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Reader-Response Criticism and Gulliver’s Travels

  • Jonathan Swift
Part of the Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism book series (CSICC)

Abstract

Students are routinely asked in English courses for their reactions to texts they are reading. Sometimes there are so many different reactions that we may wonder whether everyone has read the same text. And some students respond so idiosyncratically to what they read that we say their responses are “totally off the wall.”

Keywords

Royal Society Literary Imagination Double Bind Paradise Lost Word Performance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Reader-Response Criticism: A Selected Bibliography

Some Introductions to Reader-Response Criticism

  1. Fish, Stanley E. “Literature in the Reader: Affective Stylistics.” New Literary History 2 (1970): 123–62. Rpt. in Is There a Text in This Class? 21–67 and in Primeau 154–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Freund, Elizabeth. The Return of the Reader: Reader-Response Criticism. London: Methuen, 1987.Google Scholar
  3. Holland, Norman N. “UNITY IDENTITY TEXT SELF.” PMLA 90 (1975): 813–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Holub, Robert C. Reception Theory: A Critical Introduction. New York: Methuen, 1984.Google Scholar
  5. Mailloux, Steven. “Learning to Read: Interpretation and Reader-Response Criticism.” Studies in the Literary Imagination 12 (1979): 93–108.Google Scholar
  6. —. “Reader-Response Criticism?” Genre 10 (1977): 413–31.Google Scholar
  7. Rosenblatt, Louise M. “Towards a Transactional Theory of Reading.” Journal of Reading Behavior 1 (1969): 31–47. Rpt. in Primeau 121–46.Google Scholar
  8. Suleiman, Susan R. “Introduction: Varieties of Audience-Oriented Criticism.” Suleiman and Crosman 3–45.Google Scholar
  9. Tompkins, Jane P. “An Introduction to Reader-Response Criticism.” Tompkins ix–xxiv.Google Scholar

Reader-Response Criticism in Anthologies and Collections

  1. Garvin, Harry R., ed. Theories of Reading, Looking, and Listening. Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 1981. See the essays by Cain and Rosenblatt.Google Scholar
  2. Leitch, Vincent B. American Literary Criticism from the Thirties to the Eighties. New York: Columbia UP, 1988.Google Scholar
  3. Primeau, Ronald, ed. Influx: Essays on Literary Influence. Port Washington: Kennikat, 1977. See the essays by Fish, Holland, and Rosenblatt.Google Scholar
  4. Suleiman, Susan R., and Inge Crosman, eds. The Reader in the Text: Essays on Audience and Interpretation. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1980. See especially the essays by Culler, Iser, and Todorov.Google Scholar
  5. Tompkins, Jane P., ed. Reader-Response Criticism: From Formalism to Post-Structuralism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1980. See especially the essays by Bleich, Fish, Holland, Prince, and Tompkins.Google Scholar

Reader-Response Criticism: Some Major Works

  1. Bleich, David. Subjective Criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1978.Google Scholar
  2. Booth, Stephen. An Essay on Shakespeare’s Sonnets. New Haven: Yale UP, 1969.Google Scholar
  3. Eco, Umberto. The Role of the Reader. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1979.Google Scholar
  4. Fish, Stanley Eugene. Doing What Comes Naturally: Change, Rhetoric, and the Practice of Theory in Literary and Legal Studies. Durham: Duke UP, 1989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. —. Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1980. In this volume are collected most of Fish’s most influential essays, including “Literature in the Reader: Affective Stylistics,” “What It’s Like to Read L’Allegro and Il Penseroso,” “Interpreting the Variorum,” “Is There a Text in This Class?” “How to Recognize a Poem When You See One,” and “What Makes an Interpretation Acceptable?”Google Scholar
  6. —. Self-Consuming Artifacts: The Experience of Seventeenth-Century Literature. Berkeley: U of California P, 1972.Google Scholar
  7. —. Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost. 2nd ed. Berkeley: U of California P, 1971.Google Scholar
  8. Holland, Norman N. 5 Readers Reading. New Haven: Yale UP, 1975.Google Scholar
  9. Iser, Wolfgang. The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1980.Google Scholar
  10. —. The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1974.Google Scholar
  11. Jauss, Hans Robert. Toward an Aesthetic of Reception. Trans. Timothy Bahti. Intro. Paul de Man. Minneapolis, U of Minnesota P, 1982.Google Scholar
  12. Mailloux, Steven. Interpretive Conventions: The Reader in the Study of American Fiction. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1982.Google Scholar
  13. —. Rhetorical Power. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1989.Google Scholar
  14. Messent, Peter. New Readings of the American Novel: Narrative Theory and Its Application. New York: St. Martin’s, 1990.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Prince, Gerald. Narratology. New York: Mouton, 1982.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Rabinowitz, Peter. Before Reading: Narrative Conventions and the Politics of Interpretation. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1987.Google Scholar
  17. Radway, Janice A. Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1984.Google Scholar
  18. Rosenblatt, Louise M. The Reader, the Text, the Poem: The Transactional Theory of the Literary Work. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 1978.Google Scholar
  19. Steig, Michael. Stories of Reading: Subjectivity and Literary Understanding. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1989.Google Scholar

