THES611: Reception Theory - Ανοικτό Πανεπιστήμιο Κύπρου - Open University of Cyprus
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THES611: Reception Theory

Module Purpose and Objectives

In this module, students will become acquainted with theoretical texts on the reception of literature and drama.

Reading will focus on texts written by literary theorists, enabling the investigation of theoretical issues that pertain to the study of the reception of literary works.

By reception we mean the various ways in which readers and/or writers engage in intertextual dialogue with earlier texts, either re-inscribing or adapting or modifying them.

After successfully completing this module, students will be expected to:

  • Be familiar with the origin and development of the branch known as “reception studies”
  • Understand the major theoretical parameters that define the study of the reception of literary texts
  • Know the basics of the history and prehistory of reception theory
  • Understand and assess reception theory as a reinscription of the history of literature
  • Understand and evaluate the significance of the reception or survival of ancient drama in contemporary times

Module Content

  • Reception theory: history and prehistory
  • Reception theory as re-inscription of literary history
  • The significance of the study of reception
  • Basic theoretical parameters defining the study of the reception of literary texts
  • Basic parameters of the reception of ancient drama in contemporary literature, dramaturgy and stagecraft
  • The significance of the study of performance reception
  • The significance of translation as part of reception history
  • The body of the actor, theatrical imitation (mimesis) and visual reception
  • Theatre as a medium for the imaginary institutionalization and visualization of political demands and changes
  • Major forerunners of Reception Theory
  • Russian Formalism as forerunner of reception theory
  • Basic theoretical principles of Russian Formalism
  • Basic conceptual tools of Russian Formalism (defamiliarization, technique etc.)
  • The term “literary evolution” in Russian Formalism
  • Basic theoretical principles of Roman Ingarden’s Phenomenology
  • Ingarden as precursor to reception theory
  • Schematization, indeterminacy and concretization
  • Basic theoretical principles of Czech Structuralism
  • Czech Structuralists (particularly Jan Mukařovský and Felix Vodićka) as precursors to reception theory
  • Requirements, parameters and key concepts of Hermeneutics: Hans-Georg Gadamer
  • The importance of Gadamer as precursor to reception theory
  • Challenging the “scientific method”
  • Hermeneutical prejudice, horizon of understanding: their importance to the formulation of reception theory
  • Requirements, parameters and key concepts of Reception Theory as formulated by Hans Robert Jauss
  • Aesthetics of reception, horizon of expectations
  • The significance of defamiliarization (inherited from Russian Formalism) to Jauss’ reception theory
  • Reception theory as, partly, a conjunction of the vital elements of Marxism and Formalism
  • Aesthetics of reception as a new way of setting up and studying the history of literature
  • Horizon of expectations, fusion of (past and present) horizons
  • Relation between literature and history according to Jauss
  • Theodor Adorno, “aesthetics of negativity” and Jauss’ criticism
  • Aesthetic pleasure (according to Jauss) and the pleasure of the text (according to Barthes): similarities and differences
  • Jauss’ three modes of aesthetic pleasure: poiesis, aesthesis, catharsis.
  • Poiesis as the productive side of the aesthetic experience
  • Aesthesis as the receptive side of the aesthetic experience
  • Catharsis as the communicative side of the aesthetic experience
  • The five patterns of interaction proposed by Jauss (associative identification, admiring identification, sympathetic identification, ironic modality, cathartic modality)
  • Theoretical and methodological differences between Jauss and Iser
  • Key principles, concepts and parameters of Iser’s theoretical approach
  • Production of meaning, implied reader, repertoire, appeal structure of the text, theme and horizon, foreground background etc.
  • Wandering viewpoint, subject-object division
  • The phenomenology of reading according to Iser
  • Interaction between text and reader
  • Communicative dimensions of reading
  • Asymmetry between text and reader
  • Dialectical relation between determined and undetermined in Iser’s theory
  • Theme and foreground
  • “Negation” / “negativity”, “primary” and “secondary negation”
  • Modernism and tradition in Iser’s theoretical thinking
  • Criticism of Iser’s work: defamiliarization, unhistorical dimension, fictitious dismissal of the concept of prejudice
  • Iser and Fish dispute
  • Overview of reception theories: key principles and parameters, convergences and divergences
  • Perspectives opened up through the contribution of reception theorists (Jauss, Iser, Fish), as well as their descendants or critics
  • Key principles of reception theory in combination to contemporary or slightly subsequent literary theories
  • Stability of the text and fluidity of interpretation
  • Stanley Fish: interpretive communities
  • Erwin Wolff: the concept of the intended reader
  • Roland Barthes: plurality, dissemination, textual properties of the reader
  • The necessity of misreading: Harold Bloom
  • The reconstruction of literary history
  • History as metaphysics: Jacques Derrida
  • Poetics and historiography: Hayden White

Additional Info

  • Κωδικός / Course Code: THES611
  • ECTS: 15
  • Τρόποι Αξιολόγησης / Assessment:

    10% interactive educational activities, 30% written assignments and 60% final examination

  • Διάρκεια Φοίτησης/ Length of Study: Εξαμηνιαία (χειμερινό) / Semi-annual (fall)
  • Κόστος/ Tuition Fees: 675 euro
  • Επίπεδο Σπουδών/ Level: Μεταπτυχιακό/ Postgraduate