A Reflection of Literary Criticism at SHU

At the beginning of the course, I was unaware of what literary criticism was and how someone used it. In my first week's entry called A Paradox of the Unkown I questioned the phrase "Beauty is truth" (Austin 49) and how it is similar to a paradox. On a second reading of this quote and blog entry, I thought how there is not one specific truth to Keats's poem, but many becuase the urn is an object that represents all aspects of a culture and how each culture sees it in a different way. As the term began to start up, I wondered if History Was Necessary to Write Literature because of how literature contains a lot of examples, metaphors, and references to history. My classmates and I created a lengthy discussion that proposed how literature is similar to philosophy and is interpreted in different ways based on a person's own critical knowledge. The concepts of formalism and reader response were taught by Dr. Jerz in class and I began to wonder how one can only use a text to criticize literature or use their own response. A Formalist Approach or a Reader-Response made me think how a formalist would only study the words of Keats's poem and would not look to the symbolism and imagery that the urn holds. It seemed to me that when someone criticizes literature, then they can use multiple schools of thought in relation to one specific topic.

Not only did I learn about formalism and reader response, but I was introduced to a new type of blogging called a blog carnival. This entry is similar to an in-class discussion of a text, but it is in a virtual format. Specific classmates and myself applied criticism to "The Dead" by James Joyce. This outstanding blog carnival sparked discussion that questioned the snow and main character. From this experience, I learned that reader response in relation to formalism is a great combination because it showed me how literary criticism is not only used on scholarly texts, but on any text that is apart of literature.

In addition, formalism made me question how a Reader Stays on Course when they are reading a text in relation to critcism. Concepts of race, gender, and religion are usually popular themes that people relate to, but a formalist must try to be an ideal reader who strives against relating to these issues. A classmate mentioned that it is important to highlight a text while reading because this will help the formalist stay on topic and focus on the text instead of outside themes.

Another topic that I learned was psychological criticism and its affect not only on a literary text, but on a Hollywood production or movie. A classmate and I decided that we were going to analyze The Dark Knight and use a psychological approach on Batman, the Joker, and Harvey Dent. These characters all represent forms of psychology and how their minds work in the city of Gotham. Once we composed our website called Batman we noticed that the characters could be related to a Christ complex, an oedipus complex, and the pygmalion effect which are all apart of psychological criticism.

Another important topic that I learned in literary criticism was that an essay can have more than one answer and intertextual criticism can be used to support the other answers. Long before my in-class presentation I composed a blog entry called Male Control vs. Female Sanity and used several outside sources to support my critical viewpoint. A poem by Anne Sexton called "The Room of My Life" and a painting by Murillo called "Two Women at a Window" showed how important intertextual criticism is when looking at a text. Readers may not only see one meaning, but they can relate different types of medias from the time period to help prove that women did not have much control and many female authors were searching for their place and identity.

Lastly, the essay by Derrida gave me some closure to how literary criticism works in a text. The concept of deconstruction is not only one way to look at a text, but it provides the reader with several different ways of understanding a text, phrase, or word. If we take the urn in Keats's poem and deconstruct it, then we can see a female, an object, a tomb, a planter, a representation of history, and much more. Through the many ways that we see an object or text it gives us many options to how literature is viewed. In reference to history, Derrida came to the Rescue which allows us to use multiple schools of criticism with our own knowledge. On this same topic, a post-structuralist would look at Derrida's deconstruction theory as being very practical and useful because there is not one specific way to look at a text or one correct answer, but there are many views that are correct as long as they are supported with some form of criticism or scholarly source.

Overall, this course has taught me how important literary criticism is and how many different ways that it can be applied to a text. The many types include formalism, reader response, struturalism, post-structuralism, historical criticism, intertextual criticism, and a few more. These critical views lend way to each person that looks at a piece of literature because even though people think that they are not applying criticism, they really are. It is through literary criticism and my weekly casebook papers that I have been able to learn how a text's many meanings are just a beginning to how in-depth they can go. In addition, history, culture, government, education, and much more these are only a few topics that literature includes and each person can use these topics to create a solid foundation of literary criticism.

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on April 22, 2009 5:34 PM.

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