Identify and explain ONE theoretical concept from Reader Response theory.

**Whatever option you decide to go with, I can provide the book pages (images) and the documents of the theories
You can choose to write this assignment on either Hanna’s article (Reader Response) or Howard’s article (Structuralism). Just pick ONE.

Option A: Hanna (Reader Response applied to Sir Gawain)

This journal entry is based on Ralph Hanna’s article on the interpretations of the girdle in SGGK that we read as our example of Reader Response theory in action (it’s pp. 116-31 in the Norton and we discussed this on Sep 2).

In this journal entry, you need to do three things:

1. Identify and explain ONE theoretical concept from Reader Response theory. You can use Iser (eg “expectations,” “gaps,” “alien associations,” “memory”) or Fish (“interpretive communities”, or “experience as meaning”). You should quote from the theorist and briefly explain and unpack the concept you’ve chosen.

2. Then, explain how a specific portion of Hanna’s analysis is informed by this concept. For instance, if I write about Version 4 of the girdle (the girdle proclaimed by Arthur and Camelot as a mark of honor and fellowship), I could use Fish’s idea of interpretive communities (and how the interpretive assumptions of the community produces ‘the meaning’ of the girdle). Another example, when discussing Version 1 of the girdle (It’s Magic!) Hanna argues that the way we’ve experienced the text (our expectations about what’s important) jostle against this interpretation. Of course, you need to elaborate to explain how Hanna’s argument is grounded in the particular concept you’ve chosen.

In this section, I suggest that you pick one version of the girdle that Hanna discusses and see if you can find the connections between a theoretical concept in Reader Response and how Hanna makes his point.

3. Finally, take that very concept that you’ve been working with and apply it to another section/ detail/ episode/ character / symbol in the text. Here, you would see if you can work your own analysis of another textual element through the same conceptual lens that you’ve already identified in Hanna’s reading of the girdle.
More Notes on Hanna’s Article

If you paid attention in class, I suspect that this assignment should be rather easy at the level of generating content. However, it might still be challenging to write about a critic’s arguments and theoretical assumptions in a cogent way. So, stick to this three-part structure that I’ve given you.

Ideally, you should read over at least one or two of Hanna’s “Versions of the girdle” sections before deciding which is a. the best version to discuss and b. the theoretical concept from Iser or Fish to use.

Always keep in view the fact that Hanna’s “big argument” isn’t about ratifying one particular version of the girdle. Instead, it’s about re-framing the various “meanings” imputed to the girdle such that the difficult issue of interpretation itself is the subject at hand.

Option B: Howard (Structuralism applied to Sir Gawain)

This journal entry is based on Donald Howard’s article on the binary between the shield and the girdle in SGGK that we read as our example of structuralism in action (it’s pp. 106-116 in the Norton and we discussed this on Sep 2).

In this journal entry, you need to do three things:
1. Identify and explain ONE theoretical concept from structuralism. You can use Saussure (eg what are the two components that make up the sign? “The sign is arbitrary”; “The linear dimension of the sign” ) or Jakobson (“the substitutive” and the “combinative”; the binary categories that structure analysis). You should quote from the theorist and briefly explain and unpack the concept / feature of structuralism you’ve chosen. You could use Parker here to supplement some of the theory, especially if you’re focusing on the procedure of coding, finding categories, and the binary logic that governs structuralist frameworks.

2. Then, explain how a specific portion of Howard’s analysis is informed by this concept. For instance, if you’re interested in the “arbitrary” nature of of the sign, you might focus on how Howard (near his opening) argues for the relational significance between the girdle and shield. Or, if you’re interested in the way structuralism splits the sign into the “signifier” and “signified,” you can identify how Howard uses this logic in attributing “signifieds” to the girdle and shield that he then uses to analyze the narrative structure of the corresponding episodes.

3. Finally, try to apply the analytical approach that you’ve been commenting on to another episode or character that Howard hasn’t really touched on. For instance, do the binaries also apply to some of the characters like Queen Guinevere, Lady B., and Morgan le Fay? Are there other episodes that Howard hasn’t analyzed too deeply (eg correspondences between the seduction and the hunts) that could benefit from the binary structure between honor and dishonor that Howard sets-up?

Length Requirement

The entry needs to be at least 600-words long. (It’s an electronic submission so words can be counted easily. Plus, I have the superpower of knowing when a scriipt is short …). There’s no upper limit, so write on, if you wish: everything you write will be considered.

Short responses will be penalized by taking a percentage of the projected grade. EG, a 500 word entry that might have earned a 90 would earn (500/600 x 90) = 75. This is meant to be a deterrent, so meet the minimum!

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