Could It Be True!?

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From Contexts for Criticism by Donald Keesey:

"This concern for the wholeness of the poetic object is an important characteristic of formalism, for the goal of formal analysis is to show how the various elements in the poem fit together, how the parts cohere to produce the whole, and how our understanding of the whole conditions our understanding of the parts" (77).

   Do my eyes deceive me or do I see what resembles an answer!?  In English, it seems that we are presented more questions than answers.  Rarely can we say, "This is definitely the correct interpretation" because someone, as Dr. Jerz said, could easily shoot down our claim by just finding one flaw or counter example.  When I read this sentence, I was electrified.  It's not that I don't like the fact that I'm never completely wrong (although I don't like the fact that I'm never completely right either) but it was nice to see a formula of some sort.  Keesey might have said poetic devices+structure+word meanings as determine by the text=how the poem all fits together.  This gives me as a writer a finish line, something to strive toward instead of playing a giant game of "Where's Waldo" with my work (alliteration much?).  But in case you do want to play "Where's Waldo," here's an example of one of the puzzles.  I found him but he's a little hard to see.

What do you think about this quote?  How does it make you feel?

Back to the course webpage, please

1 Comments

Erica Gearhart said:

I agree with you, Angela. I think Keesey is doing a pretty good job of actually giving us some answers regarding criticism and how it should work. I really liked this section of the text that you quoted, and I also liked the diagram he gave in chapter one that explains schools of criticism. I also like the comparison you made to "Where's Waldo"-it does sometimes seem like we are trying to find a needle in a haystack when it comes to writing and understanding literary criticism.

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