Lit Crit term

There is a specific term in literary criticism (and art criticism and film criticism) that is used to describe the meaning projected into a text or work by the reader/critic, that is in addition (and in fact be more important) than what was the artist’s intention. I have been wracking my brain for hours trying to remember what the term is, or come up with a way of finding it on google, and I can’t. :smack: Perhaps the teeming millions can help.




Those are all fine answers, but not the specific term I was looking for. It came to mind when watching a program on Showcase, one of the characters was lamenting that her work had been taken over by its readers, and that their interpretation was being accepted as definitive… well, I can hope for more replies… or maybe watch a lot of reruns… Thanks for taking a stab at it to this point folks.

Argh. I know this one. I think it’s part of reader-response theory, but I can’t think of the term itself.

You mean where the reader bases their criticism of the text on their personal reaction? Affective fallacy?

Reader Response?

Yeah, it sounds like Reader response criticism

“According to reader-response criticism, the reader is a producer rather than a consumer of meanings.”

Frustrating isn’t it…, I like HazelNutCoffee’s suggestion, but I am pretty sure I am trying to remember a single word.

Sleep beckons, I hope some tortured soul has an inspirational flash and offers up the term I am looking for. Thanks to everyone so far who has made suggestions.



Hm. Are you looking for a term that specifically refers to the readers’ interpretation of the text, and not the concept of it? The closest terms I can think of are reconstruction or formulation. Maybe this site will help you think of the term you’re looking for.

I re-read the OP and realized that the affective fallacy belongs to New Criticism, which believes that criticism of the text should not be tainted with the intentions of either the author or the reader. Since you’re looking for a term that supports reader-response criticism, this is definitely not what you’re looking for. :smack:

intentional fallacy?


Intentional fallacy is when the criticism is based on the author’s intent, not the reader’s. In any case, like “affective fallacy” the term comes from New Criticism (which argues that interpretation of the text should be free of subjective opinions, be they the author’s or the reader’s) and not reader-response criticism.

Yes, but I suspect the OP may be groping for the term that indicates the author’s intentions are irrelevent, and merely inferring that that must elevate the reader’s interpretation. And in practice this is how the term is often used.

Well, FWIW, the OP does say


I agree with the general opinion that we’re probably looking for a term from reader-response criticism. And a positive term at that; both affective fallacy and intentional fallacy are terms used to criticize what they refer to.

Are you thinking of semiotics?

Again, thanks to everyone who has offered suggestions. Nothing so far suggested has resulted in that “Eureka” moment… But I am still hoping.

I am almost certain you are thinking of eisegesis.