ERIC Number: ED273981
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1986-Apr
Renewing Audience Response in Study of Medieval Literature.
Harrington, David V.
Although modern readers often find the interpretation of medieval literature difficult, they should be encouraged to use their imagination to resolve the dilemmas they encounter. Often, these are the same issues with which medieval audiences had to wrestle and which the poets intended to raise. W. Iser's and H. R. Jauss's principles of audience-response criticism can be useful to the elementary study of medieval literature. Three Middle English genres--personification-allegories, Breton lais, and popular ballads--not only invite but also depend on audience-response, as do all primarily oral recitations. When reading short anthologies, beginning students need to understand the conventions of the dream vision, the humble but unreliable narrator, literary debate, and personification itself. In Breton lais (concise, narrative poems), the characters usually combine acceptable idealism with highly unconventional behavior and lead the audience to consider the story's underlying ethical issues. In popular ballads, the most accessible genre, questions are deliberately left unresolved to spur the audience's imagination. (References and specific examples are included.) (JD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A