February 4, 2007

Reading between the lines - good or bad?

In the readings this week Keesey and others mentioned the intentional fallacy so much that I figured I would make it my word/phrase of the week. For those of you that don't know the intentional fallacy "refer[s] to the practice of basing interpretations on the expressed or implied intentions of authors" (218). This is oftentimes what is discussed in classes. We talk about what the author meant when he wrote this monologue or what a poet was implying when he or she decided to write a line of verse in the manner that he or she did. It is what helps to drive discussion or even to get it going, but for those of the formalistic point of view it is a terrible thing. I'm on the fence with this one. Sometimes I think that it is good to read between the lines other times I'm not so sure. I think that I tend to be reading too much into something, but then again sometimes you have to read into it or you will not get very far. I think that eventually I will have to choose or I'm going to fall off this fence.

Murfin and Ray, Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)ok

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at February 4, 2007 9:29 PM | TrackBack

Tiffany, keep an open mind. If you are familiar with a variety of critical modes, and you make an informed choice to investigate author intent, the result can be valuable and productive. If you use author intent to close off other avenues of inquiry, then you're shutting down the thought process too quickly.

There are ways to "read into" lines that don't involve author intent, and we've got many more ways to look at this term.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at February 4, 2007 9:43 PM

I mentioned in someone's blog (I can't remember which) about authorial intent being a spring board into other ways of looking at at text. I also mentioned that maybe you could have more than one criticism technique in an essay. Is this possible?

Posted by: Tiffany at February 8, 2007 12:07 AM
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