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April 30, 2007

Lit Crit's Usefulness in Pedagogy

We've spent the semester in literary criticism discussing the usefulness of each critical lens we've studied. Dr. Jerz always made sure to keep us focused on what was most important in our class discussions by repeatedly asking "Why don't you rephrase that question to say 'How is it useful...?'" As we are finally approaching the end of the semester I think it is appropriate that we turn to ask that very question about our study of literary theory itself. How is a knowledge of literary critical approaches going to be useful to us later as we begin our careers as English majors?

As a good portion of us plan on practicing some form of pedagogy of various levels from elementary to university, Tiff and I thought it would be especially helpful to see what everyone thought of the role literary criticism plays in our jobs as future educators.

We may not have known it when we were in school, I know I never noticed it, but the literary lens through which our teachers in school approached literature affected us more than you might think.

The two classes of high school juniors that I am working with this semester, as I mentioned during class last week, are currently reading Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The teacher devoted several days to dispensing all sorts of different pre-reading information to give the students background on the text, the author, the time-period, themes of the novel. He went into lessons about satire, the noble savage, and the use of the vernacular in the novel. While I think this is all very useful information I worry about the effects of giving them all that information before even letting them lay hands on the text itself. The teacher has a tendency to tell them exactly how they should view the literature before they have even read it. Then, they complete study guides for each chapter and talk about the answers in class. Those study guides, which are largely plot-based, are also the basis of the students' tests.

I think he feels a need to do this with them because the other teachers at the school seem to expect so little from the students. When you want them to think for themselves they give you a very formidable deer-in-the-headlights look that makes you panic when you are standing there in front of a class that expects you to tell them exactly what they need to know. And he is very good at drawing out of them good answers to questions when he feels strongly about something, but overall I think the expectations are lower than what the students are capable of meeting - and I will tell you right now that I not how I would run my own class.

One thing that I feel very strongly about since I began my post-secondary literary studies, is that high school teachers tend to teach the students all sorts of things that need to be un-taught when they get to college. It drives me crazy! Shouldn't we be teaching students skills they can build on when they get to college, not skills and habits they have to break in order to be successful in post-secondary education!?! So, one of my goals when I teach is not to teach my students things that they need to be un-taught later. That might mean expecting more out of my students than the average high school English teacher, but I think in the end it will benefit them greatly.

Sorry about that little detour, but the point of all that is to start by saying I would take an approach similar to the one Karissa mentioned in her contribution to the carnival, and that is to give the students the works going into it cold. Of course, I will choose novels and stories much more appropriate for their reading level (I think the English Patient would certainly be expecting too much ;0) but I want to see their reactions to a piece of literature without them being tainted by my influences and knowledge. Even if the first reaction is as simple as "I did/did not like the work" I can easily move to asking them why and then I can develop some specific questions to get them to focus on key parts of the work. I want to see what the students can do on their own and use that to build from there. I also want to try to ignite and foster a love of literature and writing as much as I can (obviously this will not be possible with every student, but it is a good goal to reach a few). I think the best way to do that is to make the students feel like what they know and think is valuable. So I guess that means I will initially take a reader-response sort of approach to introducing literature. But, like Karissa, I could never limit myself to one approach.

After getting their first reactions then I would want to get into things like author biography and cultural history to help shape the understanding of the work in a useful way. I would also probably want to ask the students in which ways parts of the work remind them of their own life or perhaps how they think it reflects the lives of people from the time period it was written in order to take a mimetic approach. Depending on my students I could even see myself dipping very slightly into an intertextual lens.

Now, as far formalism and postmodern/deconstruction-type criticisms, that would be going too far I think for high school students. It just wouldn't be useful to try to bring that into my teaching. And maybe an AP class would benefit from psycho-analytic ideas, (and they also might be able to handle the formalist ideas too) but I don't think I would want to get into that stuff with a regular class. I think they do need some guidance and information in order to be able to learn what to focus on when studying literature. And I will always emphasize the need to find textual evidence for all claims made about a work so that the students won't think the outside information is necessary to understand a work (they must just realize the potential for its usefulness, of course).

