April 30, 2007

Saving the Best for Last: Blog Portfolio III

I titled this "Saving the Best for Last" but really, is it? Truthfully, no. This blog portfolio is small and does not showcase the full extend of my literary criticism knowledge. To get that, you'd have to look back at my first entry of the semester and read up until now. Each week I think (and hope) I have progressed from a naive and doubtful student to one who has an effective grasp on this thing we call lit crit.

Honestly, I started out with numerous aprehensions about this course. I'd never had another lit crit class, didn't know much about it, and have always been the annoying girl in class going "Aren't we reading a bit too much into this?". I didn't think I would be able to grasp all the ideas presented, let alone use or apply them to anything. Mimetic? New Historicism? All foreign words in my limited lit crit vocabulary. Then a remarkable thing happened- I got it. Granted, it wasn't an easy task right away. Looking at my early blog entries, I see that I was just summarizing the text and putting in my own sarcastic input where possible. I didn't really read into what it actually meant for the study of literarture or how it could be applied to the text. Although the numerous essays each week were a bit daunting at times, I think without such a wide selection and representation of each form I would not have been able to grasp the forms as well as I have.

This is not to say I'm a literary criticism pro- far from it. Yet, I certainly "get" it now, as shown through my presentation and term project. Here I was not only understanding lit crit, but also applying it as well! I've come full circle I think- I understand, I can explain, I can relate, and I can apply (maybe a bit too much- now I analyze everything, which makes reading a Cosmo tough). I even, dare I say it, like some forms of criticism! It's been a long journey, but I've done it and have taken more from this course than I initially assumed.

And now, onto the portfolio.

Coverage and Timeliness
The Irony of Wallpaper- My class presentation blog
The Culture of Lit- Of course my favorite form of lit crit would be last
It's All About Culture- Except When It's Not- Garson kind of killed the urn for me
Literature, History, Politics, and Confusion- A nice combo, I think
Lit Crit is Not for the Innocent- That's why I shouldn't study it, right?

The Irony of Wallpaper

Blog Carnival
Blog Carnival: Education Style

Literature, History, Politics, and Confusion

The Irony of Wallpaper
It's All About Culture- Except When It's Not
Lit Crit is Not for the Innocent

Comment Primo
Erin- It's All an Allusion...Or is It?
Erin- Garson Goes for the Girlie

Comment Grande
Karissa- Aphostrophizing Feminist Tendencies

Disney, Universal, and Dickens?

Term Projects
So How Sweet Is Lit Crit?
Term Project- Sleeping Beauty as Literary Critique
Peer Review Fun

Portfolio III -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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April 29, 2007

Blog Carnival: Education Style

Another round of blog carnival fun-

So Tiffany decided to be the generous hostess and asked the question for future teachers about how we would teach/introduce a piece of literature to our students. Now, and I always hate admitting this, but I'm not really looking to be a teacher in the future. It's more of a backup for me (sorry Tiffany and everyone else I just offended but it's true). However, if the day comes when someone puts a group of wide-eyed high schoolers in front of me, I guess it wouldn't hurt to have some things planned out.

Honestly, I'm not sure how I would go about introducing a work to my students. There seem to be two different ways for going about it- telling the students what to look for and just handing them a book and hoping they find something. I am wary about each. With the former method, I wonder if that will be too much guidance, if there is such a thing. If you tell a student to only look at a particular element (such as the history or a feminist theme), will they miss the rest and only focus in on that one part? Isn't that the fun of texts, to be able to read them whichever way we please? And yet, with the latter method, I wonder if the students will pick up on anything more than the plot.

I think that I would do a combination of the two. I'd give the students a little list of questions that should be used when reading a text. The list would include key points to look for, in both plot and theme. However, I wouldn't focus on just one (if I could help it) but include several so the students will have something for comparison and (hopefull) in class debate.

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So How Sweet is Lit Crit?

Seriously- how sweet can lit crit be, if used creatively? Pretty amazing, it turns out. Our presentations last week were a testament to what can be done with a clever mind, technology, and a tool kit full of literary critique methods.

First there was the presentation by Karissa and Jay which was, if I may, amazing. The duo translated various scenes from Tennesse William's "A Streetcar Named Desire" into AIM chat- you know, the "u want 2 meet b4 class? brb k" speak. Not only was the presentation hilarious, but it was also really informative as to how this form is rapidly becoming a way of writing all its own (sadly. Personally, I never use AIM speak when chatting but then again, I'd fear I was a failure to my major if I did). The presentation sparked a good discussion on whether or not AIM speak is helpful or harmful for the younger generation- something I've debated myself. I'm a summer camp counselor for girls 11-14 and I can see the AIM speak trickling into the notes they write and worry the rules of grammar and spelling might soon be lost on this generation. However, if it's getting them reading and writing, how bad can it be?

