February 26, 2007
Entrapment is Unconsciously Portrayed by Women Authors?
"Still, the male writer is so much more comfortable with his literary role that he can usually elaborate upon his visionary theme more consciously and objectively than the female writer can" (260).
This doesn't really make sense to me. Why should it be easier for men to be more conscious and objective when it comes to depicting imprisonment in their writings if it is, as the authors say in the next sentence "metaphysical and metaphorical' when a woman's experience with imprisonment is "social and actual." So because the apparent entrapment of women is, according to the authors, actually real, woman can only write about it unconsciously? I seriously doubt Gilman wrote about entrapment accidentally as a result of unconscious effort.
Lessing is too Specific
"The visual arts depict the pregnant moment while poetry tells of developing actions; they have different temporalities" (245).
Of course they have different temporalities, if they did the exact same thing in the same way we wouldn't have both would we? What a person gets out of studying a poem is going to be very different from what a person gets out of studying a painting. But, both are still imitations of life and both can be used to imitate the same aspect of life, even though they do it differently. Two people can experience the exact same thing and see it, react to it, and remember it quite differently. Why shouldn't art, in all its forms do the same thing? Lessing may see poetry and visual arts as different in "the object of their imitation" but really both really are still imitating life. This specificity is not really useful to our study of art in terms of its mimetic quality.
February 25, 2007
"Trope: One of the two major divisions of figures of speech (the other being rhetorical figures). Trope comes from a word that literally means 'turning'; to trope...is, figuratively speaking, to turn or twist some word or phrase to make it mean something else" (490). (Examples: Metaphor, metonymy, personification, simile, and synecdoche)
Shame on me for not already knowing this word! And I call myself an English major!?! I had heard it before and probably seen it more times than I can count. But, boy am I glad I looked it up because all of the above examples of trope I am quite familiar with and I have to admit I have always misidentified them as rhetorical strategies. Wow, do I feel stupid now. What I don't understand is why in high school they don't tell you that figures of speech are divided into two major divisions!?!?! And with simile, metaphor, and personification being some of the most frequently identified figures of speech you think I would have been more familiar with this term, but no. I always hear about rhetorical figures, never trope. I'm glad I am aware of it now and will no longer continue embarrassing myself by confusing these two divisions.
Morality in Life
"This does not mean that we should throw out or refuse to read these works, but that they should be read with a perspective that recognizes the sexism inherent in their moral vision" (230).
I was glad to read this explicitly in Donovan's essay because prior to the above statement, I was concerned that she felt it only worthy to read and study works that portrayed women as "authentic" and as independent beings just as capable as men of growth and change. That would certainly have cut out a large number of great works from the cannon.
Yet, I worry that by being constantly on the lookout for works with "the sexism inherent in their moral vision" could make reading a work less enjoyable as well as less effective in other terms. But, she still makes a strong case overall.
I am a little confused about Donovan's preoccupation with the idea that "great art is sustained by the integrity of a moral vision" (227). She makes it sound as though all literature should emphasize what is morally right, (such as recognizing women as a separate self, not an object or "other") is that what she is saying? If it is I want to point out that something I have noticed in literature, as in life, is that what is morally right is not always 100% certain. A conflict often arises out of a question of morality. It would be wrong to assume that all that people do in life is morally correct (if we were even able to define universally what is to be considered moral) and therefore if all of literature served the purpose of teaching the reader what is moral, it would not be an accurate representation of life. It fails at its mimetic attempt.
Let's Work Together
"Psychology helps us to talk about what the novelist knows; fiction helps us to know what the psychologist is talking about" (222).
I used to hate the idea of psychological approaches to literature, just because I had to read too many essays on whether or not Hamlet is mad or sane and whether or not he wanted to sleep with his mother my senior year in high school. But, with the way Paris explained the use of it in terms of understanding the human psyche made me want to give it another chance, especially since Paris emphasizes that the psychology and literature are meant to work together to enlighten the reader. He also recognized that a psychological approach to the characters and the implied author are not going to be useful in every piece of literature. Clearly Hamlet is a good subject for such a study, as would be "The Yellow Wallpaper." But, in terms of poetry it seems like in most cases this type of mimetic approach wouldn't be as useful as another type of criticism.
February 24, 2007
Art Shows Reality
"How does the poem, in conforming to a reality already known, give us knowledge? Or, if the reality is not already known, how can we be sure the poem does in fact conform to it?" (210).
Ah, just when I thought I finally found a literary theory that was perfect, Keesey has once again successfully pointed out a very reasonable hole in the argument. As much as I would love to say "nope, not a valid opposition" to all those anti-mimetic critics I have to say that these are good questions and I should have known that they were coming. Keesey's introductions thus far have not failed to explain both sides yet. So, of course, mimetic criticism shouldn't be any surprise.
