February 26, 2007

It's all about the visual

Tonight I decided to look up Concrete Poetry since Jay's lesson made such an impact on me as noticed by this entry. Our good ol' Bedford tells me that the other names for this type of poetry is also called pattern poetry or shaped verse. The best point to remember when reading concrete poetry is that the poem may not make sense without the pattern that it is being formed into. That is all part of it. Some of the authors of this are George Herbert and e.e. cummings.

I'm not going to attempt to do this for you right now, but I will work on some and post again later when I have something I deem worthy of placing on my blog for the world to see.

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

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Is it mimetic or is it authorial intent?

As I was reading along in this essay I couldn't help but wonder what type of criticism I was reading. The beginning of the essay seemed to be one giant introduction for the criticism on how Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper." The authors state:

As if to comment on the unity of all these points - on, that is, the anxiety-inducing connections between what women writers tend to see as their parallel confinements in texts, houses, and maternal female bodies - Charlotte Perkins Gilman brought them all together in 1890 in a striking story of female confinement and escape, a paradigmatic take which...seems to tell the story that all literary women would tell if they could speak their "speechless woe."

I think that this line pretty much sums up the whole essay. I'm not sure that I was able to follow their argument well or even where mimetic criticism fits in with this one. All I can think of is how much this resembles authorial intent. Can anyone help me out on this one?

Gilbert and Gubar, ''The Yellow Wallpaper'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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There's something concrete about this

As I finished reading this essay this evening I couldn't help but think about appropriate it was that I was reading this essay tonight. I know that Concrete Poetry is something different from Iconic Poetry but I like to think that they are extremely similar and today Jay taught his lesson in our Pre-Student Teaching Clinical Lab on Concrete Poetry. (I'm also thinking of another lesson taught by another student on proper keyboarding styles and how I'm really not following her instructions very well at the moment.) Just something I thought I would share with the class.

Now on to the article. This essay really had me thinking about how many similarities there are between Concrete Poetry and Iconic Poetry. The line that really had me thinking this was when Brann was discussing out poetry and art come together. She said, "Indeed, there is no purer way of insuring that poetry will be strictly picture-like than to make it speak about a picture." I couldn't help but think how true that statement is. When one writes a concrete poem he or she write it with a particular image in mind. The words and the image then come together to create one ultimate image. This is similar in iconic poetry because the poetry, while not exactly in the form of the piece of work it is describing, puts words to a picture that can otherwise be silent. I thought that this point was defended well through all of the different cases of iconic poetry and I thought that she defended the reality of the idea behind "poetry is like a picture" very well also.

As I study literature, I am amazed at how much everything seems to build upon each other and share aspects of each other as well. For instance, how mimesis has aspects of formalism illustrated in this essay by the discussion on the second to last line in the poem. This discussion also has a bit of authorial intent mixed in. It's all starting to make sense, but just a little bit.

Brann, ''Pictures in Poetry: Keats's 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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Religion for Women Steroetyping...

The most difficult part of this essay for me was figuring out how this essay fit in with mimetic criticism. Then it hit me. Josephine Donovan is talking about the truth (as she sees it) of the image of woman. I liked how she used movies to perfect her argument, however I was caught off guard by her Mary/Eve reference at first. I think that it must be because it is Lent and thinking about Mary at this time is an image I struggle with.

The passage in which Donovan talks about Mary and Eve is this:

Female stereotypes symbolize either the spiritual or the material, good or evil. Mary, the mother of Jesus, came through time to exemplify the ultimate in spiritual goodness, and Eve, the partner of Adam, the most sinister of evil physicality.

She then proceeds to break down the differences between the two. I guess that my major problem with this is that Eve seriously is misrepresented. Maybe it was the way that I was brought up, but I was brought up to believe that even though Eve was tempted into eating the apple, and then brought Adam to eating the apple God still loved them. On the other hand, Donovanís argument does make sense because females are often used as both types of characters. As redeemers and condemners, but at the same time men are used the same way by some authors.

I think that is where I fall into a trap oftentimes when Iím thinking about the different uses of the female image. I tend to think that even though females are used as both good and evil many times I find that the females are mostly naive and neither good nor evil. Iím probably way off base there, but alas those are my feelings and Iím sticking with them.


Donovan, ''Beyond the Net: Feminist Criticism as a Moral Criticism'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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February 25, 2007

Combinding the new with the old

I have just returned from seeing Seton Hill University's Production of Everyman. I have to say that I was impressed by the adaptation done by Dr. Terry Brino-Dean, associate professor of theater and director for the play. What made this adaptation so interesting. The play was really made into a musical. The music was by the Indigo Girls and fit very well considering the differences between the play and the music.

According to the program and very well know is the fact that the author of Everyman is unknown. It is a morality play from the 15th century. The play centers around Everyman and the fact that God is unpleased with his actions. God sends Death to Everyman to tell him to prepare to meet the Lord. Some of the central issues in the play are the issues of death, corruption, and abuse. The play still stands today because it reminds us that we must try to be the best that we can be and not let vice or sin bring us into disrepute. It reminds us that good deeds help to raise us up and they help us to become better people.

In adding the music by the Indigo girls I think that there was much added to the play. The music is uplifting where the words of the play, while uplifting towards the end, are meant to give the message that we must repent. The music also helps those today, especially the college crowd, to understand the nature of the 15th century words. They bring into reality what can still be seen in our world today.

Anonymous, ''Everyman'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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Inside the mind

The mind of a person is a very sacred place. In fantasy, mind reading is often a power that authors give to characters so that they can see inside the minds of other characters, but is only used occasionally due to the intrusion that people feel when mind reading is taking place. However, Paris is telling us that by getting inside the mind of the character we can learn much more than we ever did before. He believes that the character should create itself. He summarizes EM Forester about the problem realist authors face when creating their characters.

