Alterity and the actor.

Essay by FetusFetishUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, October 2005

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The German theorist and critic, Wolfgang Iser (born in 1926),is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Irvine and also at the University of Konstanz.. In both his writings "The Implied Reader" and the "Act of Reading" , Iser is interested in the way in which readers are involved with literary works. His views of reader involvement are known as the reception theory. In his 1989 essay, "The Play of the Text," Iser points out that the author, the text, and the reader are involved in an on-going relationship in literature that produces literary meaning. Among his many thought-provoking observations, he notes that a poem or a story leaves blank places for the reader: places where one contemplates what the author/text means. When the reader comes across these blanks, he must fill them in using his own knowledge and experiences. Out of this ironic collaboration between writer, text, and reader, meaning emerges.

Thus, when you read a novel for example, you should be aware of the fact that you, the book, and the author are building meaning together. For this reason, my reading of a book will and should be different from that of others. My reading of a poem will be based on my experiences as a person, my life, my reading history, and so on. As you read and as you listen to others talk about their interpretations of works, one must bear in mind that they write from their experience. As they talk about what they see in a work, you will learn as much about them as you do about the work. In discussing how this performative act takes place in reading, Iser uses the word "gaps" and the word "blanks." He asserts that a poem or a...