Date of Award

4-24-2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. David Magill

Second Advisor

Dr. Craig A. Challender

Third Advisor

Dr. Audrey P. Church

Abstract

This thesis argues that the relationship that exists among author, text and reader, compels the reader toward complicity. While a market share of new narrative theory aspires to relieve the writer of his duties once the text is complete, other theories attest that the writer retains his mastery over meaning, spawned by an authorial consciousness that leaves the reader somewhat passive, if not impotent, to reality. Thus, the reader is manipulated by a traditional consciousness of reader as merely interpreter of events that relinquishes any responsibility on the reader's part of what lies within the text. Yet, a more contemporary body of literary criticism suggest that there exists a mutual, universal understanding among author, text and reader which transcends the boarders of a given text, leaving the reader susceptible to complicity. But how can a reader be held responsible for something he did not create? Is it possible for the reader to participate in acts that occur in a work of fiction? Using reader-response theory as a foundation, I will explore these questions to examine the ethical responsibility readers incur in Toni Morrison's Beloved and Paradise.

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