Next we had the pleasure of watching the presentation with Tiffany and Valerie on the different literary interpretations of the Harry Potter books. It was a really informative presentation, even if I didn't really understand much of it since I have yet to read a Harry Potter book. Regardless, it was fun to see how literary criticism can be applied to all sorts of literature.

Erin had a really fun presentation incorporating SNL's "Lazy Sunday" skit that mirrors a typical rap song except using The Chronical's of Narnia as the subject instead. Who knew the SNL writers were all about intertextuality? The song alone was funny and then Erin presented it so well that the examples of intertextuality practically jumped out. Also, the cupcakes didn't hurt...

And then onto Mitchell and Gina's presentation about who are really the implied audience in children's programing. Gina and I talked briefly about this topic before she presented and it's really an interesting idea- even though the shows are for "children" then why all the adult material in them? Some of the ideas and themes seem to be more there for the adults instead of the kids who might not get them anyway.

Ooo, then it was the presentation by Diana and I (Diana and me? Diana and myself? Oh whatever- I can't be good at everything)! Our project focused on applying literary criticism (formalism and historicism) to our favorite Disney movie- Sleeping Beauty. We hoped (and I think accomplished) to show that everything can be looked at through the literary criticism eyeglasses, even Disney movies. The highlight of the project, other than our amazing insights, was the awesome (and extremely well documented) website.

Next our boys Ebony and Ivory created a very detailed website that looked at several different forms of media (music and movies) through the eyes of literary criticism. Another fine example of how lit crit can be applied to, well, life.

Now Dave and the wonderful world of lit crit and Bono. I have always liked the idea of reading song lyrics as literature because, as Dave showed, they really are. Just because it is being sung doesn't mean there isn't a message behind it.

Finally we conclude with a very original presentation by Lorin and Denamarie on the relationship between "The Yellow Wallpaper" and a favorite movie of mine, Garden State (mmm Zack Braff...oh, um, never mind). No lie, I was a little mad as I watched the presentation because I wish I had thought of it first! They did such a good job making parallels between the story and the movie and I was dually impressed and informed. I love it when things just "synch" like that.

So that's the summary of our presentations. All different, all informative, and all using the skills we've learned in lit crit this semester.

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April 23, 2007

Lit Crit is Not For the Innocent

"Texts are certainly not available for innocent, unhistorical readings. Any reading must be made from a particular position, but is not reducible to that position (not least because texts are not infinitely malleable or interpretable, but offer certain constraints and resistances to readings made of them)" (Barker 444).

According to Barker et all in "Nymphs and Reapers Heavily Vanish...", if you're going to read a text, you'd better do it right. None of this "innocent" stuff- real literary critics get their hands dirty and uncover more than what is on the surface.

This seems to be a bit of a circle of criticism, to me. We read with a position in mind, one that we will explore and develop through our readings and ventures into the "not innocent" historicism, but we should never box the readings into these specific positions either. Sometimes our interpretations will be plausible, sometimes they won't, but either way the text is not to be labeled as right or wrong in either instance. And while apparently some hard-core historical readings can offer up numerous insights into the work, they are not the end of the story. As Lorin quoted Dr. Jerz in her blog, "...if there is nothing for us to talk about anymore then we are 'intellectually dead' as Dr. Jerz put it".

Barker and Hulme, ''Nymphs and Reapers Heavily Vanish'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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Literature, History, Politics, and Confusion

"'Literature' signifies as an element in a system of differences. It is that which is not minor, popular, ephemeral, or trivial, as well as that which is not medicine, economics, history or, of course, politics. 'Literature' designated a value and a category" (Belsey 432).

I must say, I'm a little on the fence about Belsey's "Literature, History, Politics". This seems to be a reoccuring trend among the essays for this week, maybe because I am slowly slipping out of lit crit mode or because the articles are not telling me what I want to hear.

Just to look at the quote, it seems like Belsey is arguing that Literature (I'm capitalizing intentionally here) is just another part of the differences and elements within a culture. While it is not something as easily definable as other elements of a culture, Literature does have its place and can teach and impact a society just as any other item would. Then...Belsey looses me by, and I'm quoting and agreeing with Tiffany here, "... bashing the other forms of literary criticism". Was this an arguement that history and politics are more important or influential than literature? That literature does have meaning without a study of the other two? And is this cultural criticism if you discount all other forms and ideas?

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

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April 22, 2007

It's All About the Culture- Except When It's Not

No lie, I fell asleep reading Garson's "Bodily Harm: Keat's Figures in the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'". But really, can you blame me? I come into it looking for a mind-altering text about the cultural relevance of reading "Ode on a Grecian Urn" through this perspective and am rewarded with...well, anything but.

