Reading In Between The Lines


Contexts Of Criticism, Keesey

Literary Crticism-- EL 312

In the view of another group of critics, this tendency to look either to the author or to the audience causes causes us to overlook the very thing that unites them -- the literary work itself.

Along with our lovely Lit. Crit. class, I'm taken Introduction to Poetry with Father Stephen Honeygosky. He always stressed the importance of looking at the structure of the poem before looking at the meaning. By being literary critics, we have the option of approaching a literary work either way. Keesey describes that we might have thousand different answers to a very simple question about the work. That is what we have to realize in this class. It is not about the answer itself, but what we use to get the answer. Dr. Herbert Simon of Stanford University states that "enormous thought goes into the production of texts and perhaps even more (given the ratio of readers to writers) into interpreting them". Simon considers literary criticism as a cognitive science.

We must go beyond basic understanding of English, because every single reader not pursuing our profession performs a basic criticism. Nevertheless, we must embrace that every single reader brings a certian way to interpret a work. Keesey said that " ...for every reading is an active process of making sense, an interpretation". Learning what the yellow wallpaper stand for in "The Yellow Wallpaper" maybe what we what to do for a career, but eventually everyone who reads make a criticism.


This is true, Kevin. Without even thinking about it, we turn on a television show or flip through a magazine at the grocery store and instantly decide to keep reading or watching based on our initial reaction. I think we need to learn about literary criticism so we can learn about ourselves and perhaps re-evaluate the way we decide our literature preferences.

Kevin, this is a great quote you choose. Your line "that is what we have to realize in this class. It is not about the answer itself, but what we use to get the answer", basically is what this class is intended for all of us to walk away with. We all know what the answers are or could be, but how do we come up with these answers. I feel that sometimes I look at the author and criticize the work by their experience or I often tend to try to figure out who the intended audience was. Most of the time, I then take a step back and say, well the work is intended for everyone and allow them to get their own interpretation of it.

Great points guys. Sometimes it really is the journey that is more important than the destination.

I can already see that you guys are coming at this with an attitude that promises to be very productive.