Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory Hans Robert Jauss
Debate:Marxist Literary Theory Formalist Theory• inquires about his [the • reader as a perceiving readers] social subject who follows position or seeks to the directions in the recognize him in the text in order to structure of a distinguish the form represented society or discover the procedure
Both methods lack the reader in his genuine role...:as the addressee for whom the literary work isprimarily destined.
The perspective of the aesthetics of receptionmediates...If the history of literature is viewed in thisway...the opposition between its aesthetic and itshistorical aspects is also continually mediated.
Thesis 1A renewal of literary history demands (1) removal of the prejudices of historicalobjectivism (2) traditional aesthetics of production andrepresentation in an asthetics of reception andinfluenceHistoricity of literature rests... on the precedingexperience of the literary work by its readers.
MEANINGProducers Readers horizon of perceptionexpectation
Thesis 2The literary experience of the reader(takes place)...within the objectifiable system ofexpectations that arises for each work• preunderstanding of the genre• form and themes of already familiar works• opposition between poetic and practical language
Thesis 3Horizon of expectations of a work - determine itsartistic character by the kind and the degree of itsinfluence on a presupposed audience....reception can result in a "change of horizons"......aesthetic distance can be objectified historicallyalong a spectrum of the audiences reactions...
Thesis 4The reconstruction of the horizon of expectations...enables one(1) to pose questions that the text gave ananswer to(2) to discover how the contemporary reader couldhave viewed and understood the work A work sets out to answer a specific question.
Thesis 5The theory of the aesthetics of reception- allows one to conceive the meaning and form of aliterary work in the historical unfolding of itsunderstanding.- demands that one insert the individual work intoits "literary series" to recognize its historicalposition and significance in the context of theexperience of literature.
Thesis 6The achievements made in linguistics through thedistinction and methodological interrelation ofdiachronic and synchronic analysis are the occasionfor overcoming the diachronic perspective--previously the only one practiced--in literary historyas well....take a synchronic cross-section of a moment inthe development...
Thesis 7The task of literary history is thus completed whenliterary production is...also seen as "special history"in its own unique relationship to "general history."The social function of literature manifests itself inits genuine possibility only where the literaryexperience of the reader enters into the horizon ofexpectations of his lived praxis, preforms hisunderstanding of the world, and thereby also hasan effect on his social behavior.