If his characters are truly alive they will have a motivational life of their own and will tend to subvert the main scheme of the book. If he keeps his characters subordinated to their aesthetic and thematic functions, however, they will be lifeless puppets and his book will be flawless in a different and more serious way.

The author must then find a way for all three of these story values to work together and that is often the most difficult part.

The psyche of the character is of great interest to Paris in this essay. The psychological realism that Paris is promoting is one that the realist authors attempt to create. When I read, this is what I hope to see. Oftentimes in the fantasy novels I read for pleasure the only way to understand a section of a novel or even a series is to get inside a character's mind and understand what he or she is thinking. This sometimes means that we need to get inside the mind of the antagonist of a story and get the evil plot that doesn't seem so evil to the character. It is important, I think, when reading a book of this nature to understand all aspects of the characters. I liked that in the essay that Paris brought up Wayne Booth's observations on deep views of the characters. He summarized Booth's concerns that

When we are immersed in the 'indomitable mental reality' of a character, we adopt his perspective and experience his feelings as though they were our own. This kind of experience...is acceptable to booth only when the character's perspective is, in his view, an ethically acceptable one.

I also liked that he disagreed with this idea. Not all books are written the "ethically acceptable" point of view. If we as readers shy away from novels that always give us a one sided look at life we are not being very real or truthful with ourselves which is really what mimetic criticism is all about. If realist authors only wrote about things that were acceptable then we would not be able to get all aspects of reality and then what would be the point of mimetic criticism. I used to live a life that was very one sided. I didn't want to give any work that I read a chance because it was outside of my norm, but, as Dr. Jerz said in class last week, we can't do that. We have to be able to look at different works and see that there is value in them even if we don't enjoy reading them.

The same goes for teaching works that may not be generally accepted or have even been black listed in the past. I thank my lucky stars that I had a teacher in high school that pushed us to read controversial novels. These novels give high school kids a look at reality or what reality could be. Through the discussion of these books, such as 1984 or Fahrenheit 451, the students are given the opportunity to see what people some fascist countries are living through and are given a reality that they may not be able to get at home.

Well, I apologize for my rant, but I really was taken by this essay. As I said before, I think that I'm really going to like mimetic criticism.

Paris, ''The Uses of Psychology'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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Reality is just a part of life

Let me just say that when I began reading about mimesis I didn't completely understand where it was coming from. I understood that Keesey was trying to get us to understand that mimetic critics were very focused on finding the reality of a poem and making sure that it represented the real world in every way, however then he went on about all the philosophers. Like Vanessa I was very confused as to why he was telling us about this and then I figured out that he was just trying to get us to realize that mimesis has been around since Plato's days. When Keesey explained the differences between formal critics and mimetic critics everything just seemed to click for me. He states:

The difference between [mimesis and formalism] is often a matter of emphasis. Mimetic critics are primarily concerned to measure the poem's congruence with reality ad to judge it on that basis, but they can neither entirely overlook nor, on mimetic grounds, adequately account for the formal features of the poem that set it apart from the world of experience and from other forms of discourse. Conversely, formal critics stress the uniqueness of poetic language and the inseparability of form and content, and their analyses are designed to explicate the poem's formal coherence...So for both the formal and the mimetic critic, despite their different starting points, coherence and congruence are always necessary, but seldom easily reconcilable, principles.

As I was reading the above quote I couldn't help but think to myself, "Finally, a form of criticism that admits it has features of another type of criticism." I also couldn't help but think that Valerie would be very excited to find that there is crossover in the forms of literature.

There is a lot to the mimetic approach I am discovering. One of the funniest defenses to the approach that I found in the introduction was that Plato put down the poem as being unreal and people are using him to support the approach. I'm not so sure that Plato is agreeing with this where ever his soul might be lingering. Plato believed that the poem gave people a false sense of the world. As Vanessa stated in her entry on this introduction, Plato uses the bed reference to explain as to why he believed that people could see a false reality through art. On the other hand, Aristotle comes along and says that poetry can reveal a better image of truth because it doesn't have to worry about the constraints of history.

I think that this approach to criticism may be making the most sense to me, next to reader response. The idea that the mimesis separates coherence and congruence makes sense to me. I like that it starts with finding the reality in poems and then tries to make it fit with what we think about in the real world today. I can see how this would work well for the psychologists that Keesey talks about because finding reality and truth is what they are all about. I think that it will be interesting to see how this approach is used in the following essays.

Keesey, Ch 4 (Introduction) -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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February 21, 2007

1/3 of the way to graduation

It is scary to think that as I type this blogging portfolio, I am a thrid of the way through my last semester as an undergraduate student. I have been on this crazy roller coaster of English and education classes for so long that it is hard to imagine me student teaching next fall. While somethings about myself will always stay the same it obvious that I have changed on some level. This portfolio is also a way for me to show how I am striving to get back into the swing of the blogging world after begin away from it for so long. Long story short, I hope that you enjoy perusing my writings and that you will stop back again soon!

*Note to the casual passerby: The rest of this entry is full of links to my entries found in this blog, however they are organized by topics that my professor wanted to see so please don't feel confused or scared by the long list of entries. They are still interesting. I promise!

The Coverage

Obey thy...leaders?
And the storm is blowing again!
Brushing up my irony skills
Oh the irony...
I've been doing it all along
Heading for eternity
Going against the general thread
Reading between the lines - good or bad?
The truth behind the mask...or story as the case may be
Author Withstanding - the piece may still be valuable
This is your life!
Falling slowly into depression
That's such a meiosis!
FORESHADOW!!!!!
Emotion needs to be held in check when it comes to poetry
Can we really define literature?
The beginnings of a critic

Depth

Obey thy...leaders?
Going against the general thread
This is your life!
FORESHADOW!!!!!
Emotion needs to be held in check when it comes to poetry

The blog carnival:

My entry: Merry Go Round of Obeying - Blog Carnival Topic
Host Entry (Thanks Karissa!): EL312: Step right up and take a chance on the Wheel 'o Litcrit!

