Steven Mailloux's "Temporal Reading" Reader-Response Method (1977/1982)

        Note that Mailloux is synthesizing a number of previous Reader-Response critics' work, including Kenneth Burke's Counter-Statement (1953), Roland Barthes' S/Z (1970) , Stanley Fish's "Interpreting the Variorum" (Critical Inquiry, Spring 1976), and Stephen Booth's "On the Value of Hamlet," 1969.  "Usually overlooked are Hawthorne's techniques for involving readers in the discovery and experience of his ethical position [ . . . ] Hawthorne's strategies of entanglement" (Mailloux 73).

Readers are the text's experimental subjects, students, explorers and detectives.  "Holistic" or "synchronic" interpretations can be surveyed for evidence that readers have arrived at differing views of the text, creating the need for a "temporal" or "diachronic") interpretation to explain how the differing holistic readings result from text-reader interactions. (borrowed from Burke, Fish, and Booth) The text is structured by repeated strategies of engagement which place readers in intentionally designed interpretive positions which are the text's temporal structure.  The proairetic code of actions moves the plot, but the readers also follow the hermeneutic code of expectation and fulfillment, mystery and solution.  Why things happened is as important as what happened. (borrowed from Barthes) thematization (repetition of a datum until it becomes a problem to solve)

formulation (the reader's working with thematized data to construct the enigma lurking in the text)

(Borrowed from Barthes)

snare (a plot move designed to trap readers in a mistaken solution that will be disproved)

equivocation (a plot move designed to direct readers in two different directions for solutions)

partial answer (an insufficient set of data designed to produce a temporary reduction but not elimination of the desire to solve the problem/enigma)

disclosure (any revelation of plot data, but especially the revelation of enough data of the right kind to enable solution of the problem/enigma)

(Borrowed from Barthes)

Do you want to test your abilities to apply Reader-Response criticism's methods?

Do you want to see how Mailloux's  introduction might prepare you to write the final paper for English 215?