Overall, I want to emphasize the flexibility of the study of literature and show my students how endless the possibilities are for the written word so that they realize two very important things: A) that there is more to literature than the plot and B) they will never find any "right" answers in the back of a literature book, only endless possibilities. And these possibilities require exploration in order to determine which ones are probable.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 5:30 PM | Comments (1)

April 26, 2007

Greenblatt's "Culture"

Greenblatt, ''Culture'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

“Culture” By Stephen Greenblat

Greenblat begins his essay by quoting Edward B. Tylor, who defines culture as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” (437).

Greenblat wants to know why this is useful to literature students. His answer: Maybe it’s not. Why not? Well, take the word culture. Greenblatt points out that it is “impossibly vague and encompassing” (437). That means that just about anything can be attributed to it, anything can be related to it, it can be used to connect just about anything. The word “ideology” presents a very similar problem. These terms, because of their ambiguity, are rather meaningless. (This is particularly interesting to me after Karissa’s presentation on de Mann’s “Semilogy and Rhetoric” and the idea that there can be no universal signifier, yet the word culture seems to have limitless meanings, which therefore make it meaningless.)

In order to deal with the vagueness of the word “culture” we constantly have to use other words to make it more specific. Greenblatt gives examples such as “aristocratic culture” and “youth culture” but, as I thought about the validity of his statements, I realized that to truly narrow down out reference point when talking about culture, we really could go on forever trying to further qualify the term. For example, start with youth culture. Well, what kind of youth culture are we talking about? Let’s make it more specific:

American youth culture

Ok, but still, American is pretty big. We can be more specific than that:

American youth culture in the South

And yet even more specific:

Urban American youth culture in the South

And so on, and so on. All by its lonesome, the word “culture: means very little. Now, there is nothing wrong with this, even according to Greenblatt. But, he also points out that it is problematic when trying to provide “the backbone of an innovative critical practice” (437).

This leads Greenblatt to ask, not “why is culture useful to literature students?” but instead, “How can we get the concept of culture to do more work for us?”(437).

Greenblatt then introduces the ideas of constraint and mobility.

Constraint: This concept has to do, of course, with the limits on social behavior. Our societies have beliefs, practices, laws etc. that serve as a tool for conformity and they make up the cultural constraints Greenblatt is writing about.
We consider our limits in the United States to be, well, quite unlimited in comparison to many other countries. But, while we have many freedoms, they are never infinite! (Hmmmm, I think it might be safe for me to say “never” right there.)

So, if we have these constraints, these limits, then we must have consequences for going beyond these limits. Interestingly, the Greenblatt points out that the consequences we derive to punish the severe limit breakers – prison, execution, exile – are rarely as effective as the things we all encounter at one point or another for breaking cultural/social norms. He gives examples like condescending gestures, pity, contempt, sarcasm, silence.

There are also positive consequences for following within the boundaries of culture that make people stay within the constraints of a culture. Things like formal awards and prizes, to small, simple words of gratitude. It is very much about acceptance (just to throw in a bit of a psychological lens through which we can view things).

So how does all this work for us students of literature? Well, to begin, Greenblatt states that: “Western literature…has been one of the great institutions for the enforcement of cultural boundaries through praise and blame” (437). The obvious examples of this? Satire and panegyric.

Now, just to take a slight detour here, when I first read this part I had to think of Mark Twain and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because right now that is the novel I am helping to teach in the junior American literature classes at Greensburg Central Catholic. There has always been a lot of controversy around the novel with people claiming that it is racist, but the teacher and I have been stressing to the students about the satire and how the novel actually makes a comment against slavery and so it was challenging, and sometimes still does because of the touchy issue of race, those boundaries that Greenblatt is talking about.

Greenblatt goes on to say that the effectiveness of these works fades because the cultural boundaries change over time (although with the example of Huck Finn either it is not true, or perhaps more time needs to go by in order for it to be true). So, Greenblatt concludes that the “awareness of culture as a complex whole can help us recover” a “sense of the stakes that once gave readers pleasure and pain” by “leading us to reconstruct the boundaries upon whose existence the works were predicated” (437). To do this Greenblatt suggests we ask certain questions such as:

1. What kinds of behavior, what models of practice, does this work seem to enforce?
2. Why might readers at a particular time and place find this work compelling?
3. Are there differences between my values and the values implicit in the work I am reading?
4.Upon what social understanding does the work depend?
5. Whose freedom of thought or movement might be constrained implicitly or explicitly by this work?

