February 2009 Archives
The following is my list for each blog assigned this semester. I have never blogged before so the first four entries aren't published on my site. I've learned in this amount of time that blogging is an interesting but tedious way to connect with classmates. I still prefer face to face discussions and find I get more out of those than a blog.
· 2009.02.24: What's The Opposite Of Pathetic Fallacy?
· 2009.02.24: The Intimacy Of Reader Response
· 2009.02.24: That Delano Is A Shady Character
· 2009.02.24: Isn't It Ironic?
· 2009.02.24: Choices Create
· 2009.02.24: Write The Key To Your Subconscious
· 2009.02.16: Hamilton Fails To Provide Again
· 2009.02.16: So Little Time, So Few Lines
· 2009.02.16: Buy Me A Little Happy
· 2009.02.16: Chaos Mirrors Chaos
· 2009.02.16: Decode Literature
· 2009.02.10: Political Obedience
· 2009.02.10: Give Romeo a Run for his Money
· 2009.02.09: Repitition Is Always Key...Maybe
· 2009.02.09: Curtain Call
· 2009.02.09: Author's Intention...Haven't We Heard This Before?
· 2009.02.02: It's Okay To Be Angry...Unless Your A 19th Century Woman
· 2009.02.02: Forgotten Assonance
· 2009.02.02: Experience Your Text
· 2009.02.02: Through the Looking Lens
I went back to my old notes from my first American Lit class on "Benito Cereno" for Isn't It Ironic?
I tried Wikitionary and Dictionary.com to no avail to define the term "polypton." I finally found the definition here: http://quizlet.com/688995/violette-syntactical-schemes-flash-cards/
JR started this blog with my help. We both like "The Yellow Wallpaper" and women in literature. http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JamesLohr/2009/02/blogging_carnival_unusual_pers.html
Due to class discussion I remembered Derek did an entry on alliteration. I commented and should have linked him back to me but didn't think of it since I'm new to blogging and some of the concepts are still foreign to me.
Interestingly enough, here is my first reference to Kate Chopin.
I was in a class with Mara and was anticipating what she would have to say about "The Yellow Wallpaper" because she's good at writing psychological stories.
I wrote something similar in my blog and told Bethany.
This was a good back and forth conversation which led me to comment back to Mara and also to comment on her original entry.
I thought some good discussion in general was going on here.
This was interesting because Erica and Ellen disagreed with me on some of what I wrote and left great comments as to why.
All the above blogs have been on time unless there was a technical problem.
I was the first to comment.
I think the Blogging Carnival is the most interesting thing I have discovered in the world of blogging. I hope that this blog continues because it has great potential for discussion.
Exploring women's roles in literature, especially in the late nineteenth century is a passion of mine. Nina Baym, the editor for those monstrous volumes of American Literature that we all have, is quoted in Kolondy's article as saying, "women were expected to write specifically for their own sex and within the tradition of their woman's culture rather than within the Great Tradition (196)."
Charlotte Perkins-Gilman, Kate Chopin and Susan Glaspell are women who broke that idea. Chopin actually had a career as a writer and was well respected among her peers. Then she published "The Awakening" and was shunned. Her career was ruined because she dared to write a real story for real women.
I could go on about Kate Chopin's story for days. Has anyone else read it? What about Glaspell and Gilman? Did they suffer for their work the same as Chopin or in different ways?
I felt it appropriate to a good look at irony this week thanks to Captain Delano and I was exploring the many ways irony was listed in Hamilton. I forgot about a pathetic fallacy (type of personification that animates aspects of nature with human qualities or feelings) and there's almost a reverse of that in "Cereno." I wonder if animating human beings with the qualities found in nature and animals is a term in itself?
"I think it worth noting that there exists an intimate interaction between readers and writers in and through which each defines for the other what s/he is about."
Reader response is about a relationship between you and the author and it is often a very intimate one. You feel like you know what is going on inside the authors head, or you are at least formulating a belief of what they were thinking. Your images become theirs because you created them together. The author provided the words and you provided the act of creation in your mind. Ha, it's kind of like making a baby. Once you're through the act, you've created something that didn't exist before. Yes, the potential was always there, the parts (words) needed for creation were always there, but if you and the author don't get intimate it's all lost and waiting for someone to discover that potential creation.
"Readers' willingness to trust and agree with the narrator is their ultimate undoing."