The best answer I can come up with (at least for the first question anyway) is that perhaps it is just that art is the only way of "showing" knowledge rather than "telling" it. Art has a way of representing reality in a way nothing else can - highlighting it, bringing certain truths to the forefront of our minds that might otherwise go unnoticed. Like Chera Pupi said in one of her early blog entries this semester for EL150: Intro to Lit, sometimes we don't realize we know something until we are told. Maybe sometimes we don't realize something is real until we are shown, and literature can show us.
Something Else to Do
Chapter 6 - Books (As Opposed to Literature)
"'I spend most of my days talking to teachers and writers about the joys and challenges of the classroom'" (131).
At first I thought the idea of publishing textbooks would be more boring than publishing novels and other fictional forms of literature. But, I could definitely see myself someday doing something like this and even being good at it since I will have had my own personal experiences in teaching to draw on when it comes to meeting the needs of teachers and students with a good textbook.
"'There can be a lot of details to worry about - sometimes things the people in other industries can't believe we have to care about - so it helps to be someone who notices misplaced commas, wrong shades of red, and reverse photos'" (134).
Having some experience in publications already (as the layout editor of the Setonian as well as having been an editor for my high school yearbook) I know this to be incredibly true. I am so grateful for this book (and I suppose even more grateful that we are being required to read it) because while I do very much want to teach I have a hard time seeing myself teaching forever. Eventually I will need a change of scenery. But, I had no idea what I might want to do afterwards. I never really thought I would be good at or enjoy something like publishing, but then I never really knew much about it. So I get excited about the mention of certain skills that I feel I actually possess and would enjoy utilizing on a daily basis such as this attention for detail because it makes me feel that there will be “life after teaching” or perhaps instead of teaching if I have trouble find a teaching job. I like the idea of having a few options available to me.
Love may not be Necessary, but Caring is
Chapter 2 - Perchance to Teach
"...you don't have to love them [young people] to be a good teacher, though it would help the development of your patience, flexibility, and understanding. It may not even be necessary to like children, either in general or as individuals" (17).
I have to say I am slightly alarmed by this opinion. I do see where Lemire is coming from, especially when he clarifies in the next paragraph that "you need to love teaching more than you need to love your students." Truly, loving kids is not enough to make a person a good teacher, but at the same time I have a hard time seeing someone who openly dislikes young people being a very successful teacher. Yes, to be respected and to teach the students is much more important than being liked by the students. But, I know that I have a harder time respecting someone that I know doesn't even like me simply because I am a young person. Also, I know it is difficult to enjoy your work if you don't like the people you are working with no matter what your profession. So I can't imagine someone who doesn't like kids liking teaching. (Unless, of course, they taught adult students) Also, while this isn't the exact same thing, I do firmly believe that to be a good teacher you do need to care about people, especially your students. Studies have shown that the teachers that students feel have inspired them and made the greatest impact on them are the ones that showed that they really cared about the students and their futures.
In its broader sense, onomatopoeia means using words in such a way that they seem to exemplify what they denote, not just in terms of sound but also of such qualities as pacing, force, touch, movement, or duration as well" (221).
I have known what onomatopoeia means for years. It is one of those lit terms that you learn in school that actually sticks with you because it just sounds cool and because, of course, who doesn't want to know the name of words like "moo" and "squeak"? Anyway, just this year I keep learning more about them. I always thought onomatopoeia was just words to describe sounds. Then while doing research for a paper last semester I found out about the words actually resembling the sound they represent. Even after that I never thought about how they can represent actions and other things that appeal to the senses. Language is so cool. It fascinates me.
February 23, 2007
It's About Sound and Sense, Not Just Rhythm and Rhyme
"Even at the beginning and in the middle of each line, where you are not interested in rhyme, the sounds of your words should contribute to your poems meaning" (Dr. Jerz).
I think this is one of the best tips Dr. Jerz could have given me for my poetry writing. Again, I am not very experienced at writing poetry, but I would love to learn to improve my skills. I do think rhythm and rhyme come to mind instantly when we think of poetry. But poetry is so much more than that. We should be thinking about sounds of each word in general, not just words that might rhyme. Then of course, we need to think about how each word contributes to the meaning of the poem. We need to focus on sound and sense.
I Don't Think I'll Be Using This Ice-Breaker Anytime Soon
Reflections on Ice-breaking
- Ogden Nash
I had no idea this was an actual poem in form. My mom says this as a joke quite a lot. (No, she is not a drunk, she actually rarely consumes alcohol.) I also love how effective the title is. It really contributes to the poem's meaning, especially since I have heard the verse all my life, but never the title. It just cracked me up to know it was called that. I felt the same way about the title of "This is Just to Say" about the plums. I will have to think about that when I write my poetry.
"A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;"
I am so envious of those who can write effective poetry. Actually, I am envious of anyone who can write any kind of fiction worth reading. It is something I have little experience with in any academic setting and I've never had the time to really try my hand at it and labor over it on my own. It really frustrates me that I can sit down and pump out a decent paper on anything based in fact or analyzing a piece of writing in a few hours if I need to - in fact some of my best work is produced that way - but ask me to write a piece of fiction and I want to crawl into a corner and die.
