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6.4 Reader Response: A Process Approach

Reader response is a powerful literary method that is refreshing since it allows you to concentrate on yourself as a reader specifically or on readers generally.

  1. Carefully read the work you will analyze.
  2. Formulate a general question after your initial reading that identifies a problem—a tension—that is fruitful for discussion and that.
  3. Reread the work, paying particular attention to the question you posed. Take notes, which should be focused on your central question. Write an exploratory journal entry or blog post that allows you to play with ideas.
  4. Construct a working thesis that makes a claim about the work and accounts for the following:

    1. What does the work mean?
    2. How does reader-response theory add meaning?
    3. “So what” is significant about the work? That is, why is it important for you to write about this work? What will readers learn from reading your interpretation?
  5. Reread the text to gather textual evidence for support. What literary devices are used to achieve the theme?
  6. Construct an informal outline that demonstrates how you will support your interpretation.
  7. Write a first draft.
  8. Receive feedback from peers and your instructor via peer review and conferencing with your instructor (if possible).
  9. Revise the paper, which will include revising your original thesis statement and restructuring your paper to best support the thesis. Note: You probably will revise many times, so it is important to receive feedback at every draft stage if possible.
  10. Edit and proofread for correctness, clarity, and style.

We recommend that you follow this process for every paper that you write from this textbook. Of course, these steps can be modified to fit your writing process, but the plan does ensure that you will engage in a thorough reading of the text as you work through the writing process, which demands that you allow plenty of time for reading, reflecting, writing, reviewing, and revising.