Interaction

Going against the general thread
The truth behind the mask...or story as the case may be
Author Withstanding - the piece may still be valuable
Falling slowly into depression
Can we really define literature?

Discussions

Author Withstanding - the piece may still be valuable
This is your life!
Falling slowly into depression
Can we really define literature?

Timeliness

Obey thy...leaders?
And the storm is blowing again!
Oh the irony...
I've been doing it all along
Heading for eternity
Going against the general thread
The truth behind the mask...or story as the case may be
Author Withstanding - the piece may still be valuable
This is your life!
Falling slowly into depression
That's such a meiosis!
FORESHADOW!!!!!
Emotion needs to be held in check when it comes to poetry
Can we really define literature?
The beginnings of a critic

Xenoblogging

Comment Primo: This appears on Vanessa's blog.
Comment Grande: This appears on Karrisa's blog.
Link Gracious: This should appear on Kevin Hinton's blog somewhere, but now I can't find it. It was through his blog that my idea about Ariel from The Tempest began and what spawned my blog carnvial idea.

Wildcard

Is there any doubt that my wildcard will be the entry on Harry Potter would be my wildcard? I think not.

And that everyon concludes my blog portfolio. I know that it is large and overwhelming, but that is how I feel about it too. I hope that the crazy amounts of work do not scare you too much!
Portfolio I -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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Merry Go Round of Obeying - Blog Carnival Topic

The essay that had the biggest impact on me for this set of readings was Paul Yachnin's "Shakespeare and the Idea of Obedience: Gonzalo in The Tempest." In my original entry on this topic I mentioned that I couldn't believe I hadn't seen this before. Then I realized to myself that something was missing from this part of the essay. There are many reasons behind this, one of which is simply that after reading the blog entries on classmates I can't help but shake the feeling that Ariel's character is yet another character that is forced into the obeying circle.

Ok. I'm not sure who's blog I mentioned this on (I could have sworn it was Kevin Hinton, but now I can't find the blog entry for Yachnin on his blog), but it was the one that sparked my questioning on Ariel. I remember wondering to myself if others felt the same way and so proceeded to ask a few other what their thoughts were. While no one really responded to my question I have been pondering this since we talked about the essay in class. The reasoning behind this is that even though Ariel is trying to work towards his freedom that freedom depends on him obeying the every whim of Prospero.

Maybe I was just going out on a limb because I finally was able to understand an article, but in all reality it could be argued that this is true. For example, all throughout the play Ariel is carrying out Prospero's orders so that he is able to mastermind his plan from the comfort of his own home. It is exactly what Antonio did to Gonzalo. Antonio ordered Gonzalo to leave Prospero and Miranda adrift at sea so that Antonio could sit back on the throne and think about how amazing he is becuase he was able to kick his brother out of Milan and carry out his other plans. Also, by both Ariel and Gonzalo carrying out their orders the political makeup of their respective leaders was able to remain in tact. This goes along with Yachnin's argument that even though Gonzalo was committing treason against Prospero he was allowing the city to continue to exsist. Because Ariel obeys Prospero he is able to give Prospero the leverage Prospero needs to retake what was his effectively securing Ariel's own freedom.

Well, it is now time to get off this merry go round. I hope you all enjoyed the ride!

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February 19, 2007

The Woman's Perspective

Since the feminist movement there have been essays gallore about how the woman differs from the man. It is a fact that the world knew since the creation of the human race. However, the woman was not always on top. The respect has grown and all for the better in my opinion, but then again I am a woman. I knew that eventually we would come across an essay in Keesey where he would choose an author to give us the feminist reading of one of the works we are studying. While this is already known, the man reads differently than a woman. For example a woman may focus on the feelings the characters are giving off, while the male may focus on the situation in general. (Note to the men in our class: Please do not comment that that is not how you think and you are a male. I know that already it was just an example.)

I know that Vanessa already quoted this section, but I found it pretty interesting in the whole sceme of things. Kolodny says that "...[Gilman and Glaspell] do, nonetheless, insist that, however inadvertently, he is a different kind of reader and that, where women are concerned, he is often an inadequate reader" (201).

What do I find interesting in this quotation you ask? Well I find it very interesting that Kolodny felt that while Glaspell and Gilman were trying to teach the males that were reading their story something, they already had it in their heads that the men they were tyring to reach weren't going to get it. I know that these stories were written for a different time period, but I think that the men nowadays really do get it. At least from the discussions that have occured in class about Gilman's short story and from what I remember of Glaspell's short story as well. I'm not sure that Kolodny really thought that the men today could interpret the signs. I really strive to be open minded about things (although my openmindedness is usually the result of my naievness) and in that aspect I alwasy think that I miss the points behind feminist readings/writings. Anyone is welcome to help me out, but I'm not promising that I will understand.

Kolodny, '"A Map for Rereading: Or, Gender and the Interpretation of Literary Texts'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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Insert Mission Impossible music here

I knew that as I read "Benito Cereno" there was something fishy going on. I also could feel the foreshadow, as some of you may remember me say before, that was occuring in the short story. I never even imagined that what I was reading was a sneaky Mission Impossible type plot by Melville to lead us to ambiguity. In her essay, O'Connell states,

The narrator is a shadow figure in "Benito Cereno" who operates in the background, stirring the pot and adding murkiness that appears unnecessary to the plot (unless a crucial plot element is seen to be the creation of confusion, not just Delano, but in the reader as well).