How do they do it? How can someone like Joyce Kilmer come up with the idea to write about something as ordinary and everyday as a tree and do something as clever yet simple as to personify it in such a profound way? How? How? How? Is there any hope for people like me to some day write anything that worth reading? Sigh. Those of you who enjoy creative writing and have a gift for it please don't waste it because people like me are envious and it makes me sad when people don't utilize their talents to their greatest potential.
February 22, 2007
Practicing What He Preaches
"Through his metaphors, he risks saying it partially and obscurely, and risks not saying it at all. But the risk must be taken, for direct statement leads to abstraction and threatens to take us out of poetry altogether" (85).
Uh, does this seem contradictory to anyone else? Yet, it makes sense, too. Sometimes the only way to get something across is through metaphors and other comparisons which require some risk taking and faith in your reader to pick up the meaning. What I loved most about this essay was how Brooks uses tons of metaphors and similes to make his points through the essay, which only further emphasizes and proves his point.
To Sum it All Up
'A large dictionary will give us several possible meanings for the word. A historical dictionary will give us the range of meanings generally known to Blake's contemporaries. 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" (77).
If you were having trouble following Keesey, this one section summed up pretty much everything you need to know in a very general sense, about formalism. I liked how Keesey gave this example to show exactly what a formalist critic wouldn't do in their analysis of a work. That makes it easy for us to know what to avoid when writing on our own exercises.
Is it Necessary, or Simply Useful?
As with probably most of the students in this class, my experience with literary criticism was quite limited prior to entering this class. If I hadn't taken AP Literature my senior year in high school I probably wouldn't have had the faintest idea of what it is all about. Actually, lit crit seems to one of those things that is very difficult to explain - as Jerz always says, it something we do, and the only way to learn more about it about it is to do it more, and more, and more again. (Which explains the critical exercises every week, right?) But, how much weight should be placed on it's importance to literary study? Do we need to study lit crit in order to study literature? To appreciate it? Certainly not. It is a way to shed light on how we study literature so that we may be aware of our position and reactions to literature and our beliefs about it. It can bring a lot of useful things to the forefront of our study of literature, but it is not necessary in all aspects of literary study. If you plan on writing something for publication in a literary journal or plan on doing extensive literary research of some sort, literary criticism should be studied intensively - you want to know what you are up against and where you are coming from in your own work. But, for the everyday enjoyment and study of literature, knowledge of literary criticism is merely one avenue, one tool, to further ourselves intellectually.
February 21, 2007
A Reflection and a Bit of Advice
An entire year went by without me adding any entries to my blog before this semester started. Now blogging has once again pretty much taken over my life. At least this time I was prepared. Yet, even though I knew what was expected, I still look back at all of my entries and sometimes I am amazed thinking "Wow, that's pretty good" and other entires I look at and say, "Huh, that could have been better." But, you do what you can right? At least I was smart this semester and saved a link to every comment I made ina Word document so I didn't have to hunt for where I had commented. Going back to read them all made me notice that I had a lot of my best thoughts when I was commenting on other's blogs. So, thanks to everyone for helping me stimulate some interesting thoughts!
I am still struggling a bit with the blogs in this class because I am used to having that close-knit EL250 class rather than the large class we have this year. That makes commenting a little more time-consuming and also frustrating that when I post a comment on a peer's blog and no one answers my questions. Also the number of students that still say "I agree" on every comment drives me a little nuts, but I know that will evolve, especially now that the first portfolio is due and everyone will have a better idea of what they need to have for the next one. But, overall, I am very impressed with the way this class has gone so far. Just a word of encouragement to those who are quiter in class...speak up! I know you have good ideas and class is so enjoyable when everyone has something they want to contribute to discussion. I love hearing what everyone has to say because it really makes me think. So don't be afraid to share your thoughts in class. I can garentee you will enjoy class more. And the other students will benefit from your imput. So, go back to those great things we all learned in kindergarten and SHARE. Really, it makes a big difference.
Ok, now I know I'm going crazy
Ok, I know I am crazy. I definitely remember blogging on this entry about how articles like this one make me feel very proud to be a student at SHU. It makes me feel like I am part of something bigger than myself, and even bigger than this tiny university in Western, PA. I also love reading about peers, students that I actually KNOW personally because we are a small school. I know I wrote a whole lot more regarding how I visited Purdue over break and that it made me grateful that I can walk into the cafeteria and see 10 people that I know, rather than zero, as my friends who attend Purdue do if they do specifically plan to meet their friends in there.
Ok, seriously, where did that blog entry go? I swear I wrote it. I remember!!! Ok, Jerz...this is a sign that I am blogging too much...I either am dreaming that I am blogging when I am not, or I am just too tired to make sure my entries post correctly. Sigh, oh well.
I Swear I Blogged on This a Long Time Ago
I swear I am just about 100% sure I blogged on these first readings when we had them at the beginning of the semester, but maybe I am really losing my mind am hallucinating. So, here I go again (or maybe for the first time...I can't be sure, but the blog doesn't exist, so I must have done something wrong.)