6. What are the larger social structures with which these particular acts of praise or blame might be connected.

Greenblatt says that these questions are meant to “heighten our attention to features of the literary work that we might not have noticed” as well as to “connections among elements within the work” (438). He is sure to emphasize that although a cultural examination does require the use of resources outside the text that these resources do not replace the need for a close examination of the text itself.

One of the main things to note, as Tiffany and Vanessa and Dena did on their blogs. is that Greenblatt asserts that learning about the culture from which they came is a way to learn about the works as much as those works are a reference to help us learn about that cultural world from which they came, as an absorption of the boundaries and limits that once existed. So if the exploration of a culture leads to greater understanding of the work, than the exploration of the literature leads to a greater understanding of the culture. That is what a liberal education does for us (hence why American Literature is offered as a U.S. Cultures class to non-majors here at SHU).

As an example, Greenblatt references Shakespeare's As You Like It and talks about its commentary on manners and the ideas of proper "cultivation," both making fun of the customs of the day, as well as participating in it because " for even as his plays represent characters engaged in negotiating the boundaries of their culture, the plays also help to establish and maintain those boundaries" (439).

Jay uses a quotation from Greenblatt on his blog that emphasizes the usefulness of literature to affect culture:
"In any culture there is a general symbolic economy made up of the myriad signs that excite human desire, fear, and aggression. Through their ability to construct resonant stories, their command of effective imagery, and all above their sensitivity to the greatest collective creation of culture-- language-- literary artists are skilled at manipulating this economy" (Greenblatt 440).

One thing I noticed about Greenblatt's essay, is his ability to incorporate ideas that belong to other forms of literary criticism (which is significant since we talked about culture being all-encompassing, so it makes sense that the cultural criticism would be as well). So, on that note I would once again like to emphasize that Greenblatt seems to see literature as a signifier for culture (again getting back to that de Mann stuff!) and he sees it as intertextual as well when he states that "A culture is a particular network of negotiations for the exchange of material goods, ideas, and ...people" (439).

To close, I could like to point out this idea of mobility of culture and the role literature plays in it. The constraints mentioned earlier mean nothing without the implication of movement because of everything was still, we would not need boundaries. But, authors "take symbolic materials from one zone of the culture and move them to another, augmenting their emotional force, altering their significance, linking them with other materials taken from a different zone, changing their place in a larger social design" (440).

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2007

Some Rambling Discourse

Barker and Hulme, ''Nymphs and Reapers Heavily Vanish'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

"Essential to the historico-political critique which we are proposing here are analytic strategies made possible by the concept of discourse. Intertextual has usefully directed attention to the relationship between texts: discourse moves us towards a clarification of just what kinds of relationship are involved" (445).

So are Barker and Hume saying that intertextuality is not enough, that even through using it we can't just focus on the links between texts, but that we must categorize the links and use them to make arguments about those links? To an extent I see this as a combination, once again of type of literary criticism. I think of intertextuality as a type of historical criticism anyway, because to me any text that has literary value also has some sort of historical value and vice versa. This idea of discourse seems really important also in that it has a sort of inconclusiveness about it, like we are never able to close the discussion of any topic on literature, which of course, makes sense, because if there is nothing for us to talk about anymore then we are "intellectually dead" as Dr. Jerz put it.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 1:19 PM | Comments (3)

Oh no, not journalism again!

Dock, '''But One Expects That': Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper' and the Shifting Light of Scholarship'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

"Since her story seems designed to criticize common medical practices towards women and the mentally ill, Gilman may have anticipated an angry response from offended doctors and husbands and seen only what she expected to see when she read the letter" (479).

I was so outraged as I read this article. How could people be so careless in the way they reprint versions of the story? I had no idea how different the versions were. It really makes a huge difference. And when critics and biographers be so inaccurate in their information? Doesn't anyone have any pride in the work they do? Why can people be more honest? GRRRR! And since people often look at "The Yellow Wallpaper" as somewhat autobiographical for Gilman, why on earth would critics trust what she wrote and said in her own biography and what she said about her work's publication? Obviously she was losing it somewhat and she even seemed to know it.

