Avoiding the Norm

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"If we are anxious to pretend that poems could ever 'exist indenpendently of the author's intentions,' we had better banish all idea of the norm" (Watson 32).

So is Watson saying that the norm is people usually believe that writing cannot be interpreted unless we consider the author's intentions? Does this mean the norm usually interprets according to the historical method, or can just looking at the author's original intentions be done without refering to background information. I'm getting a little confused because it seems so many of these critics are criticising each others methods for interpretation and its hard to keep them all straight. It seems so far, however, that most of the critics disagree with the historical apporach to interpreting works and side with more of a Formalist viewpoint. I'm not sure which side to agree on because they are all starting to sound so much of the same to me.

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Derek Tickle said:

I believe that a "norm" is something that a society, all together, agrees on. When you go against that norm and use your own judgment then your going against society. In other words, using your own opinion allows us to form a viewpoint that someone else may not have thought of. In my mind, a critic provides someone with a different viewpoint from our own. It's what we are reading for this class.

Bethany Merryman said:

Although I can see what Derek is saying about norms, I don't think they are always "right," which may also be objective. But norms have far too much of the gray area stuff--it's NEVER just black and white. However, I do agree with you that Lit Crit is getting a little confusing...I swear they just talk in circles. I just want an answer sometimes, too bad I don't like math more.

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