"Your own interests, strengths, abilities, hobbies, and obsessions play an even greater role in determining where you will find - or make - a job" (6).
Lol, interestingly, I am listening to "Dreamer" as I write this entry. I think it is great that Lemire points out how essential our individual interests are in helping us find that dream job. I think sometimes people are so limited by what they don't know. There are so many interesting jobs out there that I know I have never even heard of, and I am sure the same is true of others. So, they think because they can't think of a job that fits into both their background as an English major as well as their other interests. But, this is a big part and you just have to be willing to really look around, talk to people, do some research, read this book. The sky is the limit. You would be surprised what you could be paid to do for a living.
February 20, 2007
Ugh, I am Tire of Trying to Come Up with Clever Titles
"William Dean Howells...like most readers, either failed to notice or neglected to report ' the connection between the insanity and the sex, or sexual role, of the victim'" (198).
Is Kolodny just referring to the readers at the time of the story's early publications, or to readers in general? I certainly think that, at least today, we have not failed to see a connection between the sanity of the woman and her role as a woman in a male-dominated society. In fact, I feel as if we now place almost too much emphasis on this connection and that causes critics like herself to go nuts and go on and on about how when doing reader-response theory we are only responding as if the reader were a male. While I think this is a somewhat valid concern - a text would easily be interpreted differently by people of opposite sexes. But, blaming those for ignoring the gender-role in the past really doesn't seem very productive to me.
February 19, 2007
How Different Things Can Come to Similar Conclusions and Mean Very Different Things
"Haegert explains this narrative strategy as an attempt to set up in the reader the expectation of a neat resolution to the "mystery," one that the narrative indefinitely witholds...the ambiguities never are resolved...even though the story's generic markers lead us to expect such resolution" (187).
Hmmm, this is an interesting point to me because it very much reminds me of McDonald's argument about The Tempest. It is the same concept of promising more and giving less. I just find it interesting how the two very different types of criticisms, about different texts, come to similar conclusions about how the texts get very different points across.
"Would the role offered by the text function properly if it were totally accepted? The sacrifice of the reader's own beliefs would mean the loss of the whole repertoire of historical norms and values, and this in turn would entail the loss of the tension which is a precondition for the processing and the comprehension that follows it" (146).
This idea reminds me of something we actually did a few weeks back in lit after reading Susan Glaspell's "Trifles." We were supposed to decide whether or not we felt that Mrs. Wright was justified in killing her husband. Even after debating, there was certainly no overall consensus. We discussed how much less effective the work would have been if we all had come to the same conclusions after reading it. In fact, what makes the play worth reading is the discussions we could have based on our disagreements afterwards (or at least I felt as such). This is exactly the point that Iser is trying to make in order to question the role of the implied reader as someone who has to agree to the terms of the author. But, while he disagrees that the reader must take on the same beliefs as the author, he agrees in the idea of tension between the implied reader and the author as a result of individual experiences. Interesting stuff.
Anyone Who Thinks Being an English Major is Easy Sholuld be Shot
"Most reader-response critics, though, continue to hold that they have very sound reasons for placing their focus where they do, and they are willing to argue that the nature of the poem, the nature of the readers, or both combined dictate where the critics' emphasis should be if they are going to do justice to the literary experience. They differ, as we have seen, in the placement of that emphasis" (138).
First of all, as Tiff said on her blog, I also thought reader-response theory would be fairly straightforward as I was already familiar with the basics of the theory. But, I had no idea how complicated it gets.
As if it isn't already complicated enough, one thing I began wondering as I read the above passage is if reader response critics, particularly the ones focusing on actual real reader's responses, only focus on the reaction to the text in isolation. For example, I know that my reactions to a text change often dramatically based on what I study in regards to the text. If I am giving certain info about the info or the time period that I didn't already know, I often react in a different way than I did initially. And perhaps this is an awkward mix of historical criticism with reader-response, but just from my personal experience it seems like this is something to consider. Keesey does address how each reading changes the reader's response, and I know this is certainly the case in my experience. So are the critics only concerned with the reaction of a reader in terms of closely studying the text, or does the reaction from a first-read have just as much validity? Or is that just one of the reasons that we have the “implied” reader vs. the “real” reader vs. the “ideal” reader etc, etc.?
Frustratingly as well as fascinatingly enough, we will never really have an answer. And people think that being an English major is easy...?
Silence: Good, Bad, or Both?
"In these opening two stanzas silence is proposed as superior to language, the art of the urn to the art of the poet, life on the urn to life on earth" (114).
I found this assessment interesting because this means that the speaker of the poem is practicing an art that is identified as inferior to the speakers own work. Yet, according to Kent later, "Silent inexpression is no asset but an inhuman deficiency" (115). This really does show how the third stanza is paradoxical to the earlier stanzas. I think Kent did a decent job of taking on the formalist critical approach without going overboard.
Lit Crit Blogging Portfolio
Watson, "Are Poems Historical Acts?"
