“Reader Response” in the Nineties

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What has come to be called reader-response criticism and theory was ascendant within literary studies in the 1970s and eighties but seems to have waned in the nineties. Edited collections such as Susan Suleiman and Inge Crosman’s The Reader in the Text and Jane Tompkins’s Reader-Response Criticism, both published in 1980, continue to be important references and are still cited frequently. Comparable edited collections published in the nineties, though, such as James Machor’s Readers in History (1993) and Andrew Bennett’s Readers and Reading (1995) have not received the attention of the earlier collections, and most of the essays in Readers and Reading are reprints of articles published in the eighties. Individuals associated with the reader-response movement such as Stanley Fish, David Bleich, Norman Holland, and Wolfgang Iser continue to publish books, although these books do not necessarily focus on reading. The journal that I co-edit, Reader, which originated as a newsletter in 1976 as a result of an MLA session on reading that attracted hundreds of people, continues. It remains, though, one of a small number of journals devoted to reading and readers aimed at a university-level audience. © 1998, Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved.

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Victorian Literature and Culture