Anyway, the above quotation reminded me of good old news writing, EL227 freshman year. What was that book we read? About statistics being misconstrued in the media, like when they talk about the number of rapes going up, but really there are just more rapes being reported, so it is actually a good thing. Gilman could have easily had an idea already preconceived in her mind, so she wrote to portray that idea regardless of how accurate it really was. People do this all the time, and I know I am just as guilty even though I can't see it...because I can't see it. I think everyone does, but they don't mean to, as Gilman didn't necessarily do it on purpose. But, we still must realize that we can't just take her word for everything. We have to investigate, as Dave points out using the quotation on his blog. "'The Yellow Wallpaper' indicates what happens when critics stop looking for evidence after they find 'facts' that validate their interpretations" (478). We can never stop asking questions in order to be accurate.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 1:53 AM | Comments (1)

April 22, 2007

Why Can't We Be Speaking Good English?

Card, Ender's Game Finish -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"The boys were outraged, complaining loudly in the slang that they usually avoided around the commander. What they doing to us? They be crazy, neh?" (192).

I noticed early on that the boys very rarely spoke proper English, especially when just causally speaking to each other, but I am wondering why Card made that choice. To me, their language is more than just slang, it is sometimes so awkward that it seems like it would take more effort for them to speak that way than to speak properly. And, these boys (and girls) are apparently some of the most brilliant young people from Earth, so why do they insist on speaking that way? Is is because they do have minimal training in language since their schooling consists of more math, science, and military strategy classes? Obviously, not all of them are American so they might be speaking English as a second language, which could be a factor. But, in general, it seems like they know how to speak with correct grammar, but choose not to. Why? Does anyone have any ideas? Is it some sort of rebellion, or does it make them seem tougher and more dangerous? Why would Card choose to have the boys speak in very obvious non-standard English? I know that is how most of us talk when in casual conversation, but I still don't think many of us say "They be crazy" even though we'd be likely to slur words together like "I'm gonna..." or "gimme." What do you think?

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 3:23 PM | Comments (3)

April 20, 2007

Not only Smart, But Wise

Card, Ender's Game Ch 1-6 -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"Thank you for this Peter. For dry eyes and silent weeping. You taught me how to hide anything I felt. More than ever, I need that now" (33).

This novel is already so engaging and we have only read about the first 50 pages. It interests me how Ender, a boy of only six, not only has the brains of a genius, the ability to be smarter than people ten times his age, but also to be wiser than a lot of those same people. That is what makes him different than a lot of the other boys I think. This statement above shows his wisdom because he sees how something has helped him, even though that something wasn't very pleasent. And yet, it worries me, because he is being so easily dehumanized in order to prepare him for war. And while I see the advantages of that...I think that the human factor is what you really need to win a war. Of course, maybe that isn't the case in a war against aliens?

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2007

YAY! Something I KNOW I Will Use

Keesey, Ch 7 (Introduction) -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

"In short, what social forces influence reading practices and what are the social consequences of these practices?" (413).

I am currently doing my secondary teaching practicum at Greenburg Central Catholic this semester and currently the juniors in American lit are reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin and like "Benito Cereno" people always have issues with the portrayal of racism and raise the questions like "Should we read the novel because it is racist?" Of course, this is something I and the teacher I am working with are discussing this in depth with the students. Huck Finn is still banned in a lot of schools and other places, but we stress to the students how Twain satirizes the institution of slavery and that he was a realist and a regionalist and so he is authentically portraying the culture and society he was writing about.

This was important for us to address with the students because of this issue Keesey addresses that is so close to the hearts of many "cultural critics" and I believe that as a teacher this is something I will need to consider and it is something that the school board that I work for will consider when it decides what should be part of the curriculum. So, in this way, I think as a teacher I will be asking the same questions that literary critics are asking and using it to apply to my teaching. Literary criticism really reaches further into our lives than I think we initially realized when we began this class. It will influence what and how I teach my students. And for anyone going into publishing, lit crit ideas will also influence the decisions made in that field as well.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 12:34 AM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2007

The Wall-Paper (Or Wall Paper, or Wallpaper or what it is) - it is MINE!

Feldstein, ''Reader, Text, and Ambiguous Referentiality in 'The Yellow Wallpaper''' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

"Critics generally agree that the narrator's condition deteriorates after she stops writing in her journal and becomes obsessed with the wall-paper. After the narrator substitues a fixation with the wall-paper for her previous interests, she becomes protective toward the paper and the fantasized double(s) who inhabit it, eventually going so far as to threaten that 'no person touches this paper but me, - not alive'" (403).

