October 22, 2012

Who holds the Most power in a Text?

Based on the class discussion the most significant question that has risen from our reading is the relationship between the author and the reader in a text. Many would say that the author holds the power because they are producing the text and there for can mold it to fit a particular genre and audience. On the other hand there's the fact that the reader is the one interpreting the text and therefore truly holds the power because while the author is the encoder the reader is the decoder, and regardless of what the intended signal is, if it isn't received properly then it defeated the intended purpose.

Take a look at Facebook for example. Facebook is a social media channel where statuses are constantly being updated for the public to observe. while the poster may intend for the status to be read one way, it may be taken another--especially with sarcastic posts--and as a result cause an unnecessary uproar. The way the audience receives an intended message ultimately out ways what the author meant to say. This is especially true since we're often told in literature to factor out the author and to only focus on the text and its interpretation.


Ben Barnard said...

I agree to an extent. The person perceiving the message certainly has the power to misunderstand the initial meaning of the author. And more than likely, from my own observations, they will misunderstand the author. There was a lesson my AP lit teacher did in High School where she handed out a typed essay and asked us to review it and break down what the underlying themes of said essay were. So we spent the next thirty or so minutes breaking this essay down and coming up with incredibly complex meanings, only to be told that it was written by a third grader (she edited a few words so it wasn't too obvious.) The fact that we were coming up with intended purposes for the writing that the author certainly had no conception of at the time of writing it, proved that the audience has power of literature and interpretation. The question though is, even though the reader has power, do they have agency? These terms are closely related, but certainly not the same. The idea of the reader having agency is a question we have been presented with in class more and more, I am beginning to lean towards the side that they do not have agency, but have a power that is tied to the book as an agent.

Jessica Weaver said...

It is hard to determine who truly holds the power when text is concerned. Again, our class ran into this problem while reading Longinus- in the very beginning he states his demands of the author and then continues on to descirbe the job of the reader. Both the reader and the writer have a job to do however depending how each one does their specific job, the effectiveness of the text can either be seen clearly or completely fall through. Longinues makes these jobs of the author and audience very clear to his reader therefore his audience is able to interepret his intended purpose. I enjoyed the connection you made between our class and FaceBook. Our generation spends so much time on social networking sites that is it hard to ignore the blantant and unintentional rhetoric used in every day life. FaceBook statuses can be read just like an article in the way that the audience and the author have a purpose in reading or writing it. It is when the status or tweet is misinterpreted that the intended purpose of the author was not clear and caused audience confusion.

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