Do You Receive Me? Reception Theory

TALIM FAHD Reception TheoryIn another of our continuing series of programs with Tangier's King Fahd School of Translation (part of Abdelmalek Essaadi University), TALIM hosted a full house of students in the communications master's program.

The topic was reception theory.

Now, your correspondent may be a practitioner of communication – blogging, public speaking, media interviews – but I had never before come across reception theory.

Perhaps it is best summed up by a couple of cartoons, possibly by students trying to cut their way through dense theory.  First by Doyinsola, then by Vi Paravane.  Be sure to come back to this blog!

For me, since most of the presentations were in Modern Standard Arabic, I enjoyed the capsule summaries provided by Prof. Tayib Boutbouqalt, sitting next to me.  Especially his take on the students in his program, probably a good third of whom would be known in the US as "continuing education," "non-traditional," or "mature" students.  According to Dr. Boutbouqalt, this is a very recent phenomenon in Morocco, which is to be lauded for including professionals in the mix of these graduate classes.

Yesterday's group, for example, included several working journalists and practitioners of corporate communication.  One of the mature students even did a stint as a political prisoner in the days when Morocco had a number of people who paid the price for nonconformity.  Now this person is a civil servant, practicing his journalism in the cause of his country – and taking classes in things like reception theory.

Okay, back to RT.  Reception theory, in case you didn't look at the cartoons, is the study of how messages are understood differently by people with different backgrounds.  You can see a whole bunch of slides on RT by clicking here.

After a wide range of presentations from different schools of thought and linguistic sources, the students engaged in some Q & A.  One question – unanswered – was how reception theory has fared in these days of Facebook, Twitter, etc.  I have a feeling – simply from the average age of much work done on RT, as seen in these JSTOR search results – that the field may have had its heyday in the pre-internet 1980s.

But then, what do I know?  Did you receive me? Over and out.

Gerald Loftus

1 thought on “Do You Receive Me? Reception Theory”

  1. Hi sir,
    first of all I want to thank you for cooperating with our school concerning presenting our work in TALIM, second I’m sorry for you that the presentations were in Arabic but I’m sure that Dr Boutbqalt helped you in understanding what we were talking about, third I think the unanswered question -how reception theory fared in this days of facebook, twitter, etc – doesn’t concern just reception theory but it concerns many other theories like translation theories, communication ones, etc.
    I tried to answer this question-especially that my team and I worked on a text ” Against reception theory”, in which James Loter tried somehow to point out some holes in this theory, we can see this theory from another side, try to develop this theory so as it can be applied to the era of social media and social networks, since it started with studying texts (especially religious ones)with Bennett, and cinema with Klinger, in this studies they’re trying to find out if there is any interaction between the reader and texts or the receiver and films, and how the meaning is produced ( is it objective or subjective ??), does the reader or receiver have any role in creating the meaning or no? taking in consideration the historical and cultural context in which the text or film was produced, I guess in our days, since the receivers participate in creating the product, and interact with the producer, there is an effect that comes out from this, the reception theory is just a start, and as I said it can be developped to analyse all what is happening with the receivers after they interact with what they read, watch or listen to, so as we can know why after that people watch a film (as the town and do a robbery in the same way as it is showed on the movie, why did a child in Morocco suicide after watching a serie trying to do it as one the main characters did it (, why many people tend to immitate what they see in a TV reality show in their real life ? and why did people start to call someone a hater of the prophet Mohamed after they read it in a newspaper? and then we found out that he wasn’t critisizing the prophet but the way islamic education is tought in Morocco to our kids then we talk about how the journalist who wrote this article was objective ?

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