Yachnin, "Shakespeare and the Idea of Obedience"
Austin, "Towards Resolving Keat's Grecian Urn Ode"
Keesey, Ch 2 Intro
Brooks, "Irony as a Principle of Structure"
Lit Term 3
McDonald, "Reading The Tempest"
Kent, "On the Third Stanza of Keats' 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'"
Keesey, Ch 3 Intro
Iser, 'Readers and the Concept of the Implied Reader"
O'Connell, "Narrative Collusion and Occulsion in Melville's 'Benito Cereno'"
Kolodny, "A Map for Rereading, Or, Gender and the Interpretation of Literary Texts"
Lit Term 4
Comment on Dena's Blog on Keesey's Intro
Comment on Diana's Blog on Eagleton
Comment on Karissa's Blog on Eagleton
Comment on Gina's Blog on Eliot
Comment on Diana's Blog on Keesey Ch 1
Comment on Val's Blog on Watson
I'm and English Major, Now What? (Intro & Ch 1)
"Freedom of Speech Redefined by Blogs"
"Bernice Bobs Her Hair"
Foster (C 1-3, 5)
"The Love Song of J. Afred Proofrock"
Foster (Ch12 and Interlude pg. 183)
"A Good Man is Hard to Find"
Foster (Ch 6-9, 11, 14)
Essential Literary Terms (1-31)
"The Machine Stops"
Essential Literary Terms (112-149)
Essential Literary Terms (68-97)
Essential Literary Terms (98-111, 150-166)
"To Build a Fire"
Essential Literary Terms (32-67)
Maggie's Blog on Foster Ch 19-20
Comment on Ellen's Blog on "...Prufrock"
Comment on Derek's Blog for Foster Ch 6-9, 11, 14
Comment on Matt's Blog on "The Machine Stops"
Comment on Maggie's Blog on Essential Literary Terms (98-111, 150-166)
Comment on Fish's Blog After Class Discussion on "Trifles"
Comment on Ellen's Blog on "A Good Man..."
Comment on Hallie's Blog on "The Machine Stops"
Comment on Jennifer's Blog on "Everyman"
"To Build a Fire"
A Bit of Reflection, A Bit of Advice
Meaningful because it is Meaningless?
"The verbal music is related to the oneiric and unreal atmosphere that attends and complicates the action of Shakespeare's late romantic forms; it promises much and delivers little, and I propose that it is just this dynamic that makes The Tempest uncommonly meaningful" (105).
So basically, The Tempest is so meaningful because it is so meaningless - even though it seems like it should be very meaningful...maybe? Ugh. This essay was incredibly interesting - although almost paradoxical. At first I struggled with what McDonald was getting at, especially since he seemed to pick the longest, least-used words in the English language to make his points. But, by the end the statement I quoted above did actually make some sense even though when I first read it I was wondering if McDonald only got his essay published because the readers didn't really understand what he was saying but thought it sounded good.
Again, I wish that I had read the whole play, but while I was watching it I did experience much of what McDonald refers to in terms of "promis[ing] much and deliver[ing] little." I hope to try to read the play in full over break and plan on revisiting this essay afterwards in hopes of better determining whether or not I agree with McDonald's claims.
February 18, 2007
Less is More
"Periphrasis (pleonasm): A rhetorical figure involving elevated language, redundancy, or circumlocution; alternatively, speaking or writing that is unintentionally and unnecessarily wordy and roundabout. When used intentionally, perophrasis provides emphasis or creates comic effect" (337).
Of course, the definition goes on to explain further, but I figured this was sufficient to get the idea across. I would have to say I think there are probably a lot of students who occasionally write this way (intentionally in the sense that they want to sound S'mart" but unintentionally in terms of the effect it actually has in writing) because they want to take up more space and have more words and they may also just want their writing to sound intelligent and impress their professors by using big words. But, as suggested here, that is usually not a good thing and it is unnecessary. Besides, it would probably end up backfiring because it makes the writer sound unauthentic. The writing sounds forced and unauthentic. I know that sometimes I do use way too many words to get my point across in my writing as well.
The Sun is a Highlighter
"...the woods opened suddenly onto a pasture...sloping down, teir and tier, to a broad orange stream where the reflection of the sun was set like a diamond" (32-33).
I read all of the stories for Flannery O'Connor over break, and one thing I noticed throughout her stories is that she often uses descriptions of the sun and the way the light hits parts of the earth. In "A Good Man is Hard to Find" there is the part where the grandmother is pointing out the interesting points of the scenery and part of that paragraph describes that "The trees were full of silver-white sunlight and the meanest of them sparkled" (3-4). I have been wondering what the significance of it might be but after reading Matthew's comments on Kayla's Blog and his own http://blogs.setonhill.edu/MatthewHenderson/2007/02/water_water_everywhere.html, I think I might have a good idea formulating.
