Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Two Sides of the Same Coin

In Stanley Fish's article "Is There A Text In This Class?", the reader response theory is examined in an interesting way. The essential question being asked is right in the title of the article. Fish explains that a colleague of his at Hopkins was asked the question "Is there a text im this class?" by a student, to which the colleague replied that of course there was, it was the Norton Anthology. The student, however was questioning in reader response fashion, if they were using poems and things or if they were left to their own devices and contexts as individuals. Throughout the article, Fish examines how "utterances" as he calls them, can indeed have multiple meanings based on who is asking and what their context is. 

"But the answer suggested by my little story is that the utterance has two literal meanings..." (306)  This quote led me to my artistic piece, which illustrates two physically different students asking the same question. I used different fonts to show their questioning to show the difference in the same question based on the person and their context. 


Reader response theory is very much about meanings of texts being created by the reader and how they interpret the text. Fish explains this using the question asked by a student and her intended meaning and how it differed from the initial understanding of her professor. I like the idea of reader response because while the author is still not present or relevant, readers have more freedom to contextualize what they read or in the case of this article, say. How many ways can a text be interpreted correctly? Is there ever a wrong interpretation? 

1 comment:

  1. Great questions at the end. What do you think Fish would say to the question of whether or not you could ever be WRONG with an interpretation? Remind me to ask that in class-- it's great. And focusing on "context" here is right on. Perhaps room for a bit more detail in discussing the Fish, but this is excellent!

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