Intersubjective Reception

The Communicative Construction of Meaning in Reading Groups

Sonja Fücker (Bremen)

Literary works can be understood as an important source of knowledge about the world in which we live. Research on reception processes focusses on understanding the way how knowledge that is mediated through literary narratives is interpreted by readers and what kind of knowledge is relevant for audiences. The function of literature to mediate knowledge is given particular attention, when ›facts‹ are at the center of narration, as in the case of scientific knowledge. Under the emerging literary label of ›science novels‹ science related knowledge is embedded in literary narratives. Based on a corpus of science novels we aim to show, how scientific knowledge is acquired, transformed or consolidated from literature in reading circles through group specific communication dynamics. With results from a reception study in English-speaking reading groups in Germany and Great Britain we will trace, to what extent the negotiation of meanings influences the text interpretations of recipients. At the interface of the sociology of literature and interaction research our analysis indicates, that group reception, in contrast to individual reception processes, consolidates individual readers’ interpretations by producing socially shared meanings. Practices of questioning, persuasion and argumentation facilitate such modes of intersubjectivity.