Test Your Application of Reader-Response Criticism Methods

Apply Transactional, Affective Stylistics, Subjective, Psychological, or Social Reader-Response methods to the titles or first lines of the following works.  Remember, read slowly, starting with the titles, and look for the reader-expectations they construct.  What kinds of expectations do the successive sentences create, and how do subsequent sentences confirm or disconfirm those expectations?:

1)  Robert Pirsig,  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (N.Y.: Morrow, 1974)(Click here for the "Author's Note" which precedes the text.)  (Click here for the first line.)

2)  Virginia Woolf,  To the Lighthouse (London: L. and V. Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1927; N.Y.: Harcourt Brace, 1927) (Click here for the first line.)

3)  Emily Dickinson, "XVI."  (MS packet 15, c. 1860; in Poems (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1890); The Poems of Emily Dickinson ed. Thomas H. Johnson (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1955)

4)  Lawrence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley, 1760-1767)

Click here for the first sentence.