As I read the above passage and the essay previous to this statement I couldn't help but here the Mission Impossible theme song playing in my mind as O'Connell described the subterfuge that the narrator provides the reader. Now, as I was reading "Benito Cereno" I couldn't help but be confused. The sentences where insanely long, there were a ton of commas, and the wording was thick and hard to cut through. All I could think of was, "Man I wish I was a better reader because I'm obviously not getting this." Now I'm being told that this is what Melville wanted from us all along? Darn you Melville, is what I'm thinking now.

O'Connell defends Melville when she says that it was just a device to make the reader feel what it must have been like to be Delano saying:

Instead, "Benito Cereno" structures and encourages misreadings so that the eventual discovery that one has been duped has the effect of revealing to the reader his or her complicity with Delano's most egregious and self-serving assumptions.

Point taken, Ms O'Connell. I feel duped, I feel stupid, but to my defense I did feel the foreshadowing!

O'Connell, ''Narrative Collusion and Occlusion in Melville's 'Benito Cereno''' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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February 18, 2007

From a Fantasy Fanatic

Ok. If you know me well you know that I am a huge fantasy fan, and if you didn't then the Harry Potter post should have tipped you off. What does this have to do with good ol' Bedford you may ask? Well apparently the glossary found fantasy fiction so important it devoted 5 full pages to the genre. In the description, the glossary goes into great detail about how CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien changed the direction of fantasy from children's and young adult literature into an adult genre that has a very large following in today's society. The description also mentions the difficulty in pinning down whether a piece of literature is fantasy because of the many crossovers between science fiction and horror that some authors take advantage of.

As a reader of fantasy novels, I find that when an author merges science fiction/fantasy they often lose track of the main story line, although some authors I have read were able to get it right. I could go on for pages about fantasy fiction, but will bore you no longer. I only leave you with one regret of mine. That regret would be that when I wrote my paper on "Magic in Tolkien's Middle Earth" for my senior exit paper in high school, I did not have this book to help me out.

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

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The reader is what is important!

Let me start off by saying that up to this point this essay is the one that I understand the best. The argument was focused and well planned. I was actually able to follow it. That said, let's get down to business.

In his essay, Iser explained the four different types of readers arguing why the first three (the supperreader, the informed reader, and the intended reader) were the wrong way to go and then explained why the implied reader (his theory) was the best. After hearing what he thinks of these three readers I was very interested in how he was going to introduce and argue his implied reader theory. The other theories, though he disliked them, seemed to me like they would work too, especially the informed reader. To me that is what I identified most with because that (in my opinion) is what we are being taught to be.

Iser states:

If, then, we are to try and understand the effects caused and the responses elicited by literary works, we must allow for the reader's presence without in any way predetermining his character or his historical situation. We may call him, for want of a better term, the implied reader.

This means that the reader, while reacting to the text, must remember that there is no historical background for the text or the reader and that it will be received as the reader will recieve it. This aspect of reader response just doesn't seem as if the reader is reacting. It seems to me that what the reader is doing is creating his own close readeing of the text without actually reacting to it which is what I thought reader response was all about. I think that this is another reason that I prefer the idea of the informed reader over the implied reader. At least with the informed reader, although the reader has to have many characteristics, there are at least guidelines that can be followed.

Another part to Iser's theory on the implied reader is the belief that the reader must play some part in the story. Whether that means the texts "ignore their possible recipient or actively exclude him," the reader must still play some part in the reading. It seems as if Iser is trying to say that the reader must dig and dig hard to find meaning from the text because the text is not going to help him even though that is what is being studied. I'm not sure that I would be able to work with the idea of the implied reader for that reason. I think that the reason I prefer the informed reader idea better is because here we are taught to be critical readers of texts and to think critically. In my mind these ideas fall into the category of the informed reader and I'm not sure if I can change that.

Iser, ''Readers and the Concept of the Implied Reader'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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I agree with [insert name of classmate]...

The introduction to this chapter really caught me off gaurd because I thought that reader-response was going to be really straight forward. What the reader says goes, right? Wrong! Apparently there is much more to it than I thought. However, one point did stand out to me. Keesey states, "If two or more readers should happento agree about an interpretation, this agreement could only arise because their 'identity themes' were so similar to begin with that they created very similar poems as they read" (136). All I could think about as I was reading this section was how many times during Major British Writers or American Literature I agreed with my classmates on their interpretations of a poem. Now, it wasn't always the same. Sometimes I saw something similar, but it was different nonetheless, but still for all the times I really did agree with someone else's interpretation I can't help but wonder if I was really working as a critic.

I know that these are the kinds of things that are supposed to be brought to our attention as we are reading, but I couldn't help second guessing myself. Another thought that keeps coming into my mind about reader-response is the difference between the reader and the "implied reader." I never knew that there could be two different types. Just before the quote from above is another quote that I wanted to mention. Keesey states, "Readers 'participate' in tehse to the extent that their own psychic imperatives allow, and to this extent the powm can 'work' for them" (136). I think that this is what people do when they read the poetry of their peers. Sometimes the poetry will work for them, other times it only works for the author, but then the author becomes a reader once the poem is written as well. I can't wait to read more about this because it seems like I may be able to understand this one.

Keesey, Ch 3 (Introduction) -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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Standing on it's own feet...or clauses as the case may be

In his essay "On the Third Stanza of Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn," David Kent states, "...the third stanza does not contain a single independent clause. Composed merely of phrases and subordinate clauses, it stands as a fragment, incomplete and dependent, though its dependence ironically proclaims a delusive independence" (115). This made me think of how a family depends on one another for support, but each member of the family is an individual that just seems to fit on in.