First of all, I thought one of the debates of literary critics was whether or not she did actually cease writing, or if she was ever writing at all and even if the narrator is in fact the protagonist in the story or perhaps instead Gilman herself? But, assuming that the woman is writing, and that she does in fact stop and perhaps the text transforms from her writing to just us being privy to her thoughts through whatever means, I think this is a very valid assertion and something that I didn't ever think to focus on before. She really does seem to become strangely possessive of the wallpaper, as if she is attempting to control it because she feel so out of control in every other way and she is stuck on bed rest all the time. I would probably do some really odd things too, (to me idleness really is the world's greatest evil...don't tell Hamlet!) and regardless of whether or not you think the woman is losing it because of the patriarchy that she is a victim of either directly or indirectly (and she is really losing it directly as a result of her "cure") I think this observation is an important one to make because it really shows how the wall-paper becomes a sign signifying her mental deterioration, or something like that. I don't know, but it sounds good.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)

Is This Really Lit Crit?

Miko, ''Tempest'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

"The basic point, as I take it anyhow, is that good and evil are built into most of us (perhaps all - I'm still holding out on Miranda), and most of us are capable of being better - especially being taught to be better" (381).

Throughout a good portion of this essay I was wondering, how is this applying the literary theory to the text? Miko seems to make a lot of assertions like the one above that to me seemed like he was making general statements about the nature of humanity that you really don't need The Tempest to make.

Of course, the ideas about the ambiguity of the ending and all the loose ends did make sense to me though. Although, I don't really see why everyone is so fascinated with the claim that it is meant to end ambiguously. In the EL 150 Intro class that I am in we have talked about a lot of what we have read this semester as being open-ended or ambiguous. And basically, what has been concluded (which I realize is very un-poststructural of us, I'm sorry) is that if everything was tied up nicely in a neat little package without any ambiguities then there really wouldn't be much for us to talk about. (Which I think we've talked about in lit crit, but I am not sure because I tend to get the two confused sometimes and often we talk about the same things in both). Now, I have read A LOT of different things this semester, and one thing I am finding at the end of a lot of what I read (more so in my young adult lit class that anywhere else) is that they just seem to end as if the author ran out of ideas or time and things are left very open-ended. Sometimes I feel like this is done well and even though there are questions I still feel satisfied when I am done. But, other times I feel unsatisfied like there should be more to the story and I think this is partially what makes the difference between a good and a bad piece of literature. When I used to play in band for about 10 years, my conductor always emphasized to us that we absolute had to nail the ending of each piece because that is what the audience would remember above all else. I feel the same way about literature. Ok that was a bit of a tangent but sometimes I just need to ramble to clear my head of all the clutter that builds up as a result of thinking about things a little too much sometimes.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2007

EL150 Blogging Portfolio 3 Checkpoint

Blogging Checkpoint -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

Coverage

King Lear Acts 1-2
King Lear Acts 3-5
"Shakespeare and the End of Feudalism"
"Shakespeare's King Lear"

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 1:50 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2007

Watch Out for Killer Plants!

Kennedy, "Shakespare's King Lear" -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"All the plants Cordelia lists are noxious, bitter tasting, or contain skin irritants (Dyer 215; Butler 403-5). The interesting textual note here, with concern to the Green Man, is the parasitic nature of the weeds" (61).

One thing I have noticed about Shakespeare's critics is that there is a certain interest in the vegetation so often mentioned in his different works. I remember reading one essay (probably not a peer reviewed one as I found it through good old Google) my senior year about Hamlet that was arguing that Ophelia is actually pregnant and one of the pieces of evidence had to do with the flowers that she gives to the other characters when she's really lost it and how one was used as a method of abortion in Shakespeare's time. I have read other essays that refer to the various plants mentioned and I find it intriguing that anyone even thinks to look that stuff up because I would have never thought about it. It also seems interesting that they are often mentioned in reference to people who seem to be really losing it mentally and that the plants seem to have a destructive nature to the human body (perhaps also signifying the destruction/deterioration of the mind?).

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 12:47 AM | Comments (4)

Sometimes You Just Need to Look at "Culture"

Zunder, "Shakespeare and the End of Feudalism..." -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"...the text aligns itself, and seeks to align its audience, in favour of the traditional notion of a limited monarchy, and against the developing notion of royal absolutism" (519).

