Lit.Reader.Response

RWA5: Using Reader Response Criticism to Understand a Text
Professor Rodgers

There are several different schools of or approaches to
literary criticism.  For instance, historical criticism focuses on the relationship between a text and a certain time period in history; biographical criticism focuses on the relationship between a text and an author’s biography.  Reader response criticism is an approach that focuses on a reader’s own responses to a text in order to interpret and better understand various aspects of the text.  As with all approaches to literary criticism, the purpose of reader response criticism is 1/ to understand a work of literature and 2/ to identify and discuss the various elements or parts of a work of literature and the overall meaning(s) of the work.  [Please note:  If you would like to read a bit more about different schools of literary criticism, or about Reader Response criticism, please visit the following site:  http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/virtualit/fiction/critical.asp?e=5]

Two very common approaches to Reader Response Criticism are 1/ to have a conversation about the text in which you explore your reactions, questions, and ideas about it, and 2/ to use the text as a model and mimic some element of it in telling a story of your own. 

For this assignment, I’d like you to write a
letter to a friend in which you explain your thoughts regarding Poe’s “The Oblong Box.”  What follows is a template for how to start and some things that you might want to address at some point in the letter:

Dear James,

I’ve recently read a story by
Edgar Allan Poe entitled “The Oblong Box” and I wanted to tell you a bit about it. 

In the story...

The language in the story...

What is interesting about the story...

The story made me think about...

My overall reaction to the story was...

Some questions that I’d like to discuss with you after you have read the story are...

The reasons why I’d like to discuss these questions with you are...

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