February 2009 Archives

The writer and his/her ideas

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"Not only are writers notorieously inclined to be reticent, evasive, or even deceptive when discussing the meaning of their works, but they are seldom in a position to know what they may have unconsciously intended, and in any case they must always talk about what they may have meant at some point in the past" (Keesey 9).

This quote really caught my attention. Obviously or I wouldn't have posted it here. Anyways, I think it is so interesting that we, as readers push authors so much for finding the meaning behind their works. How often do we enjoy a book or poem and start wondering about the author and what they ment by their work? Ok, I don't most of the time, especially when I read books. I also wonder how often writers, whether its a poet or a prose writer, really thinks about the true meaning behind their work. I would think some writers would get up one day and say hey, I should write a story about this, that sounds like fun idea, and they go off and write the story or poem.
I thinks its funny that we also pressure writers to talk about things they wrote in the past. How is a writer supposed to know what was influencing them or what they were thinking at the time they wrote a certain thing.

"Rayan has more recently claimed that the repetitions in the stanza charm the reader into forgetting the main argument of the ode"

Yes, I find it interesting that Keats chose so much repetition in the third stanza, but I disagree with this quote. First of all I kind of feel like Keats is trying to get a different point across in each stanza. In the third stanza he keeps repeating the word happy, I don't think this is to avoid the main point. I really think he is trying to capture the thoughts or feelings of the narrator, or the people/images that are on the urn.

Manifestations in the wallpaper

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I have read The Yellow Wallpaper so many times that I don't even bother to count anymore. This reading has continued to let me stick to my beliefs of this story. I truely believe that the woman in the story is really the woman in the wallpaper. She obviously feels trapped in many different ways. John won't let her visit family and friends. John's sister wants her to nap all the time. Nobody will let her write, even she isn't sure if she should be writting. It seems like she manifests herself into the wallpaper, her manifestation is shaking the bars of the paper to get out, the manifestation is running around in the garden, and any other place that the manifestation, woman in the paper is seen. The woman in the story obviously wants to be free and she sees herself at differnt times, sometimes she is trapped and trying to get out and at other times she is freely running around outside.

The form of a poem

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"The goal of their analyses is to get us back to the poem itself, to show how it differs from the paraphrase, to point out those formal elements that make it a peom" (Keesey 78).
"The formalist undertakes to show us not so much what the poem means" (Keesey 78"

I don't totally get formalism, but I think I understand what these two quotes are getting at and I think it's kind of interesting. Instead of looking at the true meaning of the poem, which we can't really ever do because for one thing we don't know what the poet was thinking when they wrote it. It seems like formalism focuses more on structure and things like that. I kind of like that there is a criticism that focuses on structure, not just the content, I think that sometimes there is a lot to say in structure. Recently in my American Lit class we read some Robert Frost poems. One of them is in some ways ment to be a slow read but you read it quickly, I never really realized that before until we talked about it in class. There is so much more to a poem than just the words.

Poetry = Simplicity?

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"There is no harm in thinking of Wordsworth's poem as simple and spontaneous unless these terms deny complexities that actually exist in the poem, and unless they justify as in reading the poem with only half our minds" ( Brooks 89)

I was thinking about this. I will admit that when I sit and read a poem I usually don't look for some kind of crazy or meaningful aspect. A lot of times I will read a poem, say that was nice and go off on my way, that probably makes me terrible but I'm more of a book reader not a poem reader. Anyways, to get to my point, I don't had to wonder if poetry really always has some kind of irony. I kind of felt like this is what Brooks was trying to say. Even in this quote he's saying, sure go ahead and think whatever poem you are reading is simple, but it's really not. I find it hard to believe that every single poet was always trying to go for irony.

Locked in a box

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"still pondering how unpleasent it is to be locked out; and I thought how it was worse perhaps to be locked in; and thinking of the safety and prosperity of the one sex and of the safety and prosperity of the one sex and of the proverty and insecurity of the other and of the effect of tradition and of the lack of tradition upon the mind of the writer" (Keesey 196)

I really liked this quote because it made me think. Obviously this is Virginia Woolf speaking of gender roles of her time and the experience she had, but I see it another way. I feel like this is also a quote that is telling us that says that readers can be stuck in their own ideas or views. Readers don't always look at the other side. For example people in my American Literature class tried to say that Fitzgerald was sexist, but many of those people never considered looking at what was going on at that time, they were thinking in the present terms. Also, as we learned in author intent, what the writer writes isn't always about what they feel or think.