I have to admit I was a bit worried at the beginning when Zunder was talking about Shakespeare referencing the solar eclipse of 1605. I was thinking, is this the best evidence that he can find to prove that there is a parallel "between the action of the play...and the current times in which Shakespeare and his fellwo Londoners were living" (513)? But, as I read further into the essay I was very convinced by the argument that Zunder makes. I thought he did a great job of pointing out the things that show how the different characters represent different changing ideals at the time in British history. What I found really cool, is that Shakespeare was able to make such a statement about the state of the monarchy from limited to absolute and the shift away from feudalism using a plot derived very much from something that happened in history.

This whole essay also reminded me of Stephen Greenblatt's essay "Culture" that I have read for my literary criticism class. It seems to me a perfect example of one of Greenblatt's main points in the essay about how the exploration of a culture leads to a greater understanding of the work and the exploration of the literature leads to a greater understanding of the culture. Zunder's essay does seem to be doing both. By reading Hallie's blog, I recognized that a fellow student saw this usefulness in discovering details about the cultural and historic background of the text that Greenblatt is promoting. I also noticed as I read, that I learned that we can come up with ideas about the culture and opinions of certain people (like Shakespeare) through this alignment "against the developing notion of royal absolutism." So, it really can work both ways.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 12:24 AM | Comments (1)

April 12, 2007

When did Cornwall Die?

Shakespeare, King Lear Acts 3-5 -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

Messenger:
Oh, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead,
Slain by his servent, going to put out
The other eye of Gloucester (183).

Ok, I am confused now. I don't remember him dying. I know he got hurt, but I didn't know he died. Is the messenger misinformed? Or did I miss something after Cornwall and Regan exited during that last scene of Act 3? And also, why would Goneril be somewhat happy about Cornwall's death? She says it is partially good news, but she feels bad that her sister is now a widow. Does she plan on trying to take the whole kingdom for herself? If I did miss something could someone point me to a passage that indicates Cornwall's death prior to this scene? I would greatly appreciate it! If I didn't miss anything, maybe I just need to keep reading.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 10:53 AM | Comments (2)

EL312 Blogging Portfolio 2

Portfolio II -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Coverage

Chapter 4 Intro
Everyman
The Uses of Psychology
Beyond the Net: Feminist Criticism as a Moral Criticism
Pictures in Poetry: Keats's Ode on a Grecian Urn
The Yellow Wallpaper, Gilbert and Gubar
Lit Term

Chapter 5 Intro
Pale Fire
The Critical Path
Structuralism and Literature
Shakespeare's The Tempest, Frye
Whodunnit? Or, Who Did What?
Lit Term

Blade Runner
The Uncanny
Lit Term

Chapter 6 Intro
Postmortem for a Postmodernist
Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences
The New Psychoanalysis and Literary Criticism
Lit Term

Depth

Blade Runner
The Uncanny

Interaction

Tiffany's Blog on Ch 4 Intro
Jay's Blog on Ch 4 Intro
David's Blog on The Uses of Psychology
Valerie's Blog on Beyond the Net
Karissa's Blog on Pictures in Poetry

Timeliness

The Uses of Psychology
The Yellow Wallpaper, Gilbert and Gubar

Discussions

The Uses of Psychology
Pale Fire
David' Blog on Frye

Xenoblogging

Blade Runner
Postmortem for a Postmodernist
Dena's Blog on Pictures in Poetry

Blog Carnival

Wildcard

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 12:43 AM | Comments (0)

Thank you Pop Culture for Archie Bunker!

de Man, ''Semilogy and Rhetoric'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

"asked by his wife whether he wants to have his blowling shoes laced over or under, Archie Bunker answers with a question: 'What's the difference?'...'What's the difference did not ask for difference but means instead 'I don't give a damn what the difference is' the same grammatical pattern engenders two meanins that are mutually exclusive: the literal meaning asks for a concept (difference) whose existence is denied by the figurative meaning" (368).

Three cheers for de Man for having an entire section that I think every one of us was able to understand! Hip hip hooray! Seriously, I should write de Man a letter and thank him for using pop culture, mass media literature to provide an example for what he was talking about it because that is probably the first thing I have understood since we began this deconstruction stuff.

