1. In literary and aesthetic theory, a psychological relationship between an audience and an artwork reflecting a certain degree of disinterest, or critical detachment from it. Some critics (influenced by Kant) have regarded distancing (or distanciation) as necessary in order to background subjective emotional responses and to cultivate an approach thought to be appropriate for an aesthetic construct as opposed to everyday experience. This is consonant with the formalist technique of defamiliarization.
2. A similar detachment on the part of the creator of the work.
3. (Brechtian distance) The manipulation of audience detachment and involvement by the creator of an artwork (see also Brechtian alienation). This is reflected in signs of constructedness in any kind of text. See also reflexivity.
4. In reception theory, the difference between how a work was regarded from the horizon of expectations of contemporary commentators at the time of its creation and how it is viewed at the current time (Jauss).
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