Phenomenology

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I felt so confused when I saw this word. When I took Philosophy last semester we focused on Phenomenology, the study of development of human conscienceness and selfawareness as a preface to or a part of philosophy. Right away I knew this couldn't be the same thing we were talking about in class so I figured I should look into it.
Phenomenological criticism really isn't far from the philosophical study because that's were it came from. It is a form of literary criticism usually associated with the Geneva School. Critics try to anazlyze a literary work without any external references, experienceing the text passively, sympathetically, and meditatively to disconver the pattersn and relationships that make up the unique consciousness of its author. So there we have it. I'm sure no one was as confused as I was.

Prosaic

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I saw this term while reading, I guess it's not technically a literary term, but it was something I had to look up because I had no idea what it ment. If anyone needs to have a reference where I got the word, I found it in Eagleton, and here is the sentance I read it in.

"Indeed it is in the Romantic period that the descriptive term prosaic begins to aquire its negative sense of prosy, dull, uninspiring." (Eagleton 16)

And here is the definition


It is the characteristic of prose as distinquished from poetry.

I don't think this really explain anything but it was worth looking into. You never know when you will learn something interesting or valuable.

Literature isn't personal?

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"Literature was not a matter of felt experience, personal response, or imaginative uniqueness" (Eagleton 16)

I know that there isn't always person feelings involved in poetry but when it comes to prose I have always been told to write what you know. Yeah you might not always have a personal connections to whatever you are writing. I know that in the 18th century people did not always write, but I would think that when they did that they would have written from some kind of experience or wrote about what they knew. Yeah there was censorship but people were writing about their opinions or at least trying too. I also find it hard to belive that there was a lack of imagination. Look at Chaucer and Shakespeare and their work, I think that shows a lot of imagination right there.

Semiotics

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Well, I don't like big words, and I don't like when people use them to look smart and important. I think it's more important to use language that people are actually going to understand. So anyways, I was curious about semiotics since obviously I didn't know what it mean.

Semiotics: This was a term that was coined by Charles Sanders Peirce to refer to the study of signs, sign systems, and the way meaning is derived from them.

More fun facts: to a semiotician, a sign is not just simply a direct means of communication, such as a stop sign or a restaurant sign or language itself. Signs are apart of body language as well, such as crossing your arms, shaking hands, or waving at someone.

"Perspective is what might traditionally be called point of view, and can also be variously subdivided; the narrator may know more than the characters, less than them, or move on the same level outside the action or internally focalized, recounted by one character from a fixed position, from variable positions, or from several character-view-points. A form of external focalization' is possible, in which the narrator knows less than the characters do." (Eagleton 92)

This was probably one of the few clear points that I got last week. I couldn't believe that something I would read in my Lit crit class would help me understand something in my American Lit class. In my American Lit class we recently read The Great Gatsby. There was a good discussion going this exact quote. If you haven't read this book, Nick is the narrator of the story. Fitzgerald sets things up in a way that Nick only gives the reader only so much information. The reader can only make opinions or assumptions about Gatsby through Nick. If you read the book there is a lot that Nick doesn't say.
And as I was looking at the quote again, I realized that this quote can also apply to The Grapes of Wrath, the book we are currently reading in my American Lit class. Steinbeck sets up the story so that there are several different view points throughout, it's not ever just Tom Joad's perspective.
When I love when I actually get this stuff and can apply it to something else, some other class.

Novella

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Ok, so I will admit, I originally thought Benito Cereno was a short story, which is pretty silly because it's so long. The other day a friend of mine said something about Benito Cereno being a Novella so I had to check it out. I don't think I've even heard of that before, but anyways, here it is.

