reception theory

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A branch of modern literary studies concerned with the ways in which literary works are received by readers. The term has sometimes been used to refer to reader‐response criticism in general, but it is associated more particularly with the ‘reception‐aesthetics’ (German, Rezeptionsästhetik) outlined in 1970 by the German literary historian Hans Robert Jauss. Drawing on philosophical hermeneutics, Jauss argued that literary works are received against an existing horizon of expectations consisting of readers' current knowledge and presuppositions about literature, and that the meanings of works change as such horizons shift. Unlike most varieties of reader‐response theory, then, reception theory is interested more in historical changes affecting the reading public than in the solitary reader.

Subjects: Literature.

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