Anyway, I had never really thought about this before and I think it is a brilliant point. Archie's question to his wife is not really a question at all. But, how can that be? It looks like a questions, sounds like a question, and uses one of the fundamental W question words (who, what, where, when, why) we all learn about in grade school. Grammatically, it is a question. But, as experienced readers, we know from the context that by using the grammatical elements of a question, he is really making a statement that reveals his attitude towards the subject. And the rhetorical question "What's the difference?" is arguably much more effective than the statement: "I don't give a damn what the difference is." So, as de Man shows us, the grammar and the rhetoric of this simple sentence are, as Karissa describes it, battling each other in a boxing ring. These words that would normally signify one thing, instead signify something completely different. We must decipher these meanings through the deconstruction of a text. I think, this proves how important context is in terms of understanding language. We shouldn't ever look at words, sentences, phrases and the like in isolation when deconstructing text for literary analysis. We would miss too many things that impact the meanings, which may already be conflicting in terms of grammar and rhetoric.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 12:25 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2007

The Storm's a comin'!

Shakespeare, King Lear Acts 1,2 -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"Cornwall: Shut up your doors, my lord. 'Tis a wild night.
My regan counsels well. Come out o' th' storm" (119).

I think that the fact that the second act ends with King Lear going out into a rough storm is significant. The climaxes of Shakespeare’s plays normally occur in the third act and so the idea of the storm just seems to really build up to that well. We just know something important and dramatic is going to happen soon. Shakespeare wouldn't create a storm for nothing.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 1:02 AM | Comments (1)

April 4, 2007

EL 150 Blog Portfolio II

Portfolio 2 -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

Coverage
Short Poetry Selection
Poems: Short but Effective
Essential Literary Terms, 198-225
Poetry is for the Ear
Lemire, Ch 2-7
Essential Literary Terms, 226-246
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, to 67
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, 68-131
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, 132-204
"The Life You Save May Be Your Own"
"A Stroke of Good Fortune"
''Flannery O'Connor's Misfit and the Mystery of Evil''
"A Late Encounter with the Enemy"
"Good Country People"
"The Displaced Person"

Depth
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, to 67
In Depth Discussion on Hallie's Blog
"The Displaced Person"
Shayla's Blog on "A Late Encounter with the Enemy"

Interaction
"A Late Encounter with the Enemy"
In Depth Discussion on Hallie's Blog
Chera's Blog on Short Poems
Maggie's Blog on Eats, Shoots, and Leaves
MacKenzie's Blog on "The Life You Save My Be Your Own"

Discussions

Chera's Blog on Short Poems
In Depth Discussion on Hallie's Blog
Jenna's Blog on "A Stroke of Good Fortune"

Timliness
Poems: Short but Effective
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, to 67
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, 132-204
In Depth Discussion on Hallie's Blog

Xenoblogging
Matt's Blog on "Poetry is for the Ear"
In Depth Discussion on Hallie's Blog
Kayla's Blog on "A Stroke of Good Fortune"
"A Late Encounter with the Enemy"
Comment on Jennifer's Blog on "A Late Encounter with the Enemy"

Wildcard
Big Class Blogging vs Little Classes

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

Ramdom Wildcard on Blogging Thoughts - Big Classes vs Little Classes

All I can say is I am so grateful for Easter Break coming up. This semester has been my roughest yet, and I am not sure I can do another like it. Things have just been crazy busy. It makes me feel bad because I feel like my blogging suffers as a result. I look back on first semester freshman year and I think, wow I thought I had it bad then? What was I thinking? Ah how I miss those good of days of only 16 credits. But, I believe we are never given more than we can handle. But, I do miss having the small, close-knit EL250 class from freshman year. I think it makes blogging more effective because we all know each other and I felt like I got more comments. You would think that having more people would cause you to have more people in this class, but in this bigger class there are more people's blogs to choose from, so even if each person commented on different people's blogs the most comments anyone could really get is three, which is actually a decent number, but it is hard to hold a conversation when everyone only has time to leave the minimum amount of comments and no one returns to continue conversations. Which reminds me, we used to get confirmation emails when people commented on our entries so we knew to check the blog. Sometimes that was annoying if I had a ton of emails, but in general that saved me the trouble of checking my blog to see no comments on it, and it made me want to answer those comments because I felt special that people were commenting on my blog. It just seems as if someone has a good entry, everyone wants to blog on that entry an it is easier for the other blogs to be neglected. Oh well. There are certainly positives to the bigger class, too. Like now we have a lot more English majors at SHU which I am super excited about! YAY! Go English! Ok, now I am rambling. I should get to work on other stuff.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 9:53 AM | Comments (0)

April 3, 2007

The Birth of a State

O'Connor, ''A Stroke of Good Fortune'' -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"'Do you know what great birthday this is?' he asked" (69).