The Novella falls between the vovel and the short story in both length and complexity. A particular novella may be substantial enough to be published in a seperate volume, like a novel or included in a collection of works.

So if you ever wonder why your short story is so darn long, it's possibly a novella instead.

Innocent Thinking?

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"The narrator suggests that Delano should have been suspicious" (O'Connell 188)
According to part of this article the reader should see Delano as an innocent bystander. I guess the innocence thing makes a little sense. If he was totally fixated on helping this other captain and ship out, he wouldn't really notice the bad things that are going on because his mind was somewhere else. O'Connell continues this good point, "The narrator acknowledges that Delano gets it wrong but he tempts us with an easy explanation, one that still allows us to respond to Delano positvely, even though we know from the beginning that he is missing something crucial" (O'Connell 188). This makes sense. The reader would like Delano less if he obviously knew exactly was going on and chose to do nothing.

Ok, so I don't have a specifc agenda item, my main focus is on Captain Delano. I just don't understand his thinking. I did a little research and found that slaves were packed into ships, usually shackled up, mutanies did happen but often they weren't very successful. I don't understand why Captain Delano didn't seem to find it strange that there were slaves running around the ship freely. I also find it strange that he thought Benito Cereno was the one up to something. Well, I guess the first time I read this I agreed with Delano, I thought Cereno was up to something. But then again I was extremely confused, Melville seems to want his reader to remain in the dark until the end of the story. I realized the second time I read this that the signs are all there. The shaving incident is a good example. Cereno was scared to death Babo would kill him then and there easily enough if he said a word, thats why he was shaking so bad. As much as I understand this story a little better I don't get why Delano didn't get it until the last minute.

So, I just need to rant, I don't think anyone is actually reading this blog anyway. So this morning I posted some blogs for another class. I came back later and for some reason I couldn't even sign in. I went away in hopes it would be fine later and fortunately it was. Then I went to post my blog on the class item site and it just wouldn't let me put my blog there. For once I'm getting all of my blogs in this week, actually by Thursday I will have all of them up, obviously for the first portfolio. I haven't been blogging because I'm frustrated with my blog, first I was mad that no one was even looking at my blog or even commenting on it, thanks to Mara and Greta I found out this was because for some reason my blog doesn't want to let people blog on it. I wasn't commenting on other people's blogs because I was angry that people weren't commenting on my blog. Yeah, I know that's lame and I got over it, now I'm just behind in the reading, I can't comment (well now I can :) ) because I don't know what's going on. Dr. Jerz said I could get a whole new blog but I don't want to do that, I mean I've had this blog for a long time, since 2005, I can't just let it go and start it all over. So that's my rant, onto my blog, if anyone cares to read along, because for once I have something to say.

"Different meanings of the same text have emerged at differnt times, and indeed, the same text read a second time will have a differnt effect from that of its first reading." (Iser 142)

I love this statement because it is true. First of all sometimes you have to read a text (especially poems) repeatedly to understand them, once you understand them usually your initial opinion changes. I have read Benito Cereno before and I found it so confusing and hard to understand. Now that I read it again, some of it seemed to make more sense, I felt like I knew what to look for in the text. When I originally read this quote I automatically thought of my American Lit class, I think this is the second time I have read something for this class that applied to the other class. Some of the stuff I'm learning here is actually helping me in the other class, which I think is so weird. But anyways, in American Lit we just read The Great Gatsby. The first time I ever read it I hated it, and to be honest I couldn't get past certain points. Looking back I don't think I truely understood it before. This time around I found I actually liked the book. I knew what to expect and I found that I had a better understanding of Daisy, Nick, and Gatsby. Sometimes you really do need to read a text over again.

When I read this chapter I couldn't believe that instead of one specific rule of reader response there were 3 or 4. As everyone can see from my title, I think that these rules or whatever you want to call them seem to contradict each other. One critic would say that every reader is going to get something different from the text. One top of that most readers who read something again usually change their opinion about that work. Other critics had other things to say, some that bothered me, as you will see in the following quote.
"Actual readers, who may lack implied reader's master of the appropriate conventions and who may lack the important textual cues, will be more likely to minterpret the text and to produce readings" (Keesey 135)
Seriously tell me if I'm wrong but it seems like this is saying that some readers are too dumb to get the true meanings of the text, yet readers are supposed to each come up with their own opinon of the text. So which view of reader response is it? I don't think this is it.

