The house of fiction has in short not one window, but a million--a number of possible windows not to be reckoned, rather; every one of which has been pierced, or is still pierceable, in its vast front, by the need of the individual vision and by the pressure of the individual will. These apertures, of dissimilar shape and size, hang so, all together, over the human scene. . . . The spreading field, the human scene, is the "choice of subject"; the pierced aperture . . . is the "literary form"; but they are, singly or together, as nothing without the posted presence of the watcher... ~Henry James, Preface to the New York Edition of Portrait of a Lady Stanley Fish “proposes that our readings of literary texts depend not so much on what the texts say in some intrinsic way as on what he calls interpretive communities, with their own interpretive strategies and conventions.” Interpretation, that is, derives from “preexisting conventions of interpretation” (Parker 282). Based on the work of Roman Ingarden, Wolfgang Iser, and Hans Robert Jauss, critics can speak of a culture being constructed in people’s minds as a series of “schemata” (Ingarden) or predictable patterns of arrangement of things (walls on the side, ceiling above, floor below, “naturally,” unless you’re a nomad or an astronaut!). These schemata (plural of “schema”) are part of “textual strategies” (Iser) which operate because people within the culture share a common set of understandings about what’s possible, probable, impossible, etc., their horizon of expectations (Jauss). Source: http://faculty.goucher.edu/eng211/readerresponse_theory.htm Imagine that you have just read a hundred novels featuring American Indians (you may also consider films – contemporary or dated). Jot down a few characteristics you would find in more or less all one hundred texts. Hint: You might think in terms of music/soundtrack, characters/character types, setting, time period, conflicts, Etc, Etc. What does this exercise reveal about our group’s “horizon of expectations”? How are interpretive communities that share conventions / expectations about interpretation and literary works formed, you think? Discuss cartoon. “In a structuralist mode that can bear comparison to Fish’s sense of interpretive communities, Jonathan Culler … argues that readers bring a specific competence to the process of reading specific genres of literature. Readers who are not competent in the rules of reading a novel, for example, could mistake a novel for a history or a biography, just as a reader not competent in colloquial speech will misunderstand such expressions as ‘Hold your horses’ and ‘Don’t go off the deep end.’ For Culler, as a structuralist, then, the goal of structuralist interpretation, or structuralist poetics, is not to interpret an individual literary text but instead to describe the competence that readers depend on and expect for any particular genre, from sonnets to film noir, from stage comedies to high school movies or detective novels” (Parker 283). This activity is good for helping us to consolidate what we already know – in this instance – about the grammar and linguistic conventions of the English language. Read the poem “Jabberwocky,” and then answer the following questions: 1) What did the toves do in the wabe? 2) What sort of sword did he have? 3) Where did he rest in uffish thought? 4) How did the Jabberwock come through the tulgey wood? 5) How did he kill the Jabberwock? The fact is, we can make some sense of a text like this without knowing what some of the words mean, simply by knowing how words work and how they are ordered, to make up sentences and utterances. We have already internalized a built-in competence of the English language that guides how we “read” it. We can prove this by categorizing the nonsense words into nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives. Now categorize the nonsense words into four groups – nouns, proper nouns, verbs, and adjectives. How you can tell which category a word is? What rules or conventions apply? Common: toves wabe borogroves raths mome Proper: Tumtum tree Jujub bird Bandersnatch Tests: A noun can be made plural or possessive. Often identified by an article that precedes it (an, a, the). A pronoun can substitute for a noun. Proper nouns are capitalized. outgrabe whiffling burbled galumphing chortled Tests: shows either the action or a state of being. brillig slithy mimsy mome? frumious vorpal manxome uffish tulgey beamish Frabious Tests: Modifies a noun or pronoun. Cannot move in the sentence without obscuring the meaning. Now make some of the adjectives into adverbs, and discuss how this is done. Many adverbs end in -ly, and if the word already ends in an -l, another l is added. Words ending in -y convert to -ily. brilligly slithily mimsily frumiously vorpally manxomely uffishly tulgily beamishly frabiously Tests: modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb; can often move within a sentence without changing meaning; answers “How?” and often ends in –ly.
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