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February 5, 2007

Hirsch, If You Don't Like it, Maybe You Should Just Leave

Hirsch, ''Objective Interpretation'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

“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.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at February 5, 2007 9:59 PM


"And if Hirsch is so intent on literature being objective, maybe he should try exploring a different field of study."

Heh. I'm glad he didn't. He was the one who taught the "Critical Theory Since Plato" course that I took around 1990.

I was pretty clueless then, so I didn't have many opinions going into the class. I thought he gave a fair representation of multiple opinions, and he was very good at entering into the mindset of whomever we were studying and arguing from that person's perspective. (I took a different class, from someone else, on culture & criticism, and I thought that professor had more of an axe to grind... or maybe I just had more opinions going into that second class, so that it was easier for me to disagree with the prof.)

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 6, 2007 8:27 AM

Lorin, the title of your entry is great. I often wanted Hirsch to just get done with it, since not only was I confused during the reading, but also somewhat annoyed.

Like you said, most of the authors we are studying are dead or are not at our immediate disposal so we must make our own inferences about the work, therefore examining the meaning-potentials. If we don't look at them, what will we study? The author's history and past cannot reveal all...and shouldn't.

Posted by: Nessa at February 6, 2007 1:40 PM

I think you are right, Lorin...

I think that WE sometimes get so caught up with the past of the author that we forget that it doesn't matter. Yeah, I think it is nice to know where Poe went to school or how Melville got the idea for Moby Dick, but as Dr. Arnzen would most likely blurt out in a class like this... "RELEVANCE"

Posted by: Kevin "Kelo The Great" Hinton at February 6, 2007 5:19 PM

I think what makes any piece of literature worth studying is the potential for not only the author's intention but for the many possibilites of meanings. It seems that we all keep getting stuck in this dilemma of the author's past and whether or not it can help us interpret the story. I am sure that there is some relevance between the author and the story, but how you interpret the book is completely up to you and your own philosophical outlook on certain ideas.

Oh, great job!!
Keep it up =)

Posted by: Denamarie at February 7, 2007 10:52 PM

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