April 19, 2007

The Theories Lie in History

Let me start off by saying that since I read the Greenblatt essay first, this essay confused me completely. There were times when I was reading this article that I was able to pick up on the connections that Belsey was trying to draw, but most of the time it just seemed to me that she was bashing the other forms of literary criticism. This seems to go against everything that Greenblatt told us to believe. Greenblatt called for a connection between culture and other forms of criticism while Belsey puts them down. She states:

...the opening pages of Grammatology invite vulgar deconstructionists to take it that there is no such thing as meaning, and in consequence, since meaningless language is literally unthinkable, that words mean whatever you want them to mean.

Now Catherine, is it really necessary to call people names?

All her name calling aside, Belsey does make some very good points in my mind when it came to literary criticism. After giving a breakdown of how history and politics enter the playing field of literature she states:


Literature is not a knowledge. Literary criticism is a knowledge, produced in and reproducing an institution. Some of the most important and radical work of the last decade has been devoted to analysis of the institution of literary criticism, challenging its assumptions, exposing its ideological implications and relativising its claims to universality and timelessness.

I found this important because isn't this what we are studying now? For the whole semester we have been seeing the results of the decades of study of literature and the results that those studies have brought about. Each of the theories that we have studied have come about because of some period in history or some viewpoint by a particular author. I'm not sure that I agree with what Ms. Belsey is saying about these studies, but I do agree with her that there had to be a starting point for them and that starting point lies somewhere in history.

Belsey, ''Literature, History, Politics'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at April 19, 2007 11:39 AM | TrackBack
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