History Necessary to Write Literature - Do you think?

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"I want to suggest that the The Tempest, at the historical moment of its production and reception, should be seen in terms of both the freedom to consider vexed political issues and the freedom from authorial policing of the production of meaning which are characteristic of texts inscribed in the literary field" (Yachnin 37).

A lot of literature represents a form of history and it is important to analyze it when trying to determine what a text means.

Shakespeare was writing during a time that society was beginning to develop, but this play represents a political and controlling viewpoint. Yachnin is trying to tell readers that these are parts of literature that are necessary. Take for instance, a doctor trying to do surgery. If that doctor does not know what is involved or the tools he/she needs to complete it then that's not good. The same rule seems to apply to literature and what it contains. The author uses specific tools (such as history, power, or poetic form) to describe a text that will be used for generations.

Do you think that the audience that Shakespeare was writing for was much different than the audience today?

We may have more knowledge of that time in history, but we are still readers like they were.

Click here for the web page devoted to Yachnin

6 Comments

Well if one operates by the philosophy (oh I shudder at the sound of that word) of history repeats itself, then the audience is not so different than it was back then. Even though we are far from Shakespeare's time, we have experienced the issues his people went through, even if it is in a much different context. We may apply it to our lives today because I think that many authors of the past would love the idea of their works being used to help future generations.

Well if one operates by the philosophy (oh I shudder at the sound of that word) of history repeats itself, then the audience is not so different than it was back then. Even though we are far from Shakespeare's time, we have experienced the issues his people went through, even if it is in a much different context. We may apply it to our lives today because I think that many authors of the past would love the idea of their works being used to help future generations.

Honestly, I think that the audience Shakespeare wrote for was different enough from us, that we need footnotes and historical events explained for us. I'm not saying that the general ideas aren't still pertinent to today's readers, I'm just saying that they probably caught a lot more of the historical importance or Shakespeare's ideas in comparison to us.

I believe history definitly has a strong part in interpreting literature. I think people forget to look at the time period a piece was written and then they come to wrong conclusions. Though, it is important to look at a text through our own cultural lens, it is equally important when critiquing to remember that the original audience may have seen the text slightly different.

Now after reading the texts for February 19, do you think that we should be a formalist when reading a text or start with the structure or semiotics?

History is important, but not to a formalist and maybe a reader may respond to a text with personal experience or if it related to them.

Where should we start or does it depend on the reader?

Derek, I think you present some good questions. Personally, I think it depends on a couple things.

First, I think certain texts lend themselves to being analyzed using certain methods better than others. For example, for a lot of older works, historicism is going be a lot more important to a reading than a contemporary text where for the most part we can assume that we have the same understanding of the meanings of words.

But I also think it is largely just up the person writing the criticism what they do. Each person who views a text is going to view it in a different way and I think as long as that person presents his/her argument in the strongest way he/she can based on his/her abilities and handling of the different schools of criticism I think it’s ok.

However, having said that, I think that almost all essays should include some aspects of a formalist read. As Eagleton pointed out, most critics are all in agreement that parts of formalism, such as the careful attention to the words and their order, strengthen one’s argument. And I agree with this, I think most types of criticism can be combined easily with aspects of a formalist reading and by using this combination of methods I think it just adds another layer of believability to one’s argument.

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on February 7, 2009 3:25 PM.

Literature Representing a Controlling Past was the previous entry in this blog.

Language and History (There seems to be a theme occurring) is the next entry in this blog.

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