Kents essay is very short and to the point. He exhibits how to use formalism to quickly make your point and use the text of the work to help back it up nicely. The focal point of his essay was the third stanza and the grammatical things about it, but he also incorporates the aspects the other stanzas show how this essay all fits together and the third stanza becomes the focal point. The third stanza is like the middle child that feels he or she gets no respect and thus is seeing all of the good and the bad that is occuring on the urn. Because there are so many thoughts, they become fragmented and that is the way that they come out in the explaination. However, in seeing both sides of the urn - the good and the bad - the middle child is becoming indepentant of the other stanzas. It is the objective section of the poem that can tell both sides of the story truthfully and taking a stance of its own before the end.

I know that this is a stretch, and that I probably have it all wrong. I am just writing about what I see in my brother (the middle child). Being the oldest, I find that I have to forge the way for my brothers so that they can do it better than me, which is why I think that I may have this whole take wrong. However, it is my take and I would gladly like to start a discussion.

Kent, ''On the Third Stanza of Keats's 'Ode on a Grecian Urn''' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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Musical Poetry


For about 12 years of my life I thought that God intended me to be a music major, and then I took British Literature in high school and that changed everything. What does this have to do with the reading for today? Well I found that all of the musical training in the rhythm, repetition, and patterns has come back to haunt me in McDonald's essay. He states, "Although the structural and narrative replications are more likely to be the subject of critical interest than the aural, most listeners find themselves beguiled by the musical repetition of vowels and consonants, reduplication of words, echoing of metrical forms, and incantatory effect of this musical design" (102). All I could think of as I read this part of the essay was, "Why didn't I ever see that before?"


I always knew that Shakespeare's plays were looked at as a sort of poetry in performance form, however I never thought that Shakespeare could have been employing similar characteristics to his plays that master composers or muscians used when they played a piece of music. When you are playing a piece, for example Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, there are rhythmic patterns and reptitions that make the listener feel as if he or she is sitting on a sandy beach in the summer or playing in the leaves in the fall. What McDonald is arguing is that Shakespeare is using reptition to bring his audience into the play and show them the importance of a scene, much like Vivaldi would have repeated a section of music to emphasize to the listener the feel of the piece.

In his essay, McDonald uses several passages of Shakespeare's The Tempest to show how the text is very important for a true understanding of the play. It is McDonald's way of criticizing the work that Shakespeare completed. He attempts to show the reader that by looking at the text of the play instead of the cultural background, one can get more out of the play. I can honestly say that in all of the close readings I have done with this play I never even thought that the languaged used in the play had a musical quality. I knew that when I watched it on a video that the scenes were well acted and that the words made the watcher feel as if he or she was looking in on the characters through a window, but never that the words and their various repetitions or meterical workings fell so easily on my ears because of the way they were written. Nor did I think that my high school band days would come back to haunt me. Who knew?
McDonald, ''Reading The Tempest'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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February 12, 2007

Obey thy...leaders?

In Yachnin's (how do you say that anyway?) essay he claims that the purpose behind Shakespeare's character Gonzalo in "The Tempest" is to show how you must always obey those that control the government no matter what your political or religious views are. You may feel that you are doing the wrong thing, but in order to uphold the stability of government he basically says an order is an order. Yachnin states:

Once we realize that Gonzalo is guilty of complicity in Prospero's overthow, that he obeyed Alonso's command to cast Prospero and Miranda adrift, we will want to know why we should not view him as a mere time-server. From Prospero's viewpoint, Gonzalo's obiedience to his master (even though it has entailed Prospero's suffering and near-death) is praiseworthy because political obedience guarantees the stability of government.


This quote tells me that although Gonzalo may not have been Prospero's salvation he was still able to at least make it possible for Prospero to survive. Also, by following orders Gonzalo made it possible for the government to keep on trucking even though the rightful leader was not there any longer. By keeping the government going it provided Prospero with the opportunity to find a way back to Milan and reclaim what was his. The background information about this time period also helps to make the argument about obedience applicable to the play. I think that this argument could have been made using formalism, however I don't think that it would have been as effective. Once I understood why the essay began the way it did, I found that I was able to follow the argument a bit easier.

The way that Yachnin uses historical criticism in this essay is amazing. He showed that the people in this time period either listened to their leaders or something bad would probably have happened to them. He also demonstrates well how this can be easily seen in "The Tempest." When I first read this play, I never saw the political implications in the play until someone pointed them out to me in class. Now I'm seeing another political implication that I wouldn't have noticed without the essay. Who knows if the common people watching the play in Shakespeare's time would catch the sly implications that Shakespeare places in the play, but I would bet that someone in the upper classes would pick up on the undertone. I hope that I would have.

Yachnin, ''Shakespare and the Idea of Obedience: Gonzalo in The Tempest -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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And the storm is blowing again!

So the last time I thought about Shakespeare's "The Tempest" I was sitting in a class of all Shakespeare. I remember "The Tempest" being one of my favorite plays that we discussed because there were many fantasy elements in the play (ie the conjouring of spirits and the enchanting of the characters). Like Karissa and Vanessa I needed to do some brushing up, so after reading a quick summary and scanning the very same intro in The Norton, I mean Book of Sand, that Karissa wrote about I remembered what I liked most about this play.

In the introduction the editor wrote "'The Tempest' is unusual among Shakespeare's plays...the actions of "The Tempest" all take place in a single locale, the island, during the course of a single day." Why, one might ask, did I choose this particular quote? Well the simple answer is it is amusing to me that in the course of a single day Prospero is able to whip up and execute a plan to put himself back in power and marry off his daughter while being exiled on an island his enemies just happen to be passing after 12 years. If you think about all the the attempted murder that occurs in the play, the fact that all of a sudden Prospero is able to come out of exile, and the fact that his daughter is betrothed to get married it all seems very unreal. I think that is why I like it so much. I tend to live in the realm of fantasy way too often and this is the kind of story plot that I think a fantasy author could drool over.