I chose this quotation because I think it is applicable beyond "Benito Cereno" although "Cereno" is a story at the forefront of all other stories where we are betrayed by the narrator. No matter what story I pick up (as long as I get into it of course) I find myself falling in with the narrator. And good stories often have us smacking ourselves in the forehead saying, "Stupid! Why did you do that?" We care about the narrator (or the main character) because they have become someone to us. Usually on the first time reading of "Benito Cereno" people don't see what is coming and they buy into Delano being a kindly soul who is a bit daft. But just wait until the second reading! Every time Delano is around something shady is going on or being thought by him and you want to smack yourself for not realizing it the first time around.
"Sprawling at her lapped breasts, was her wide-awake fawn, stark naked, its black little body lifted...its hands like two paws, clambering upon her..."
This is a striking image and speaks volumes about Captain Delano's character. The use of "its," "paws," and "fawn" suggest his true view of African Americans. His supposed "good heart" views them as nothing more than animals. I could never imagine describing a mother and child as Delano did. Yet he uses animal comparisons throughout the story, especially comparisons to dogs. And isn't it ironic he chose the most loyal of domesticated pets to compare Babo to? Melville's story is a great example of a work dripping with irony.
"As such, the work is in no way a mere copy of the given world- it constructs a world of its own out of the material available to it. It is the way in which this world is constructed that brings about the perspective intended by the author."
Again, reader response is about what the reader brings to the text. As we read we begin to form the world we've fallen into. With every story and every poem a new place is created because no one can form the exact same idea because we are all unique. Yes, we can certainly agree on a common meaning, but inside our minds there's going to be differences, even if it is just a difference in the words we choose to use to describe what we've read.
"For in the imagery and characters of great works, in the green gardens and wintery wastelands, in the questing heroes and menacing villains, and in the archetypal patterns of their actions that form analogies to rites of spring and rites of passage, to cycles of death and rebirth, we recognize, usually at some subconscious level, the images and actions that haunt our dreams and that form the substance of our psychic lives."
I believe not only as readers, but as humans we have these images, symbols and ideas already in our subconscious. Writers provide the key (words) to unlocking what's buried inside our minds. Remember the first time you read Harry Potter (hopefully before the movie) and you formed an image of who Harry was to you? Or what Hogwarts looked like? And somehow you knew Dumbledore would die, just like Dr. Jerz said? I think all people have characters and places like the above stored in the depths of their subconscious and when we read a story versions of our own characters, places and ideas mesh with the author's words and a unique experience is created every time we read something. That's what I call reader response.
"Poetry must carry us beyond the abstract creed into the very matrix out of which, and from which our creeds are abstracted."
In my mind, I subbed the word creed for belief. I love what Brooks says above. In order to do poetry it has to be ambiguous and abstract, like our own thoughts. Poetry (and I'm not really including epics in this discussion) isn't like a story. You don't have the time to build a plot or create characters to carry your story. You have to get out a feeling and feelings are totally abstract. Don't you wish you could actually touch 'happy'? Or head to your favorite department store and grab a 'giddy' off the shelf? We rely on poetry to make us feel and often feel things we normally wouldn't or would never want to. Poetry has to be complete in its abstractness in order to be what a reader needs.
"The appearance of "happy" three times in a single line, the fifth, and in conjunction with the comparative ("More...more"), does affirm life on the urn as having a superior status..."
Personally I think the best piece we've worked with this semester has been Keats' "Ode." I actually enjoy seeing what people get out of this poem because it seems that every critic so far has gotten something similar, but they have used different methods or different stanzas. Here, we again get a critic saying that life is better on the Urn but this time we the reason is in the text, not because Keats had a sucky life (to put it in elementary terms). I've always enjoyed pulling meaning from a text so I am thinking I am more of a formalist so far. I think all the answers are in the text in the case of Keats' Urn and I think looking outside the text can strengthen an argument, but it isn't necessary.
"Only chaos truly mirrors chaos."
This quote was taken from Keesey's idea that poetry builds in a bit of a chaotic mess, has a mid point and then begins to sort itself out as it ends. Or at least that is his very basic idea. And I agree that most poetry is like this. It builds into a frenzy and as you descend you take meaning with you. But what is truly interesting about chaos mirroring chaos is that our minds are chaotic. How many people think linearly? I've been told numerous times that I tend to jump topics in social conversations. I get distracted by what's around me. I get distracted by listening to people because something they say often triggers some sort of prior knowledge or emotion. Sometimes poetry doesn't make the least bit of sense until something clicks, whether it is something you heard or something you finally saw after re-reading the piece for the umpteenth time.
"Some structuralist arguments would appear to assume that the critic identifies the 'appropriate' codes for deciphering the text and then applies them, so that the codes of text and the codes of the reader gradually converge into a unitary knowledge."
