, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 441–448 | Cite as

Could you be more specific, please?

  • Dominique Vaugeois


The notion of ambiguity raises questions about the nature of texts and the limits of interpretation. Both of these questions were addressed extensively by the theorists of reading and by the deconstructionists and their critics. It seems however that some of the political aspects of the academic praxis of disambiguation remain to be explored. Textual ambiguity and the possibility of disambiguation raises questions that go beyond the cognitive mechanics of reading, to include the politics of interpretation and the teaching of reading. This paper explores some of the problems raised when the scholar recognizes that ambiguity is an essential and inevitable part of texts and reading. Techniques of disambiguation rely on the agency of an individual reader, whether this is a real person or a theoretical construct. The reduction of a text’s ambiguity, we argue, necessarily increases the ambiguity of this agent’s own position. The process of disambiguation, when accomplished for someone else, as is the case with when an academic reads as text for his or her students or readers can be seen as a way of transferring ambiguity from the text to the reader. As a reading gains in clarity, the position, motivations, idiosyncrasies of the reader introduce a new kind of ambiguity.


Reader interaction theory Interpretation Reader Ambiguity 


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UFR lettres, langues et sciences humaines, sportUniversité de Pau et des pays de l’douravenue du Doyen-PoplawskiPau CedexFrance

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