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April 21, 2007

EL312: Apostrophizing feminist tendencies: wait--I'm a victim?

Oh Garson must think she is so clever, hiding the fact that she's a feminist until the final pages of her essay...

I had my guesses early on since her analysis of Keats's poem seems far too critical. "Bodily harm"? Suddenly I'm thinking a disgruntled visitor was throwing vases and urns in a crowded museum after learning Britain basically stole them from Greece... (I was wrong, but it was fun to consider.) Garson draws on England's appropriation of Greek sculpture to provide an illustration of Keats's beady-eyed glory-tale (or at least that's how she makes it sound):

Indeed, Keats's poem announces its aspirations to literariness in every way. To write an ode was to appropriate the language of cultural power; to write an ecphrastic poem was in 1819 to employ a fashionable form with distinct academic and class associations. What better genre could be chosen by a young poet ardently hoping for membership in a pantheon from which his detractors had sought to exclude him at least partly on grounds of social class? (453)

"Ecphrastic" isn't a word, by the way. (The closest thing is "ecphractic.") Two strikes for Garson, by my score book.

What did Keats ever do to her? Okay, while it might be a step off from authorial intent and historical feminist criticism each argument she provides in reference to the poem attacks the language in defense of the female figures on the urn. While it's totally possible that the images were, indeed, of "men or gods" chasing after some "maidens," by considering the urn itself a female entity Garson draws a thick black line between herself and Keats--she draws up battlegrounds with the urn on the line. I felt forced to choose a side, and I chose Keats since he's anthologized and... oh wait, Garson's essay is in this anthology on literary criticism isn't it? Rats. Score one for Garson...

Regardless--I felt victimized as I read the essay (as a female reader). And while i can't say I haven't felt victimized while reading "Ode on a Grecian Urn," I know that the historical perspective that Garson provided isn't really giving me a reason to agree with her. She refers to feminist ideals that she never clearly identifies--thus apostrophizing her own feminist ideology.

Garson, 'Bodily Harm" Keats's Figures in the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn''' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at April 21, 2007 9:49 PM


I agree with you Karissa. This entry made me feel that, as a female, I should go out and smash up some pottery.

Okay, maybe not. Garson does kind of skimp on her meanings, though--I don't always understand what point she's trying to make.

Posted by: Valerie Masciarelli at April 22, 2007 9:59 PM

Oh, I definetly got the feminist slant of the piece as well. And although I usually enjoy such pieces, this one seemed a bit much, even for me.

Also, I think she focused too much on culture, if that can be possible for a cultural historicism reading. While I appreciate the nice background information about the British museum, was it really necessary for helping me to read this text? I think that with culturalism, it needs to be well balanced with another form of criticism to give it, well, weight. This is an excellent example of how lit crit theories can mesh and go hand in hand- had Garson used culturalism with, say authorial intent, we might have been able to get more out of the essay.

Posted by: Nessa at April 30, 2007 3:44 PM

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