In "A Good Man is Hard to Find" the sunlight is hitting the trees in a certain way. In "The River" the sunlight is mentioned in relation to the river. As Matthew points out, water is often symbolic of cleaning or rebirth...and obviously that has great significance in "The River" The trees in "A Good Man..." are also very significant because the whole family (except the grandmother0 gets shot after being taking out of sight behind the trees of the forest. So, the fact that the sunlight is mentioned in relation to things of significance in the stories gives us clues to O'Connor's methods of writing. The sun is almost like a highlighter...it shows us what to pay attention to in order to foreshadow what might be coming up next.
Don't Go Anywhere Without Your Imagination
"The trouble with him is that he was without imagination" (London).
From this sentence in the story I knew that he was not going to make it and I felt bad for him. In some stories the characters grow and change for the better which saves them...but this sentence was so matter of fact and his flaw is something fairly unchagable that you knew he was bound to die. Imagination is just not something you all the sudden possess while walking through the -75 degree, snow-covered Tukon trail. He began to be a little creative when he desperately tried to survive at the end of the story when trying to build a fire, but it was too late. That may contribute to why I didn't get really upset when he died...yes it was sad, but a part of me was just relieved that he wasn't going to suffer any more. This is similar to the other stories that we've been reading as I pointed out on Jenna's blog when she brought the theme of death to my attention.
February 17, 2007
Compromise is Not Always a Good Thing
"'She felt a heavy burden of guilt, but she would not let it engulf her resolve.' The word 'burden' is already a vehicle for the tenor, her guilt; it clashes with the second vehicle, "engulf." The image of being weighed down is confused by the conflicting image of being surrounded a swallowed up, drowned" (35).
This book will not only be beneficial in helping me enhance my critical and close reading skills, it will help me as a writer. I do this mixed metaphor thing all the time. I know I have already done it in papers this semester. I usually have a problem with sending conflicting images because I will not have a clear idea of what I want to accomplish, so I try to take two ideas and put them together. It is a form of compromise, which seems like it should be a good thing, right? But really it is just not the best way to get your meaning across to a reader. I'll have to remember this from now on when I write.
February 16, 2007
Identity is Easy - You Have to Do More for it to be Meaningful
"it is important to keep in mind that simply summing up themes of complex poems, plays, and novels cannot yield their full meaning" (155).
I think this is especially important now that we are moving from, as Jerz always emphasizes, what was good enough in high school to what is good enough in college and beyond in terms of literary study. Being able to identify themes in a work is almost just a slightly higher form of plot summary. When working with themes now, we really need to be able to look at other rhetorical strategies and techniques that an author uses to contribute to a theme in addition to the elements of the plot. Sounds like a lot more work doesn't it? Darn. But, at least it is a lot more interesting.
Don't Talk the Talk if You Can't Walk the Walk
Fellowship: I speak of no deserving, by this day.
For he that will say and nothing do
Is not worthy with good company to go;
Therefore show me the grief of your mind,
As to your friend most loving and kind (5).
I never noticed last time I read this how Fellowship's words foreshadow what it is that he needs in order to get into heaven long before it is actually mentioned in the play explicitly. By telling him that "for he that will say and nothing do / Is not worthy with good company to go" meaning that even if you are all talk about doing good things, if you never accomplish any good deeds that you can't get into heaven. Of course, is this context Fellowship actually means that he just "show" him his grief (interesting he does not say "tell"...Dr. Jerz would be proud) before Fellowship will agree to go with him on his journey.
YAY, Now We Not Only Know What They Are, We Have a Method for Finding Them
"Some signs of symbolic weight might be its repeated appearances, especially at key points in the narrative, such as the climax or the conclusion; its close connection with the fate of the protagonist; and its detailed description" (87).
Luckily, I am very familiar with most of the rhetorical strategies mentioned in this section thanks to my wonderful professors here at SHU, but I thought this passage was particularly useful. One thing I notice about symbolism is that someone learns about it or the idea of it is refreshed in their mind (and I am guilty as well) and then they go wild saying that every little thing in a work is a symbol for something and often it is stretching it - sometimes by a lot. So, I like how Hamilton gives us a few things to look for when trying ti identify something as a symbol. There are not very concrete guidelines for many things in Lit, but it is nice to have something to go off of.
February 13, 2007
Not Quite Convinced
Maybe I am just irritable at this late hour, but I really was annoyed with this essay. I did like how Austin addressed each widely accepted approach to looking at the last lines of the poem. It was very logically presented and it ia always more convincing to address the opposing views. Yet, I am still so unsure about each interpretation and what they are exactly and what they mean. "truth and beauty are the same (1) in life, (2) in Keat's dream world, (3) in some Platonic or Absolute reality, (4) in the world of the Urn, (5) in imaginative or artistic perception, and (6) in eternity" (48).
Where the heck did they get those options from? They were derived from the poem? But, how? The second to last sentence also really bugs me: Without wrenching the syntax, we can read the final lines as "'Beauty is truth, truth beauty' in eternity - that is all you know or need to know on earth of eternity'" (56). If that is how Keat's wanted us to read it, wouldn't he have written it that way?
That Happened BEFORE the play, not During it...does that matter?
