April 3, 2007


"Ideology signifies the imaginary ways in which men experience the real world, which is, of course, the kind of experience literature gives us too- what it feels like to live in particular conditions, rather than a conceptual analysis of those conditions" (Eagleton 425).

Ah, more about culture, huh? Once again, we (as readers, literary critics, or people in general) are asked to examine not only the aspects that make up our culture, but why they are created and what lies within it to create our social norms. However, as noted in Eagleton's Literature and History, these cultures and ideologies that we see in literature are written for the time in which the piece was produced- not for future audiences. Sure, some things still hold true today and allow us to draw upon our current ideologies to interpret those of the past, but others make us question the cultural practices of the past if not viewed through historical eyes.

Take our favorite story, "Benito Cereno" for example. Melville used the ideologies of the time in which he wrote it- that was all he knew. However, if we try to interpret it as he was a racist, sexist, or another ist, we are putting our current idea into the work and seperating it from that of the culture of the time. Lit needs to be read with a focus on the culture of the time and interpret it from there and relate it to our own after already gaining an understanding of the ideologies.

Eagleton, ''Literature and History'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by VanessaKolberg at April 3, 2007 3:46 PM | TrackBack

Amen! I mentioned our Benito Cereno in my blog also. I get so annoyed when everyone gets all feminist about our readings or goes "Oh, that's so racist and cruel." I just want to scream, "No shit, Sherlock! Read within the time period. We are not in high school." We are lucky to live in a society in which racism and sexism is frowned upon, but crying about it in lit class will not make what does exist disappear into the land of Captain Happy and his Unicorn Posse. I'm sorry for swearing on your blog, but it felt good to rant. Please fire back if I frightened or amused you mildly.

Posted by: Erin at April 6, 2007 12:03 PM

I thought I was the only one who said that! Regardless, I think there is something to be said for viewing a work in our current culture...but it shouldn't be only how we criticize it. We need to step back, reevaluate according to the historical time, and challenge ourselves to find the meaning (historicism and authorial intent).

Posted by: Nessa at April 6, 2007 3:50 PM

If someone doesn't start a band called "Captain Happy and his Unicorn Posse," then there is no justice in the world. It could cover songs like "Puff the Magic Dragon" and "Bicycle Built for Two."

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at April 6, 2007 6:16 PM

Haha I agree, that would be a great name for a band, Dr. Jerz. If I had any musical talent at all, I would start that group.

Posted by: Nessa at April 9, 2007 12:58 PM
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