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April 6, 2007

What's the big idea?

Eagleton, ''Literature and History'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)
“…Literature is nothing but ideology in a certain artistic form—that works of literature are just expression of the ideologies of their time.” (425)

I always pictured Marxists as guys in jumpsuits bitching about the economy…boy was I wrong! It’s amazing that society has gotten to the point when much of what we see in movies is based on what we had for breakfast. Watching “period films” I think of how much we’ve changed as a society, but yet we still have the same problems and hang-ups as they did, but perhaps on a smaller scale than Marie Antoinette. Whatever a writer is going through usually triggers their writing, but we’ve already learned that in other criticisms, so where does that leave us? Mr. Marxist Eagleton let’s us know not to get too deep it seems, for he has explained that everything we do is just a reflection of the ideas of our time era. That makes me feel rather recycled and boring, but a smidge hopeful. If writers in other time eras faltered maybe we can use their mistakes and build bigger, better ideologies and see how that helps/hinders society. Maybe we’ll just stick with what time hands us. Do you think literature really is just ideology?

Posted by ErinWaite at April 6, 2007 11:42 AM


Just ideology? Well, I'm not sure I'd put it that way... Ideology is more influential on society's identity, as it is built in the future, than are most other cultural artifacts, in my opinion. If literature reflects the way we're thinking at the time it's written, then it has a direct impact on the future (since nothing can occur out of "nothing"). It works in other ways, though, too. Writing impacts the future because that's where NEW ideas are formed--from what hasn't happened or what hasn't been said.

While lit-as-ideology might seem like a hall of mirrors in a particular point in time, I like to think of it as a beam of light being shot through that hall of mirrors (instead of just looking into it for myself). Light can be bent and reformed, and if it's reflecting from mirrors then it'll just keep on reflecting into the infinite future! I guess what I'm trying to say is that literature has the potential to be a constant and lasting reflection from which to build the future ideas and other ideologies.

(Did I say anything that made any sense?)

Posted by: Karissa at April 8, 2007 10:42 PM

Absolutely! Eagleton depressed me a little and when you reminded me that we are changing the future and can build off of those ideas, I felt much more hopeful. I really liked your mirror metaphor.

Posted by: Erin at April 10, 2007 11:56 AM

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