The question is however, what was Shakepeare's intent when he wrote this play? Obviously we know from history that the play was performed in front of the King during his daughter's wedding ceremony, but does that mean that is why Shakespeare has Miranda getting married? What about the subplots in the play? Do they have some hidden meaning that we may not know about? I'll be interested to hear people's thoughts on this.

Shakespeare, The Tempest -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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February 11, 2007

Brushing up my irony skills

So after discovering that I must not know the true definition of irony I decided that that should be my definition of the week only to find that the definition confused me more than the original thoughts did. There was one interesting thing to note about irony however. It is related closely to meiosis which I looked up a few weeks ago. Another thing that the explaination in our books pointed out to me was that when the irony in a story, which is meant to let the reader or listener in on the secret (which is what I knew), goes unnoticed than it fails at making people realize more about a story. That made me think a little bit and wonder about what I am missing out on when it comes to irony. I know that irony is used a lot in fantasy novels to help drive the story along or to clue the reader in on something that is coming up that the character may not know about yet, but as Brooks was explaining his connections in the text I couldn't really follow what irony he was using. I think that Brooks may have been using what our book describes as structural irony because he was looking at the context of the poems. I can't be sure but that is what I think is happening here.


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

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Oh the irony...

We've talked about irony in literature classes before, but I have never thought to take it up as a paper topic so I never looked closely at it. I have discovered from reading this essay that I really didn't understand what it was to begin with. I know when irony is staring me in the face, but to actually have to look for it I'm not sure that I could find it. This is not a problem for Cleanth Brooks in his essay (appropriately titled) "Irony as a Principle of Structure." He says that "I have argued that irony, taken as the acknowledgment of the pressures of context, is to be found in poetry of every period and even in simple lyrical poetry. Bu in the poetry of our own time, this pressure reveals itself strikingly" (89).

While I can see how Brooks used formalist criticism in the first part of his argument about irony, the second part (the part about the irony in today's poetry) seems to be a bit stretched. I'm thinking that it seems that way because I don't really understand it to begin with. I like that Brooks uses poetry from several different authors to show how irony is a key element used by authors in general. He also carefully avoids using anything except the text to make his arguments. After reading this essay I can see how close readings or formalist readings are done professionally. The article was to the point and wasn't cluttered by what this person thought about this or that person thought about that. It was just about a person defending his argument that irony is a part of poetic structure and can be proved using context.

There was one thing that struck me as odd. The math reference on page 86 of his essay. I know that Karissa found it funny, but I found it just odd. I think that there would be a much better and less confusing way of trying to explain one's point. Then again math never has been my strongest subject and is the subject I dread teaching the most, but still I'm not so sure that the math reference needed to be in the essay. Thoughts?

Brooks, ''Irony as a Principle of Structure'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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I've been doing it all along

As I read the introduction to this chapter I couldn't help but think that this introduction was making much more sense than the previous one. I thought at first that it was because I was just getting used to the way that Keesey writes and the I come upon the following quote where Keesey says:

"They seem to claim no special expertise beyond well-developed powers of observation and a sharpened sense of waht to look for. And we can all play the game...And this may in part account for the popularity of formal analysis as a classroom technique at many levels of instruction" (78-9).
That is when it hit me. We have been studying formalism ever since we entered into the major field of English.

Every paper that we as Englsih students have completed has had some form of formalism attached to it. All of the close readings that we have had to do and write on were all a form of formalism. I decided after reading that that I felt pretty intelligent because I was writing as a professional would write I just didn't know that I was doing it. We have been taught by our professors to take pieces of works and apply a theory and then use the text to back up our theory. Occasionally we would need to use secondary sources to help back up our claims, but then the professional formalists sometimes do the same thing. I liked that Keesey made the point of saying that he couldn't believe there weren't more people out there doing the same thing. Neither can I for that matter. I think what happens here is that people don't realize that they are making assumptions that, with some help, could be published. Sure is something to think about.


Keesey, Ch 2 (Introduction) -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)A

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February 10, 2007

Heading for eternity

I can't help, but kick myself for writing my two page paper on "Ode on a Grecian Urn" last week before I read this article. I think that it would have helped me to understand it a bit more before I dove in and made a fool of myself. I found the arguments that Austin made very to the point. I liked the way he set up his article and found that there was a healthy mix of text and author background to make the article easy to understand (at least to me). He backs up his opinions with quotations from "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and other texts that Keats wrote in his time. The claim that the poem was an explaination of eternity was well defended by first describing all of the different view points and then by coming back and showing how each of them is a less vaild argument and why the idea that eternity is more valid than the other claims. Austin also uses Hirsch's essay well in defending his position that the poem has a general theme of eternity.

The quote that I think Austin uses best to demonstrate his defense comes after a long explaination of how the eternity interpretation can be proved through letters written by Keats and other works written by Keats. Austin states that, "This interpreataion fully meets the criterion of coherence...Although we cannot establish that Keats believed consistently in eternity, we can establish that he tentatively proposes the idea and that he undoubtedly hoped for the kind of eternity he imagines" (51). This quote ties together nicely what I was talking about in my blog on the Watson article. I think that it is important to have a healthy mix of author background and text to help one understand what is occuring in the poem. Austin's application of this approach helps me to realize more fully what I have been doing wrong and hopefully I will be able to improve upon it.