Exemplary Short Readings of Major Texts

  1. Anderson, Howard. “Tristram Shandy and the Reader’s Imagination.” PMLA 86 (1971): 966–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berger, Carole. “The Rake and the Reader in Jane Austen’s Novels.” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 15 (1975): 531–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Booth, Stephen. “On the Value of Hamlet.” Reinterpretations of English Drama: Selected Papers from the English Institute. Ed. Norman Rabkin. New York: Columbia UP, 1969. 137–76.Google Scholar
  4. Easson, Robert R. “William Blake and His Reader in Jerusalem.” Blake’s Sublime Allegory. Ed. Stuart Curran and Joseph A. Wittreich. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1973. 309–27.Google Scholar
  5. Kirk, Carey H. “Moby-Dick: The Challenge of Response.” Papers on Language and Literature 13 (1977): 383–90.Google Scholar
  6. Leverenz, David. “Mrs. Hawthorne’s Headache: Reading The Scarlet Letter.” The Scarlet Letter: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism. Ed. Ross C Murfin. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin’s, 1991. 263–74.Google Scholar
  7. Lowe-Evans, Mary. “Reading with a ‘Nicer Eye’: Responding to Frankenstein.” Mary Shelley, Frankenstein. Ed. Johanna M. Smith. Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism Series. Ed. Ross C Murfin. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin’s, 1992. 215–29.Google Scholar
  8. Rosmarin, Adena. “Darkening the Reader: Reader-Response Criticism and Heart of Darkness.” Heart of Darkness: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism. Ed. Ross C Murfin. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin’s, 1989. 148–69.Google Scholar

Reader-Oriented Approaches to Swift and Gulliver’s Travels

  1. Aikins, Janet E. “Reading ‘with Conviction’: Trial by Satire.” The Genres of “Gulliver’s Travels.” Ed. Frederik N. Smith. Newark: U of Delaware P, 1990. 203–29.Google Scholar
  2. Fox, Christopher. “The Myth of Narcissus in Swift’s Travels.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 20 (1986–87): 17–33; rpt. in Reader Entrapment in Eighteenth-Century Literature. Ed. Carl R. Kropf. New York: AMS P, 1992. 89-Í07.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hammond, Brean. Gulliver’s Travels. Philadelphia: Milton Keynes for Open UP, 1988.Google Scholar
  4. McCrea, Brian. “Surprised by Swift: Entrapment and Escape in A Tale of A Tub.” Papers on Language and Literature 18 (1982): 234–44.Google Scholar
  5. Rawson, Claude J. Gulliver and the Gentle Reader: Studies in Swift and Our Time. London: Routledge, 1973.Google Scholar
  6. Rodino, Richard H. “Varieties of Vexatious Experience in Swift and Others.” Tapers on Language and Literature 18 (1982): 325–47.Google Scholar
  7. Smith, Frederik N. “The Danger of Reading Swift: The Double Binds of Gulliver’s Travels.” Studies in the Literary Imagination 17 (1984): 35–47; rpt. in Reader Entrapment in Eighteenth-Century Literature. Ed. Carl R. Kropf. New York: AMS P, 1992. 109–130.Google Scholar
  8. Uphaus, Robert W. “Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal, and the Problematic Nature of Meaning.” Tapers on Language and Literature 10 (1974): 268–278.Google Scholar

Other Work Referred to in “What Is Reader-Response Criticism?”

  1. Wimsatt, William K., and Monroe C. Beardsley. The Verbal Icon. Lexington: U of Kentucky P, 1954. See especially the discussion of “The Affective Eallacy,” with which reader-response critics have so sharply disagreed.Google Scholar

Works Cited

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Copyright information

© Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Swift

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