"Gonzolo abandons Prospero and Miranda with 'some food,' some fresh water,' 'Rich garments, linens, stuffs, and necessaries,' and Prospero’s overprized books" (41).
I had a hard time following Yachnin while reading his essay, but whether that was because he was as confusing as he seemed to me or just because I was working in the Setonian office going crazy all day till 10:45 at night I am not sure. But, one thing I did think was weird is how much he seems to focus on events that happened prior to the actual start of the play. This act of sending Prospero and Miranda away with the things that enabled them to survive happened before we are even introduced to the characters and the only reason we know about it is because Prospero tells his daughter in the first act. So, we are really only relying on his testimony of what happens. And while I do feel that the historical approach is a valid one, I don't like the idea odfanalyzing things clearly not in the text, especially in a play (which is meant to be done, not merely read) when the events are only recapped for us by a single character in a speech. How reliable is that really?
Better Read than Performed
title="Shakespeare, The Tempest -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)" href="http://blogs.setonhill.edu/DennisJerz/EL312/018516.php">Shakespeare, The Tempest -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)
As Dena already mentioned on her blog, we watched the video that the library has last night in Maura. All I can say is that I wish I had had time to read the play instead. To modify a quote from The Wedding Planner (sad I know)...I think if Shakespeare were alive today, and he saw that production, he'd wish he was dead.
Despite the fact that Shakespeare wrote the plays to be performed, I have to say that I enjoy reading them much more than I enjoy watching them in most cases (although I did enjoy Much Ado About Nothing when I watched it senior year in high school). I think if I have time I will get a copy to read and refer to since we will be studying it all semester.
One thing I will say though, is that all those that think history is not important to the understanding of the text (perhaps not author biography, but history and cultural context in general)...well they have another think coming because I think if I tried to understand Shakespeare in today's context it really wouldn't make much sense.
February 12, 2007
Prior Knowledge Ruins Everything for those New Critics
"When a reader recognizes a novel to be such, or chooses it because it is such, he is certainly using evidence from outside the work as well as evidence within it. He is recognizing features in the novel he holds in his hands which resemble those in other novels he has read" (32).
Interestingly, this reminds me of Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent" as well as stuff I have been reading in Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor. Basically, nothing exists in a vacuum and Watson is pointing that out. He argues that really, trying to look solely at the text in isolation because we already have prior knowledge that affects our reading of a poem. Therefore, poems must, in fact, be historical acts.
February 11, 2007
Dialogue - Both Useful and Necessary
"Dialogue has several possible uses: to reveal character' motives, feelings, values, and relationships; to advance the plot; and to suggest tone" (132).
I think for this part of the book I most enjoyed the section on dialogue. Of course, I already knew what dialogue is, but I enjoyed seeing descriptions of how it can be used to do more than just tell you what someone is saying. I usually have a hard time picking out things from dialogue to use in a close reading, so I usually pick descriptions and other narrated passages, but after reading this section I think it will help me analyze the dialogue of characters in more effective ways.
The Narrator is the Machine!!!
"She replied that she could scarcely spare time for a visit" (1).
"She told him to continue" (7).
I selected these two very short lines because I found the summarized dialogue very interesting. Each time Vashti's words were just simply summarized instead of quoted directly shows how distant she is from her son and how little she cares about what he has to say because it is against the Machine and the accepted way of life. It really struck me because each time her dialogue was summarized it made me feel frustrated that we weren't getting her exact words when I thought I should have been. But, receiving the words as they were filtered through the narrator is like the words being filtered through the Machine in the story. Forster's use of indirect dialogue is incredibly effective.
February 6, 2007
Like Moby Dick, Yet Not
"Shiffman maintains that the reversal of conventional black-white symbolism in Moby Dick is applied also in Benito Cereno and is proof positive that white Cereno is an image of evil" (62).
I was so glad that Kaplan addressed this. At first I was worried that this wouldn't be brought up and it was definitely something I thought of while reading the story last week and I was curious for what kind of an explanation would be given on it. I thought it was interesting because sometimes it did seem as if Melville was trying to portray the white man as evil and the blacks as good, which did, of course, remind me of Moby Dick. Kaplan's point that this technique was used to further emphasize just how "black...may equal blacker" in this story does make sense to me, especially since I was trying to figure out why Melville would use the same contradiction between white and black as he did in Moby Dick. If he did I think that would have taken away from the effectiveness of it in his works, like he was overusing a technique. Also, remember that in Moby Dick, Melville spent an entire chapter dedicated to the whiteness of the whale, explaining how it really signified evil instead of good as usual. He wanted to be sure there was no confusion. This is not the case in "Benito Cereno" which I think further proves that his intention was not the same with the white-black symbolism.
