Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Horizon of Expectations

A term devised by critic Hans Robert Jauss to describe the context within which a given generation of readers will understand a work. Within that context – that horizon – the particular generation may come to view certain kinds of material (e.g., Faerie, the supernatural and Hell) as being clustered together into a genre, where previously such material may have borne no genre import and not have been perceptually associated. Any attempt to define Fantasy must suggest a point in literary history at which readers (and writers) began to define previously scattered topics as being clustered together within an HOE. [JC]

see also: Genre Fantasy.

further reading: Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory (1967) by Hans Robert Jauss; A Dictionary of Literary Terms (1977; latest rev vt A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory 1991) by J A Cuddon.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.