I wondered when I read it the first time why on earth this whole part had to be in here, and then I began thinking that maybe the questions he asked her had some particular meaning. So, I wondered why he would ask a question regarding a birthday, especially when the answer isn't even for a person - it is for a state, Florida. But, if she is pregnant, this makes sense - eventually she will be giving birth, only to a person luckily, not a state. But, to me it was unexpected that the answer to his history question of the day was a state when I thought it would be a person. And I'm sure Ruby was really surprised when she realized she was pregnant. I don’t know, maybe that is stretching it a bit, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to out the idea out there.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

What a Creep!

O'Connor, ''The Life You Save May Be Your Own'' -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"Mr. Shiftlet felt that the rottenness of the world was about to engulf him. He raised his arm and let it fall again to his breast. 'Oh Lord!' he prayed. 'Break forth and wash the slime from this earth!'" (62).

Mr. Shitflet's words here baffle me because I don't understand how he could not consider himself a part of the "slime of the earth" after what he just did to Lucynell. It also baffled me that he would try to do something kind like pick up a hitchhiker, who could be a mass murder or a thief or an escaped convict, and yet he just left innocent Lucynell back in asleep in the diner. What a creep!

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

War of the Words

O'Connor, "The Displaced Person" -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"She began to imagine a war of words, to see the Polish words and the English words coming at each other, stalking forward, not sentences, just words, gabble gabble gabble, flung out high and shrill and stalking forward and then grappling with each other. She saw the Polish words, dirty and all-knowing and unreformed, flinging mud on the clean English words until everything was equally dirty. She saw them all piled up in a room, all the dead dirty words, theirs and hers too, piled up like the naked bodies in the newsreel" (216).

The imagery in this passage is just incredible. It is so vivid and loaded with meaning. Look at how long the sentences are. And yet they are broken up into smaller sections with all the commas. It is like O'Connor is piling them all together on top of each other just as the English and Polish words Mrs. Shortley is imagining are being piled together, just as she remembers the bodies from the newsreel. The syntax really contributes greatly to the meaning.

And the extended metaphor going on is great too, with the words of each language going to war with each other just because they can't understand each other and they are afraid of what they don't know and don't understand - this makes them threatening. This is very much what began the war that caused the Guizacs to be displaced. I find it really interesting too that O'Connor makes sure that Mrs. Shortley mentions that she sees "just words, not sentences" as if there is something missing because words are most effective in communicating meaning when they are placed together carefully in well-thought out complete sentences. But, when you are just shouting out words, especially in hatred, you are really only fueling the fire, you are not making an effort to put it out. Also, it makes me think that the words have less value than full sentences, less meaning, which is significant because they are representing the individual people that are being piled up as if they have less value than they are really worth. The Jews that were being persecuted are equated to single, low-value words, while those doing the persecuting think of themselves as equal with very meaningful and important full sentences.

Another thing that I found interesting in this passage is the part in which Mrs. Shortley mentions that the Polish words are dirty, and the English are clean, but that the mud is flung on the English words "until everything was equally dirty." This is the first time she seems to mention an equality between the two sides. Yet, they are equal in filth, equal in faults, equal in that we are all sinners. No matter how she tries to make herself seems as if she is better than the Polish immigrants, I think deep down she knows we are all just as vulnerable to sin, no matter where we come from or how we talk. Yet, she refuses to admit it; despite her name, she is certainly not short in pride. And that is her biggest flaw. Instead, she is short-sighted, unable to see the benefits of the situation past the threat that she assumes stands in front of her.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 9:32 AM | Comments (0)

April 1, 2007

It has never taken me two hours to write one blog entry before!

O'Connor, "Good Country People" -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"The doctors had told Mrs. Hopewell that with the best of care, Joy might see forty-five. She had a weak heart. Joy had made it plain that if it had not been for this condition, that she would be far from this red hills and good country people. She would be in a university lecturing to people who knew what she was talking about" (174).

She blames her leg and heart for wrongs in life,
If not for those she'd lecture all day long
At University. Complaints are rife
From Hulga's mouth; why will she not be strong?

Some say: if want you something bad enough
Then labor hard you must to make it be.
There's not a doubt; to get it will be tough,
But she's already got her PhD!

Posted by LorinSchumacher at 6:45 PM | Comments (1)