My essay is still very much a work-in-progress but I have constructed a thesis statement I feel is at least a good starting point for my argument that modern reading practices often move away from the author as a vital piece of the text towards a new type of reading experience that focuses more on the reader and their habit of imposing their own ideas about what the text should mean, rather than what was originally meant.

Thesis Statement: Byatt’s characters possess their understanding and appreciation of literature after approaching a text in an arguably biased manner. Modern reading practices may involve said biased manner when the reader employs their own experiences and/or feelings of contempt for the author or subject, as is the case for Maud; when a text’s author becomes less important to the reader than succeeding literary criticism; and finally when  the author becomes absent and thus the reader may employ the criticism or theory of another in their place in order to make sense of the text.

Primary Sources:

1. Byatt’s Possession

2. Manguel reading

3. Sherman reading

Secondary Sources:

1. Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author”. Modern Literary Theory.

4th Ed. Philip Rice and Patricia Waugh. New York: Oxford University

Press, 2001. p. 180-190. Print.

  • I will use this to discuss different reading practices and to support my argument that the contemporary reader arguably moves far enough away from the text towards their own ideas of what a text should be and should provide that there author’s intent has been lost

2. Foucault, Michel. “What Is An Author?.” Language, Counter-

Memory, Practice. Donald F. Bouchard. Revised ed. New York: Cornell

University Press, 1977. 124-127. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. <http://evans-


  • I will use this to discuss the importance of an author in the first place as there are texts that have been circulated without knowledge of their author, and therefore the reading  of it arguably becomes solely dependent on one’s experience of a text based on what others have argued about it in previous years

3. Gass, William H.. “Death of the Author.” Salmagundi. Robert Boyers.

Vol. 1. Saratoga Springs: Skidmore College, 1984. 6-10. Web. 20 Mar.

2013. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/40547668>.

  • I will use this with Foucault to discuss that the absence of an author allows the reader to allocate the text’s habits to a different one, a theorist just as Lacan for example.

4. Todorov, Tzvetan. “Reading As Construction.” The Reader in the Text:

Essays on Audience and Interpretation. Susan R. Suleiman and Inge

Crosman Wimmers. Illustrated ed. Cambridge: University Press, 1980.

67. Print.

  • I will use this to support my inclusion of Sherman’s work on reading practices used in early modern England
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One Response to “Prospectus”

  1. ullyot says:

    You don’t need to use Sherman if he’s not the best source on historical readings. Generally speaking this is a good beginning, but I want to learn more about your choice of Byatt. What aspects of the novel will you focus on? What sections will your argument have? Elaborate on the intention-versus-critical tradition dichotomy you’re setting up.

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