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Prefatory Note

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Prefatory Note


The method of reading and writing about literature is undergoing a major change. The root of this change rests in the "structural" revolution that swept through the physical and social sciences early in this century. Rather than seeing the physical world as a collection of objects " out there," the structuralists demonstrated that " reality" was partially created by human consciousness. To quote Terence Hawks on the structural revolution, " any observer is bound to create something of what he observes. Accordingly, the relationship between observer and observed achieves a kind of primacy. It becomes the only thing that can be observed". This revolution affected the humanities much later than the sciences. Until quite recently, literary study, for example, remained wedded to the notion that a literary text was a kind of object which existed independently of the reader. In the 1970s, however, the emergence of feminist and minority criticism, the development of reader-response theory, and the importation of deconstruction from France pushed literary study away from this "formalist" view toward a reader oriented method. The literary text is considered as much a creation of the reader/observer as of the author; therefore a major object of literary study is to examine the relationship between the reader and the text.

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©1989 by the Board of Student Publications, University of Northern Iowa



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