Friday, July 14, 2006

An Application of Literary Theory: Considering Reader Response Theory in the Writing of Book Reviews

An Application of Literary Theory: Considering Reader Response Theory in the Writing of Book Reviews. This is a new article by my wife. It does not have a ton of implications for library instruction or information literacy but I do think it does for librarianship as a whole. She is currently working with a reference librarian (not me) at Central Michigan University to trasnform this into a piece on how librarians can use reader response theory to better interact with patrons. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.

From the site:

This paper is about how Reader-Response Theory can be applied to writing book reviews. The notion appeals to me because I have written about a dozen book reviews for a small publication called OhioAna Quarterly. In my opinion, a good review reveals the following: what the book is about, the reviewer’s opinion of the book combined with an analysis, and reasons why or why not a reader should pick up a book. Those are the bare essentials of a review. However, I believe that applying Reader-Response Theory can enable a writer to create more depth within a book review. As a novice in literary criticism, I became fascinated in Reader-Response Theory, because like book reviewing, the reader is thrust into the forefront when regarding the book in question. The difference between book reviewing and Reader-Response criticism is that book reviews are written for the reader while Reader-Response criticisms are written about the reader.

Reader-Response is new in comparison to other types of criticisms. According to chapter 3 on Reader-Response Criticism in The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends, “The critics grouped together as reader-response theorists share a topic rather than a set of assumptions. They all have in common the conviction that the audience plays a vitally important role in shaping the literary experience and the desire to help to explain that role” (917). It is important to note that reviewers are a part of the audience studied in Reader-Response Theory. The role of the reviewer should be to shape the literary experience and to explain their role in reading the text under examination.

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