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Mr. Turtle goes on an adventure

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Chapter 3 - turtle chapter - The Grapes of Wrath

Was it just me or did anyone else think of Tom Joad when they read about the turtle? When the turtle is crossing the street the first car swirves to miss him and runs into the ditch and then drives away. The driver is obviously afraid of hitting him. The trucker who gives Tom a ride seems to fear Tom (or was that just me?) He wants to swirve away from him, get him out of his truck as soon as he realizes that Tom just got out of prison.
The second driver intentionally tries to hit the turtle or even try to kill it. Before Tom goes to prison another main comes after him with a knife, endangering his life. Tom defends himself by using a shovel against the other man. The turtle tucks inside his shell to defend himself. Both of these things are an internal instinct, people reach within themselves to protect themselves.
Later the turtle is traped inside Tom's coat for what seems like quite a long time. Tom is stuck in prison for four years. Eventually the turtle and Tom regain their freedom. Maybe I am looking too far into this or I'm missing the point. Did anyone else notice this or see any other parallels?

So once again I'm using Aja's blog, because I really liked it. I thought of the turtle as Tom himself, but she makes a great point that the turtle represents the people, the tenants in this story.


Home again home again

Home is where the heart is

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"So high or low, near or far north or south, east or west, the places of poems and fiction really matter. It isn't just setting that hoary old English class topic. It's place and space and shape that bring us to ideas and psychology and history and dynamism." (Foster 174)

I think this is the first chapter in Foster's book that I sat up and said, "wow, he is right!". Geography is never just a place. Lets look at Muley Graves for example. When everyone gets kicked of the land, including his family he choses to stay. This is where his home is, this piece of land that he lives on has become a part of him and he isn't going to let some bank and the people the banks hire to make him leave. Many books that I have read have made this point. When I read this chapter I automatically thought of Gone with the Wind, sorry but I love that book and I couldn't help but think of Scarlet O'Hara. Tara, Scarlet's home is a huge part of who she is. She stays within Tara for most of the book even when danger is near because she has watched nearby homes destroyed and she isn't going to let some Yankee come in and take it all away from her. Scarlet's dad even speaks to her several times about how important home is. She should be proud of the place that she comes from.

After reading some of my fellow clasmate blogs I had trouble just picking one that I really liked and agreed with, because there were several. I'm using Aja's blog, just because I like her insite and I have liked her previous blogs even though I haven't commented on them, guess I should do that. But anyways, I would recommend reading her blog :)

Back to the class blog

"What the cave symbolizes will be determined to a larg extent by how the individual reader engages the text." (Foster 103)

This is such an interesting statement. I think in every English class I have ever read we, the class, has always been asked about the symbolizim in the text. In every single one of those classes we were supposed to know that one thing was supposed to mean a specific thing. It always ment that one thing, there were never any ifs ands or buts. Now Foster is saying that every single one of us is going to see symbolizim different in the book we are currently reading. So which one is it? Is everyone supposed to see the same thing, or are we supposed to see different things? Later Foster even says, "the great work allows for a considerable range of possible interpretations." (Foster 105). Obviously we, as readers are supposed to see the text differently. Just recently, in my literary criticism class, we learned that we don't always know the author's intent, so we can't say for sure if something really ment a specific thing.


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I can't really just pick one section to focus on. There are so many little things that make me think in this play.
In episode 1 the characters are acting like machines, they do things over and over without any kind of emotion. It's interesting that the young woman comes in and seems to want to get away from this. She doesn't know what she wants to do or who she wants to be but she doesn't want to be a machine, like the other people that she works with. I think life is like this, and I think that this is what Sophie Treadwell could been trying to show. A lot of people do the same thing day after day. They don't have a passion for what they do. But there are also people like the young woman who want to step out of the same old and be different but don't know how to do that.