As I read this essay I couldn't help but note the personal events that occured to Keats (such as the loss of his brother, Keats's impending death, and letters discussing eternity) and how well Austin was able to integrate those into his desfensive articles to his claim. Everything fit together nicely. The best part about the essay I think was the end because everything was tied up and concluded in such a manner that I felt inclined to believe more strongly in the idea that eternity was what Keats was trying to get across in his poem. Good job Austin!


Austin, ''Toward Resolving Keats's Grecian Urn Ode -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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Going against the general thread

Let me start of this entry by saying that I started reading this for last week when clearly it is due for this week. Like Karissa, I chose to just keep on trucking instead of reading my syllabus. That said, I found the argument made by Watson very interesting. There are two quotes that I found interesting in this work. In these quotes I think that Watson makes an excellent argument for the continuing of historical criticism.

The first quote I found interest is:

"...the literary historian is bound to assume a correspondence of some kind between what the poet and his age might reasonably be though to have in mind, on the one hand, and the ture meaning of the poem on the other" (30).

I think that the reason I found this quote so interesting is because it is what I believe criticism should be all about. I like to see when a critic interacts with both the poet's biography and age and relates that back to the work. I think that I gain a better understanding of the poem when things are done this way. To hear what people in a certain time thought about religion helps me to understand why a poet was speaking for or against that form of religion. This also refers to everything that happens during a time period ie the politics, the people, the culture. By working with both the poet's background and the text I believe that a deeper meaning can be gained. I'm not saying that this helps all the time. I'm just saying that when you look at a passage without knowing the author background you may look at it one way while if you do have the author background you may see it in a different light.

The second quote that really stood out to me is:

"To evade in all circumstances the study of the author's intentions, in fact, is at times to evade the meaning of the poem itself" (32-3).

I think that this stood out to me because of the discussion that we had this past week in Advanced Literature. I'll refrain from using names, but someone mentioned that works need to stand on their own and once they are out of the hands of the author they are pretty much open to the interpretation of the public. Watson on the other hand says that there is something to knowing the intent of the author. I think that this quote also implies that sometimes the work doesn't need any help in the interpretation, but when he says that we can "evade the meaning of the poem" when we don't know about the time period an author is writing in or the circumstances surrounding the author's writing it becomes difficult to get the whole picture about an author.

I can't help but mention at this point that if historical background wasn't important why would we as literature majors study the background of each of the authors in British Literature and World literature. Why would we study different time periods and major events that were occuring during those time periods? If it wasn't important did we waste our time?

Watson, ''Are Poems Historical Acts?'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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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

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The truth behind the mask...or story as the case may be

In his essay "Herman Melville and the American Nation Sin: The Meaning of 'Benito Cereno,'" Kaplan trys to convince his readers that Melville's intention was to tell of the events that happened prior to the writing of the story. He states that "'Benito Cereno' was written at the mid-point of the hottest decade of the anti-slavery struggle prior to the Civil War, when to many the conflict seemed both irrepressible and impending" (59). He goes on to explain the different examples that may have helped Melville to write his story such as the writing of a mutiny by the real Captain Amasa Delano or even the stories of the slaves that were aboard the ships Amistad and Creole.

While I find this information interesting, I can't say that it seemed very criticle of the story that was being told. Once Kaplan gave the background information of the short story he then went into what I felt was a close reading at times and at other times a compare and contrast to other stories or events where Melville pulled information to write his story. I didn't find anything in the essay to suggest to me that he found the exact intent on why Melville chose the things he chose to write about. Sure the background information about the slave uprising and mutinies at sea were eye opening, but that may not be the reason that he wrote the short story.

To me it seemed as if Kaplan was still questioning Melville's intent at the end which is the very thing that he was attempting to prove in the first place. I know that there can be no simple answer to the why an author writes something unless the author has given a why in the first place. In the long run, all I can gather from reading this essay and the short story is that Melville was telling a story that had already been told by another author. Melville's writing has obviously made more of an impact that what Delano wrote, however the original idea was not his it was someone else's. I'm not taking anything away from Melville because I loved Moby Dick, but if his intent was just to tell this story in a different manner from the person that wrote it previously I can honestly say I'm not impressed.


Kaplan, ''Herman Melville and the American National Sin: The Meaning of 'Benito Cereno''' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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Author Withstanding - the piece may still be valuable

I found, like Vanessa and Karissa, that this text might have been a bit over my head. There were times in Hirsch's "Objective Interpretation" that I had to stop and reread sections trying desperately to understand. I found that I had to refer to dictionary.com and our Bedford text often in order to understand the passages that were presented in the essay. However, I did come to one conclusion opposite of what Hirsch believed. It's not all about the author all the time. Hirsch states:

It is therefore not only sound but necessary for the interpreter to inquire, "What in all probability did the author mean? Is the pattern of emphases I construe the author's pattern?" But it is both incorrect and futile to inquire, "What does the language of the text say?" That question can have no determinate answer.

This is one part of the essay that I can not agree with. I agree that asking the first of the questions about author intent is important, however what about that last question. The text is a huge help today for those of us studying literature because often the texts that we are studying have authors that have been dead for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years. We can study the time period of the author sure, but the language of the text is part of that time period. It is a part of the way something is being said that makes it so important.

When I first sat down to write this entry, I had every intention of writing it on what happens when the author is anonymous, but decided to read over Karissa's entry first because I noticed that she was confused at first too. Upon discovering that she had already written about the anonymous author I reread until I found the above quote. I didn't catch what it meant the first time around. Hirsch to me is saying that no matter what the text says, it is unimportant without the background of the author to back it up. I don't believe that is true.

