What feature of literature does Jauss believe is ignored by the formalist and Marxist schools of interpretation? (reception) How does each school view readers? (1550-51; Marxists wrongly see literature as only reflecting reality; formalists have centered on aesthetic innovation)
How does the “participation of its addressees” influence a literary work? (1551) What does it mean to say that the relation between work, audience and new work is “a dialogical and at once processlike” one? (1551)
What will an understanding of this process yield? (1551, an understanding of the historical sequence of literary works)
What happens to the understanding of the first reader of a work as more receptions of future generations accumulate? (1552)
What does it mean to say that literary history should make “a conscious attempt at the formation of a canon” but on the other hand, it should propose “a critical revision if not destruction of the received literary canon”? (1552) Are both aspects of this dual approach consistent with current critical practice?
What are his seven “theses,” and what is significant in each?
1. The need for an aesthetics of reception and influence:
What does Jauss see as wrong about the positivist view of history? (1552, neglects the artistic character as well as the specific historicity of literature; “a literary work . . . is not a monument that monologically reveals its timeless essence”).
What metaphor does he use to describe the effect of a work of literature? (1552, orchestration)
What is new about the idea that the words of the text “must, at the same time that they speak to him, create an interlocutor capable of understanding them”? (1553)
What should philology (the study of language and literature) do in addition to understanding the object or nature of the literary work itself? (1553, “the reflection on and description of the completion of this knowledge as a moment of new understanding”)
Why is the collection of literary facts not real history? (lacks the “eventful character of a work of art,” 1553)
How does Jauss differentiate between a historical/political event and a literary one? What is necessary in order for a literary event to continue to have an effect? (1553)
What would be necessary in order to create an adequate representation of literary history? (1553, ability to objectify this process)
2. need to trace the reader’s expectations at the work’s appearance, including an understanding of its genre, antecedents and level of discourse.
What skepticism expressed by Rene Wellek does Jauss try to counter? (1554, no empirical analysis can determine individual or collective state of consciousness)
What does Jauss believe is left unexplained by Roman Jakobson’s notion of the distinction between langue and parole in the reception of a work? (1554)
What signals or instructions enable the reader to interpret the work? (1554) What is evoked in the reader by the reading of a new text? (1555) What may the text evoke other than the repetition of the codes of earlier works?
What examples does Jauss give of works which destroy the reader’s expectations of genre, style or form? (1555) (Cervantes, Diderot, Nerval) Can you think of others?
Even without specific historically specific signals, what factors may help a reader decode the text? (1556, immanent poetics of the genre, relation to other literary works of period, contrast between fiction and reality)
3. An aesthetic distance measures the disparity between the horizon of expectations and the appearance of a new work.
How may the effect of “aesthetic distance” be created? (1556, through negation of familiar experiences or through raising newly articulated experiences to the level of consciousness)
What are some ways in which audiences can respond to this distance? (1556, acclaim, shock, scattered approval, gradual or belated understanding)
What does Jauss define as the features of “culinary” or entertainment art? (1556)
What happens when the original aesthetic distance disappears with time? (1556-57) If their “beautiful form” becomes self-evident, what must the reader do to “catch sight of their artistic character once again”? (1557)
Why does he mock the idea that a work of literature is valuable only insofar as it reflects its age? (1557)
What happens when a work breaks so completely with literary expectations that no one in its time understands it? Does it necessarily die? (1557, an audience may gradually develop for it)
What historical example does he give of the difference between a popular and aesthetic work which appeared at the same time? (1557) What qualities made Feydeau's Fanny less valuable and Flaubert's Madame Bovary a work of originality?
4. The reconstruction of the horizon of expectations enables one to pose questions to which the text gave an answer, and thereby discover how the contemporary reader could have viewed and understood it.
What can help in this process of reconstruction? (1559, by comparison with works that the author presupposed his contemporary audience to know, gives example of the Roman de Renart)
What is wrong with the notion that the present-day critic can examine objectively the works of the past? (1560) What insight had Hans-Georg Gadamer offered into the mode of understanding history? (1560, through logic of question and answer to the historical tradition)
What is meant by Collingwood’s statement that “one can understand a text only when one has understood the question to which it is an answer”? (1560)
How does he answer Rene Wellek’s question, whether one should evaluate a literary work according to the perspective of the past, the present, or the “verdict of the ages”? (1560-61, he expands notion of the “verdict of the ages” to include the successive unfolding of the potential for meaning in a work achieved by the “fusion of horizons” in the encounter with the tradition)
5. One needs to view the individual work in the context of a “literary series” to recognize its relative historical position and significance. (1561).
What does it mean to speak of “the eventful history of literature”?
How can the new work solve formal and moral problems left behind by the last work, and present new problems in turn?
According to Jauss, what do the formalists believe is the nature of the evolution of literary forms? What is limiting about these views, in his opinion? (1561, innovation for itself does not alone make up artistic character, need to consider social context)
What is gained by considering “literary evolution” through an aesthetics of reception? (1562, merit of work not always immediately perceptible, a work in present creates the taste for understanding works in the past)
What examples does he give of the works of a more recent author influencing the reception of past ones? (1562, Mallarme created greater audience for baroque poets) Can you think of others?
What does it mean to say that the new is not only an aesthetic category but an historical one? (1562, one asks which historical moments first made new that which is new in a literary phenomenon, and how this altered the past, what is the history of aesthetic attitudes)
6. The linguistic emphasis on synchronic analyses--the study of processes at one moment of time--could be used in literary history by studying a cross-section of works of a single period, and comparing this with other such cross-sections.
What does Jauss believe would be the purpose of such a study? (1563) How can we choose the literary events to be studied? (1564, from history of its influence and the perspective of the present)
7. Literary history is a special history distinct from history at large.
How does the reader judge literature? (1564, against the background of other works of art and of everyday experience of life)
What does it mean to say that literature may summon the reader to moral reflection? (1564, grasped in modalities of question and answer, problem and solution)
How should we respond to the gap between history and literature? What should be done, in contrast to accepting the notion that history is literally reflected or represented in literary works? (1564)
What does Jauss see as the purpose of literature? (1564, emancipatory, “it competes with other arts and social forces in the emancipation of mankind from its natural, religious, and social bonds)
Can you see relationships between Jauss’s theories and those of others we have considered? In what ways may he have influenced Wolfgang Iser?
Are there any aspects of Jauss’s theories which might be subject to critique?
Do Jauss's views reflect current critical practice?
page numbers are from the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 2001 1547-64