation: looking up a word in the dictionary. Know what the word means.
- Connotation: Words hav