February 5, 2007
The Study of Signs
While reading Hirsch’s essay “Objective Interpretation” I had to kick myself because I didn’t have my Beford Guide with me and he kept using the words “parole” and “langue.” I still understood the main points of the essay because he was fairly good at explaining his points, but it annoyed me to keep reading these words that I didn’t know. So when I looked them up, both referred me to the section on semiotics, which is the “study of signs, sign systems, and the way meaning is derived from them” (436). I thought this was really interesting because it even encompasses things such as facial expression and other body language. In terms of language though, parole, which is French for word, has to do with the relationship between the words that are around (before and after) each other in text and the meaning of a specific word in terms of the other words around it. Langue is more about the relationship with a system of language. For example, the word “blog” has the meaning it does for all of Jerz’s students because we all share a knowledge of that meaning in terms of the English language.
Hirsch, If You Don't Like it, Maybe You Should Just Leave
“The text is viewed as not representing a determinate meaning, but rather a system of meaning-potentials…” (19).
Hirsch really has something against the “meaning-potentials” that he refers to from this point on in his essay. He doesn’t like the idea that there isn’t one true, absolutely correct interpretation of a text. While I agree that there probably is at least one intended meaning by an author of any work, I think what makes any work worth studying is this potential for multiple meanings. I mean, otherwise, what would be the point of studying literature at all? And since there is no way to be absolutely sure of what the author may have intended, I think it makes sense to explore the other “meaning-potentials” and how they might be just as valuable to a reader. And if Hirsch is so intent on literature being objective, maybe he should try exploring a different field of study.
Pah, Why Should We Do Research? ;)
“This historical criticism dealt in facts and required “research,” like any solid academic discipline. It investigated the causes of things – something else that marked it as a legitimate field of study” (11).
While I am glad at the turn of the 20th century scholars began to take my field of study seriously in terms of academic merit (otherwise where would I be now?) this idea of trying to make the study of literature more objective concerns me. I think the fact that it is so open to interpretation the best thing about it. Unlike other academic disciplines it is impossible not to learn something new even after studying the same material over and over. It allows for more intellectual growth than the “solid” or “concrete” subjects because it is so abstract…it involves a completely different way of looking at things than math or science. To understand literary concepts is, in my obviously biased opinion, much more challenging and enlightening than anything I could try to understand in other subjects. It involves more of an understanding of yourself and others, which I think is one of the most difficult things a person could try to understand.
The Ending Drives Me as Crazy as the Woman in the Story is!
“Now why should that man have fainted? But, he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!” (538).
Like most of us, I have read this story before and while I was rereading it I kept thinking, “why can’t I remember what happens at the end of the story?” Of course, when I got to the end and read this last sentence I remembered why. Because I have no idea what happened after John fainted. Did she just finally lose it completely and then was later put in some sort of facility, but in her mind she is now in the wallpaper as the woman was? Or did she kill herself…and it is her ghost that still creeps? (a part of me thinks so because of the references to the rope just prior, plus the fact that I am not sure that all the wallpaper ripped off the wall would be reason for John to faint). I have no idea. It makes me think that perhaps Gilman wanted us to wonder, she specifically wanted us to be unsure and to have it drive us crazy like the woman in the story!
Don't Use Epigrams in Your Epitaph
What is an Epigram? A dwarfish whole,
Its body brevity, and wit its soul. (19)
How clever. What better way to explain epigram than through an example personifying the concept, which was written specifically to explain the meaning. I think this also helps me to understand and identify satire a little better as well, since epigrams often employ satire. It seems that before this satiric nature became popular, the epigram closely resembled what we now know as an epitaph. Or at the very least, they are certainly cousins? Also, interestingly, aphorisms are often used on epitaphs according to good old wikipedia. So, will be important that we can differentiate from the epigram and aphorisms, because I am not sure I would want someone making fun of me on my gravestone. ;)
I think this book will prove to be a very good reference. I'm glad because I was rather annoyed that I had to buy two lit term books, one for this class and one for lit crit. Now, I understand Dr. Jerz.
February 2, 2007
"He's everywhere, in every literary form you can think of. And he's never the same :every age and every writer reinvents Shakespeare" (38).
I love this chapter because I remember when I first really studied Shakespeare (freshmen year of high school...ah the good old days...sorry been a bit nostalgic lately since I turned 20 and am now feeling somewhat old). I remember reading Romeo and Juliette thinking what the heck is so great about this guy? What is the big gosh darn deal? But, then I was required to participate in the Shakespeare festival for my class and so I actually had to memorize and act out a scene from A MidSummer Night's Dream. Acting out the scene over and over makes it much more real an much easier to understand, and ever since then I have been hooked. When you really interact with the text you can't help but fall in love with his work and see exactly how much of a genius he was. I was a terrible actress and probably didn't do the play justice at all, but I had a blast. My senior year, I did a scene from Measure for Measure which was ten times better, too! That was even more fun because people I didn't even know were coming up to me, saying "That was a great job you did on that scene!" The beauty of it was that people aren't that familiar with that particular play and yet, we made our peers enjoy it. Only we only did part of it. I owe the rest to good old Billy. Ok sorry that whole entry was rather tangential, (I can hear Jay wispering "relevance!" in the back of my head now! Good thing he's not in this class! ;0) Anyway I am blaming it on my lack of sleep!