I have also noticed repatition. The husband constantly says huh huh, which I don't really understand, Other characters do that as well, like the mother in the second episode, she repeats herself for awhile one one subject, like the potatoe and then the dishes, and then marriage, and then repeats herself a bunch of times on something else. I really don't quite understand Sophie Treadwell's reasoning behind this, I really think there is a reason for it though.

I have read this play several times now and I will admit that I am still confused by it. This fact made me think that machines, such as computers (at times) confuse people. Are we supposed to totally understand machines? This play seems to say that life is like a machine, and machines are confusing.

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There Can't Be Just One

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"There is only one Story," (Foster 32)

Foster says every story comes from one story and that every story we read makes us think of something else or someone else. I completely disagree with this. I read a lot of books and I don't think I have ever thought that one character from one book made me think of another character from another book, even from the same type of books. I don't even think that an author would want you be be thinking about another person's book while you are reading their book. At the most they would would you to be thinking about buying/reading more of their own books.

My other thought is, if this is supposed to be true, what is the one original story that every other story comes from? We might come up with ideas from another poem or story but what we will eventually produce is not the same thing as the thing we took the idea from.

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I never realized how much symblism is behind a meal. For once Foster might be right. Looking at Gatsby, the atmosphere noticeably changes when Tom leaves the dinner table for a phone call and Daisy leaves soon after (obviously chasing Tom away from the phone - ie from talking with his mistriss). There is an obvious sense of unease at the dinner table because the hosts have left and Nick is seated with somone he still doesn't know very well.
Learning about Tom's affair seems to add to the unease. I'm also wondering if there is always has to be symbolism behind the dinner table?


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Obedience and The Tempest

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"That many Renaissance texts constructed themselves as unable to speak authoritatively or powerfully about politics, and that by marking themselves as dumb, such texts were freed from censorship and thus able to represent political issues in a complex and candid ways." (Yachinn 37)


Many writers express their views in some way through their writing. They somehow write their opinion and get away with it. I think the above quote kind of helps to explain that. Under Mary's reign the protestants were treated cruely. When Elizabeth reigned the catholics were the ones who are treated badly. Shakespeare never really comes out to say whos side he is really one (although in past english classes I have been told that there is a possiblility that Shakespeare was a closet catholic - which could make sense considering that Elizabeth wasn't catholic).
Caliban in the obvious protestant/catholic. He is under someone else's rule, although he follows the rules he is still treated cruelly by Prospero (Mary or Elizabeth). To stay out of trouble Shakespeare never really says who this is really about. He continued to avoid trouble by having the play taking place on a magical island ruled by the former duke of milan. Shakespeare knew exactly what he was doing.

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Caliban and The Tempest

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I have never really liked this play or really ever understood it. I especially don't get Caliban. It seems like he finally has the chance to be free from Prospero and he puts himself right back into serventude with someone else, yeah they treat him better, but they keep calling him monster. Also is he part fish? I kind of had the impression that he looks like a man. I guess because he has never been free in any point of his life he doesn't know how to have conrol of his own life.

I honestly believe that this is a book you have to read a couple of times. I read this book a few years ago and I was so focused on useless little points, like how much I hated Tom. This time around I see Daisy in a whole new light.
I still find it interesting that Tom gets so upset over Daisy and Gatsby's affair. Earlier in the book Myrtle's sister even says that Daisy and Willson are the only things that are in the way of Tom and Myrtle getting together, yet when it seems like he (Tom) has more of an opportunity to be with Myrtle, he doesn't take it. I honestly believe that he never truely wanted to get together (marry) Myrtle, yeah she might be a nice fling on the side but she isn't beautiful, she wouldn't be a trophy wife like Daisy, and she isn't rich. I also think it's interesting that he goes on and on about Daisy loving him, but I don't think he ever says that he loves her, I honestly don't think he does.
On the Daisy side, it kind of makes sense that she stays with Tom even though she's in love with Gatsby. With Tom she is secure, his money is old money, it's an inheritance, where as Gatsby's money is kind of shady. Nice even says that when he talks to Chicago at the end of the book that something obviously went wrong, possibly loosing some money. I'm not saying what she did was right but her motives seem a little more clear now.

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