Eagleton goes on to say that this is surely too simple of a conception of what reading really is. Even if it is simple minded, it is a good concept of what goes on when we are reading literary criticisms. We are attempting to figure out the code the critic used and then apply it when we read the text that is being criticized. I think that is the point of trying on different "lenses" when we read. Once we figure out how the critic is reading the text, we can look at whether we agree or not.
"Political obedience is supported here by the conjoining of hierarchy with the uncertainty which undermines personal moral judgment."
Doesn't it seem like political obedience usually goes hand in hand with weakness. If people are unsure of themselves they are much easier to control. Prospero doesn't seem to have trouble controlling people, like when he manipulates Sebastian. And throughout history, strong leaders emerged because of their certainty that what they were doing was the right thing to do- superior personal moral judgment.
"Of two most rare affections!
Heavens rain grace,
On that which breeds between 'em!"
I chose this quotation simply because I liked the part when Prospero realizes Miranda and Ferdinand truly love each other. And he realizes that it is a rare love. I read something on the Tempest that said Miranda and Ferdinand proclaim affections that would rival Romeo and Juliet's proclamations. I agree and found their exchange very sweet.
"The tendency of words and phrases to repeat themselves is a case of stylistic reproduction that creates, as I have shown, an atmosphere in which control of meaning remains necessarily elusive. "
Occasionally McDonald says something worth quoting in his long winded and very boring criticism. I had read Angela's blog before choosing my quotation and couldn't help but laugh at her title. Every other sentence of McDonald's seems rather long and complex.
But I do agree with the above quotation. And I keep thinking of song lyrics as an example. When we listen to music we can begin singing the song or pieces of it the next time we hear it, but often we don't really know what the song means. Just because we can repeat it, and enjoy it doesn't make the meaning any clearer.
"When one exclaims "But Shakespeare can't have thought that," the curtain that drops upon the line of argument is a curtain that has good reason to be there."
I think the curtain above represents cutting yourself off from possible intentions of authors. The thing with Shakespeare that has been said time and again is that he's long gone. So it is up to us as readers to continue to explore every possible intention of his writing, and a lot of that exploration is based on texts in their historical context.
"The poem's real meaning, it follows, is always in the past, even if sometimes in the very near past, and the search for that meaning is a search for the author's original intention."
Isn't it interesting how what we are reading seems to tie together, not just within the week, but from week to week? This quote would have fit in nicely when we were discussing Eliot. And it ties in with what Hirsch was saying last week about the author's intended meaning.
And I do agree with the above quotation. Figuring out the author's original intention is a definite part of literary criticism. I know there is always a counterargument for every argument, but being backed by author intention is never a bad thing to have on your side.
"I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I'm sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition."
I love The Yellow Wallpaper and have always read it through a feminist "lens" if you will. The above quote for me shows how oppression is beginning to steal her sanity and yet she remains in that 19th century woman's mindset, and blames herself. I doubt she perceived herself as sensitive until her husband labeled her so, and as he labeled her sensitivity he put into her head it was from her "disorder."
"Thou still unravished bride of quietness, Thou foster child of silence and slow time."
"In the opening lines of John Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" the narrator uses assonance in apostrophizing the work of art."
Like many other classmates thought, literary terms were a bit scarce in this week's reading. I stumbled across a reference to Keats in Hamilton though and thought it was worth mentioning. Keats's "Ode" is chock full of literary devices and I had forgotten what assonance meant. He uses the short i sound to impress upon the reader a state of "wonder" at the condition the urn is in. I think assonance is a subtle and often forgotten way to make your writing better.
"For Fish, reading is not a matter of discovering what the text means, but a process of experiencing what it does to you."
How very opposite what Hirsch says about an incorrect and correct interpretation of text. Once again, I find Eagleton writing for a reader and this echoes his earlier sentiment on feeling what is or is not literature. It is impossible to separate your experiences when your attempting to interpret a piece of literature and Fish seems to realize that your own experiences are a true part of interpreting a text. One may never understand a text if they do not have the right life experience.
"Textual meaning is not a naked given like a physical object. The text is first of all a conventional representation like a musical score, and what the score represents may be construed correctly or incorrectly."
E.D. Hirsch (18)
I really find it hard to buy that literature or music can have correct or incorrect interpretations. The beauty of literature is how you read it, how you see that text and what it represents for you. Yes, there are popular ideas of what a text may mean but at the end of a piece your left with your thoughts and your thoughts unless. That's why it is so hard to buy into literary criticism because even through one "lens" multiple meanings can be found.