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April 18, 2007

Le Blog Formal: Component Academic

Term Project -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)
*I am going to have people watch the video, do a worksheet and then look at the lyrics to see how quickly we pick up on intertextuality as a whole, so most of this will only make sense after the class.
According to Northop Frye’s reading of The Tempest, “If the adult completely loses this childlike response (to literature), he loses something very central to the dramatic experience.” (Keesey 299). Frye certainly inspired my ideas of intertextuality. I wanted us to realize that while intertextuality can be taught, it is something already ingrained in our brains. If we watch the “The Simpsons,” we may realize that Itchy and Scratchy are really just like Tom and Jerry or that in an episode called “The Shining,” when Homer watches Monty Burns’ house and realizes there is no T.V. or beer, “his rage is played out to parody the Stephen King novel and Stanley Kubrick film "The Shining.”(Horowitz 2). Even if you didn’t already know this, you knew that you’d seen something else in the media similar to what you are watching or reading somewhere before.
You can call this déjà vu, but what you really must come to terms with is acknowledging like a recovering alcoholic that “Yes, I’ve seen this before,” and “Yes, I know what it means.” If you are not just a couch potato, but a literary critic, you are already asking the right question: What did it all stem from?
What I like about Frye’s idea is that if we assume we already know who the killer is or what will happen since Santa Claus isn’t real (supposedly) , we lose the whole effect of our literary experience. For instance, if while reading The Tempest, we just said “magic doesn’t exist” and “punishing people by using horse piss is bullocks” then we would pull a David Moio (sorry, but you’ve said book-throwing is one of your hidden talents) and not even bother reading. Similarly, to understand “Lazy Sunday” is very simple, but if we were to sit back and say that this is just a song about people going to see a movie about centaurs, we might not see the real depth in it. As we read The Tempest along with Frye, he says that it’s “almost a comic parody of a revenge tragedy.” While “Lazy Sunday” may not be a direct parody, it uses many parts of our culture to make it so heavy with intertextuality that I’ll have you watch the video and see if you can pick up on all of the references to music, movies, actors, and even popular baked goods are made. These references are what give us the chance to be child-like and have a chuckle or make us question what kind of reader we are. Discussion question: What kind of reader are you and do you think the song lyrics can contribute to the definition of intertextuality or does it just mock the way we are as a society? Professor Daniel Chandler of the University of Wales explains this much better than I could. He says that “the semiotic notion of intertextuality introduced by Julia Kristeva is associated primarily with poststructuralist theorists. Kristeva referred to texts in terms of two axes: a horizontal axis connecting the author and reader of a text, and a vertical axis, which connects the text to other texts (Kristeva 1980, 69). Uniting these two axes are shared codes: every text and every reading depends on prior codes. Kristeva declared that 'every text is from the outset under the jurisdiction of other discourses which impose a universe on it'.” (Chandler 1). While my interpreting the lyrics that reference “dropping Hamiltons” loving cupcakes like “McAdams loves Gosling,” may not be as earth-shattering or intelligent, it allows us to see that how all of our text are interrelated. From Matt Groening using “The Raven” in “The Simpsons” to Frye doing an intertextual reading of The Tempest, we as readers are almost required to apply other forms of criticism to even find the jokes remotely funny. Discussion question: What other types of criticism do you think would have been helpful for you to pick up all the intertextual references of “Lazy Sunday?”
Overall, “Lazy Sunday” and The Tempest come from two very different time eras, but each require some degree of a suspension of disbelief, a knowledge or pop culture, but even more so, a willingness to look at any text with multiple lenses to interpret it. While I may not be a critic, I’ve realized some of the different criticisms that could be applied to “Lazy Sunday.” Here are some just for fun.
Historical- You need to know who Hamilton is to laugh.
Cultural- Google and Map quest can help with driving directions
Reader-Response- How you feel about The Chronicles of Narnia may affect your response to the lyrics
Post structural- As a class we will be breaking down the lyrics and putting them back together to see what they may mean as a whole.
I could go one forever, but to further compare my “Lazy Sunday” reading with Frye’s reading of The Tempest or to get a discussion going, check out one of my first Frye blogs or feel free to give me links to your blogs that you might feel helpful. As a class I think we’ve really all come to the conclusion: While it’s fun to incorporate our own lives to the text, it’s important to keep our opinions separate and look at the work as a whole before we past judgment, but what makes intertextuality so damn appealing is that we encouraged to apply our own experiences and that gives a more personal relationship with the text. Do you agree or disagree?

Posted by ErinWaite at April 18, 2007 3:03 PM


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