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February 12, 2007

Keesey's Intro: Chapter 2 as a study of what Chapter 2 is, why it is and how Chapter 2 is integral to the study of Chapter 2 without considering

"A study of all of Blake's writings will tell us the various ways he used the word on other occasions. But none of these, says the formalist, will tell us exactly what the word means in the lines in question. Only a full understanding of their immediate context - that is, of the poem itself - will tell us that."

When I read this line I knew it immediately - I've been a formalist for a long, long time. I've always been one of those people who say how the work itself will unlock the mysteries and not outside sources. To be fair, I have said that outside sources might aid in the unlocking of the "deeper meanings" of a given work, but they won't tell the whole story.

I loved the discussion that Keesey presented on Blake's use of the word "charter'd," and the different definitions it could have. He delved deeper into it by discussing the nautical uses of it in reference to the Thames river, but then spun us around when describing the streets of London. This example then became the centerpiece for studying the context of a word. This contextual study, or so I've found, is where Dr. Patterson (among a few others) loved to lead discussion. She loved to get at the root of what the word is and why it was used; how no other world could have possibly been used and this was, essentially, the perfect choice. As for formalists, well, they simply felt as though the context would allow the writer to use unusual wording or use a word in more than one way.

I guess I've always been a formalist. Maybe its time for a new bag.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at February 12, 2007 11:14 PM


Ahh, I'm glad someone else enjoys discussing things like this. I had just one class (sadly) with Dr. Patterson... and the discussions we had about the literature itself were wonderful.

I think that, having read the introduction for chapter 2, I am probably more formalist than any other kind of -ist in the sea of -isms. But I'll have to see if this is still true once our class is over.

Posted by: Karissa at February 13, 2007 10:59 PM

I wish that I could be as sure as the two of you seem to be. I find that after reading the introduction that I could identify with the formalist, but I'm not so sure that that is where my criticism skills are based. I guess only time will tell.

Posted by: Tiffany at February 14, 2007 6:09 PM

I never said I had "skill." I just said I was a formalist, mostly.

Posted by: Kevin at February 14, 2007 7:39 PM

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