We have done numerous close readings in our time here as English majors and have been taught that any good text can stand on its own for centuries without the stigma of a name attached to it. I believe that there is something to knowing who the author of the piece is and how the people lived during that time, but in the end the text already has a different meaning to us today than it did when it was first written. That is what makes pieces classics and able to withstand the days of time. The author's name for a piece may be forgotten, but we still study the piece. We study the piece and try to figure out what it would have meant for the people in the time that it was written, but we also study the piece as it affects us today.


Hirsch, ''Objective Interpretation'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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February 3, 2007

This is your life!

To me reading the introduction of the first chapter I felt as if Keesey was setting up that old game show where they said "[Name of Person], This is your life!" (Does anyone know what the name of that was?) In his efforts to explain the idea behind author intent, Keesey does make a good point of how often when someone is using this type of criticism they are trying to justify the author's life using the author's own work. He states that "critical procedures using the life to explain the work can easily get entagled with biographical procedures using the work to exaplin the life, and the result may be a vast tautology" (10). It seems to me like this could be the worst thing that happens to an author. I don't know that I would want a person using a story or a poem that I had written to justify the life that I am leading. As was said in class, if that is the way that people looked at things what would we have to say about Dr. Arnzen's writings?

The other day I was picking up books from our school library for a book sale that the Education Club is having and I saw a book in the new book section entitled The Narnian by Alan Jacobs. I don't usually read biographies, however I find that fantasy novels are not as entertaining right now (probably because that is all I read last summer and this past fall) so I checked out the book. I haven't started to read it yet, but now I'm a little bit nervous about what I'm going to find in the book after reading the introduction to this chapter. CS Lewis, the author the book is based on as well as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, is one of my favorite authors. I am interested to see what was occuring at the time of his life when he wrote the novels that are a part of his popular children's literature. On the other hand, if what Keesey said is true, I do not want to feel as if the work is being exploited to explain away some weird tendancy that Lewis had.

As we began talking about author intent at the end of last weeks class, I couldn't help but think that to have a whole class devoted to just what the author was considering when he or she wrote something frightened me a bit. I do agree that to understand a work more completely a bit of background on the author is necessary, for instance the fact that Charlotte Perkins Gilman gave her narrator the same disability that she briefly had, helps in the understanding of a work, but that should not be all it is. Because we live in the age that we live in there is so much information out there that can help us to understand something that an author is talking about I think that we almost change the story in a way. The information helps us to see something in the story now that the author had no clue would be of such importance. I will be interested to read the pieces that Keesey has chosen for us to read with this type of a background.


Keesey, Ch 1 (Introduction) -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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Falling slowly into depression

Having read "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman on at least two previous occasions here at SHU I thought that I might have covered everything that I ever thought I wanted to talk about. However, after doing some growing of my own and seeing the commercials on TV I think that I might have found something a bit more that I can talk about. What is that you might ask? Depression.

The narrator says on page 534 of our book, "I don't know why I should write this. I don't want to. I don't feel able... Half the time now I am awfully lazy, and lie down ever so much." This is just one of the many quotes in the story that make me feel that she is slipping into a depressive state that is helped along by her husband John. By deeming her disease as nothing but "temporary nervous depression" (531) he isn't giving her the help that she needs to break out of the depression.

I know that Gilman experianced similar feelings that the narrator in the story feels. She was at one point herself diagnosed with a nervous depression and also was suppressed from writing by her husband, however the difference is that she was able to break out of the cycle and the narrator was not. Today we know so much about depression that it is possible for a person to overcome it with the right amount of treatment. I don't think that doctors today would agree that the narrator needed to be left to rest and not complete anything proactive. Actually, I think that her inactiveness with her child and with her general surroundings is what helps to lead her further into a depressive state and what finally lends her to going completely insane to the point that she doesn't even recognize her husband any longer.

The other thing that bothers me about the story is that her husband is never present and when he is he doesn't seem to take an interest in anything that she has to say. It is said that you must work together with the people treating you to help you to become better and I just don't feel that her husband was working with her at all. Something to think about for sure.


Gilman, ''The Yellow Wallpaper'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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February 1, 2007

Release Date for HP7 - *SQUEAL*

Ok. First if you don't know what HP7 stands for it is Harry Potter 7 or rather Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Second THE RELEASE DATE HAS BEEN SET FOR JULY 21, 2007! WHOO HOO!

*Jumps up and does the happy dance*

Ok. Now that I have finished doing the happy dance and making a fool of myself let me get reasonable. I have followed the series for so long that I'm not sure what my feelings are about this. My first reaction was as seen above, my second reaction (that followed closely behind it) was the realization that I'm going to be at camp when the book is put on the shelves at midnight probably dealing with nine year olds that are itching just as much as I am to have that lovely hardback in my hand.

There is sooo much waiting to be discovered about this book that I truely am excited. Was Harry really the boy that the prophecy was talking about? Is Hogwarts going to stay open after the demise of Dumbledore at the hands of the Death Eaters? Will Ron and Hermionee ever admit to liking each other? Will the Trio ever graduate from Hogwarts or will they not return in order to try and find the rest of the horcruxes? These are just a few of the questions that I ask myself.

Another feeling that shortly followed the camp one was that this is the final book in the HP series. *insert sad face here* Rowling will never write another book about Harry. She has said so in many different interviews so one knows that she is going to try and finish it in such a way that no one will ever be confused about what happens afterwards. Another thing that makes me sad about this being the final book is that she has said (I can't find the interview right now where she said it but I will and update this entry later) that there are a few main characters that will die. We know she isn't bluffing because just look at what she did to Sirius and poor Dumbledore.

Ok. I'm going to go now because I just can't sit still. I have phone calls to make so that I can excited squeal about the release date to family and friends! Hope this news at least brightens someone's day like it has mine. OH! And btw....Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is in theaters July 13, 2007 (for which I will also be at camp :-( ) just in case you were wondering.

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