Working With Reader-Response Criticism

        Write a single spaced essay in which you concisely explain the basic premises of Reader-Response criticism and apply one or more Reader-Response interpretive strategies to explaining how Chopin's "Story of an Hour" is constructed or what it means, using terms found in Tyson on pages 153-95 and in the essay by Mailloux.  Note that Part One does not have to account for everything in both Tyson's chapter and Mailloux's chapter--it is enough if you present a coherent, synthesis of their basic points as they apply to literature.  Name the theorists who introduce important concepts and terms of art.  Do not neglect to define and to explain the use of the terms of art introduced by Mailloux in his advocacy of "temporal reading" methods.  Remember that Reader-Response critics are allowed to make use of information about the author's other work, and especially the era in which s/he wrote, in order to anticipate the kinds of reader-responses s/he sought to evoke and control.  For work on your "Working with Reader-Response Criticism" paper on Chopin, take a moment and check out the site, especially her biography and the response to her novella, The Awakening. This assignment is due by 9:00 AM on the Monday following Thursday's discussion of Mailloux on Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter." 

        To successfully complete the assignment, make sure your essay's two parts answer, in some fashion, the following questions:

Part One:  Summarize Tyson's main points about Reader-Response theory and its most common critical methods for interpreting texts.  You do not have to summarize in extensive detail the application of all theorists' Reader-Response methods by Tyson and her sources (e.g., Rosenblatt, Isser, Booth, Fish, , etc.) and Mailloux, but you do have to at least notice their specific contributions to the evolving theoretical method, and clearly establish a basis for what you are about to do in Part Two.  You should name the theoreticians whose ideas you are borrowing.  Define their main terms of art.  Use literary examples when you can--they will improve your memory of the theory and method.  I urge you to use Mailloux's methods in Part Two because, of all the R-R critics discussed, his book chapter gives you the most numerous and flexible set of terms with which to interpret the text.  You also can enhance your application of the method by following his lead and synthetically deploying useful terms of art which can help you.

Part Two: What evidence in Chopin's "Story of an Hour" makes it appropriate for Reader-Response interpretation?  What Reader-Response principles seem most effectively to explain that evidence?  Demonstrate how the method would be applied to that evidence.  What non-obvious insight does this application of the critical method help us to see in the text?

        You do not have to develop a paper that explains the entire story in Reader-Response terms in order to finish this assignment.  You do have to establish that the Reader-Response method can expose something non-obvious and important about the way the text is constructed to engage readers' expectations in a deceptive or reconstructive way.  As a matter of good critical practice, you should provide your paper with a proper title based on your application of Reader-Response theory, and a Works Cited section, but once you have explained how Reader-Response criticism works and have showed how Mailloux's revision of Reader-Response criticism might be applied in the case of this text, you are done.  You need not explore further the consequences of that application or develop all the available evidence; only the most relevant details need be mentioned.