Reception theory is a version of reader response
literary theorythat emphasizes the reader's reception of a literary text. In literature, it originated from the work of Hans-Robert Jaussin the late 1960s. Reception theory was at its most influential during the 1970s and early 1980s in Germany and USA (Fortier 132), amongst some notable work in Western Europe.
This approach to textual analysis focuses on the scope for "negotiation" and "opposition" on the part of the audience. This means that a "text"—be it a book, movie, or other creative work—is not simply passively accepted by the audience, but that the reader / viewer interprets the meanings of the text based on their individual cultural background and life experiences. In essence, the meaning of a text is not inherent within the text itself, but is created within the relationship between the text and the reader.
Therefore a basic acceptance of the meaning of a specific text tends to occur when a group of readers have a shared cultural background and interpret the text in similar ways.
It is likely that the less shared heritage a reader has with the artist, the less he/she will be able to recognise the artist's intended meaning, and it follows that if two readers have vastly different cultural and personal experiences, their reading of a text will vary greatly.
Cultural theorist Stuart Hall is one of the main proponents of reception theory, and developed
Hall's Theoryof encoding and decoding.
Reception theory has since been extended to the spectators of performative events—predominantly theatre. Susan Bennett is often credited with beginning this discourse within theatre.
* Amacher, Richard, and Victor Lange, eds. "New Perspectives in German Literary Criticism". Princeton: Princeton UP, 1979.
* Bennett, Susan, eds. "Theatre Audiences: A Theory of Production and Reception". New York: Routledge, 1990.
* Fortier, Mark. "Theory / Theatre: An Introduction". 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2002.
* Hohendahl, Peter Uwe. "Introduction to Reception Aesthetics." "New German Critique" 10 (1977): 29-63.
* Holub, Robert C. "Crossing Borders: Reception Theory, Poststructuralism, Deconstruction". Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1992.
* Holub, Robert C. "Reception Theory: A Critical Introduction". London: Methuen, 1984.
* Iser, Wolfgang. "The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response". Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1978.
* Jauss, Hans Robert. "Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics". Trans. Michael Shaw. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1982.
* Jauss, Hans Robert. "Toward an Aesthetic of Reception". Trans. Timothy Bahti. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1982.
* [http://www.participations.org/ "Participations - The International Journal of Audience and Reception Studies"]
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