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The first part of this paper will compare and contrast a text-oriented approach to teaching literature with a reader-oriented approach, namely New Criticism with Reader-Response theories. This could be argued to set up a dichotomy (at the risk of being reductive) between Britton’s spectator and participant role. To conjure an image, New Criticism involves the excavation of solidified, intrinsic meaning while Reader-Response involves the active production of meaning, thus transforming the reader from object or receptor of text’s meaning to a subject or constituter of it.
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