Originally published in 1986. This collection of essays is unified by one leading idea: that the active and creative abilities of listeners and readers deserve as much attention as the skills of speakers and writers. It is shown that hearers, far from being passive recipients in the communicative process, are in fact active in selecting, interpreting and creating from the disparate signals they receive. Equally, readers are involved in creating individual patterns of significance from a text. In presenting this argument, some essays deal with the importance of gender considerations, some with special modes of writing such as the private diary and literary translations, and others with the more familiar fields of poetry and drama. In the sphere of popular music, distinctions such as ‘folk’ and ‘pop’ indicate special problems in assessing the ‘authenticity’ of a listener’s response. By concentrating on active listening, the collection develops and illustrates the conviction that there are fundamental premises underlying the various disciplines under review, the analysis of which makes for a fuller understanding of communication in all its forms.
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