"A successful attempt to capture in words a cultural icon like the urn would win him permanent place of honour in a culture that had invested heavily in such artefacts and in the values they had been made to stand for" (Garson 453).

Ok, so Greek culture was all the rage during Keat's time. Um...cool. And the British museum had Greek sculptures. Great. Ok, so what about the poem itself? While I know I just got done saying that this cultural criticism is my favorite form of interpretting literary texts, I feel, at least in this article, it needs to be balanced by something else as well. While culture can have a lot to do with a text, it's never the only thing. Hunting for the exact urn Keat's used when writing the text (a futile search if there ever was one) needs to be balanced by the words of the poem as well. Keep that in mind, Garson.

Garson, 'Bodily Harm" Keats's Figures in the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn''' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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The Culture of Lit

"And if an exploration of a particular culture will lead to a heightened understanding of a work of literature produced within a culture, so too a careful reading of a work of literature will lead to a heightened understanding of the culture within which it was produced" (Greenblatt 438).

It's the article version of everything I've been yelling all semester. Welcome to the world of cultural criticism.

Truly, this is the one form of criticism I feel very strongly about, if one can feel very strongly about a particular form. As I've been stating during, oh, almost every literary work- you can't read a piece with our cultural ideals and norms in mind. The piece must be taken within the context it was written and not our own changed world view now. We can't manipulate a work to fit a feminist or racial agenda- that's how it was back then and even if it is different or not agreeable by today's standards, it was the way of life back then and must be viewed as such.

As the quote above states, not only can learning about a particular time of cutlure help understand the literature, but the literature also gives valuable insight into the world it was written into as well. So many social standards and cultural constructs can be found just by looking at a work of literature as a window into another world (wow was that cliched). It's a nice give and take relationship- one must know about the culture of the piece in order to read the work but the story gives hints as to the culture as well. A nice combination of two fields of study, literature and history, put into one. My education classes that argue for cross-curriculum teaching would be so excited.

Greenblatt, ''Culture'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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April 19, 2007

Term Project- Sleeping Beauty as Literary Critique

So, why Sleeping Beauty? Well, why not, really? Regardless of the fact that it's Diana and I's favorite Disney movie, Sleeping Beauty is a form of art and literature just like anything else we could study. Some members of the class chose to look at lyrics and other movies- why leave out animation?

Sleeping Beauty actually has a strong lliterary background, based on its plot. Disney didn't come up with the story, but more like stole it from similar tales and reworked it into an animated feature.

What Diana and I set out to do with this project was uncover the literary criticism elements within the movie (animation, plot, and story) and how it can be applied to the work as a whole. The points mainly focused upon are historicism, literary canon (the Disney canon) and formalism. Our site is a fun journey into the world of a great movie and an even better interpretation of it.

Check out our amazing project at the following site: Sleeping Beauty Literary Critique

Term Project -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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Disney, Universal, and Dickens?

As English majors, I'm sure you'll appreciate this article. And as non-English majors, I'm sure you'll appreciate the "What the hell?" element as well.

I recently stumbled across an article about, and I'm being completely serious about this, a Charles Dickens theme park in England called (and again, I'm not making this up) Dicken's World. Because nothing sounds like a good time more than a Victorian-era theme-park based on an author.

Now, I can see a nice re-creation of the Victorian age as a vyable attraction idea- like Williamsburg. But oh, no, the British have taken it to a new level and made an actual theme-park based on the life and works of Dickens. The attractions include pickpockets and wenches, as well as a haunted house and animatronic theater show. And I was worried the park might be kitchy or boring...

The best part of the entire park, in my opinion, is its location. As per the article, Dicken's World is "sandwiched between an outlet mall and a multiplex cinema". Does no one else find the humor in this irony?

I guess this is just another thing to add to my list of why I should return to England. Forget the Globe Theatre, I have Dicken's World to go to.

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April 10, 2007

The Irony of Wallpaper- Feldstein Presentation

Meanwhile, Gilman’s editors have repeatedly altered the spelling of wall-paper, the overdetermined signifier that refers to both the title and the image of protean change featured in the story” (Feldstein 402)

Upon my many readings of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” I can’t say I ever noticed the inconsistency in the spelling in the wall covering. And to read that there is such controversy about it? Me, being me, initially categorized this as some far-fetched interpretation and figured Charlotte Perkins Gilman just didn’t know how to spell wallpaper correctly. So she hyphenated a little here, didn’t there- does it matter? The skeptic in me must admit that yes, actually it does.

As Feldstein points out in his article Reader, Text, and Ambiguous Referentiality in “The Yellow Wall-Paper”, the wallpaper is a character unto itself. While the story seems to create a protagonist in the woman, the wallpaper is equally a character as well. Think about- it “changes” and “moves” and is the central part that eventually drives the woman to her unusual deeds (I hesitate to say “insanity” here, as you will see in a minute). Therefore, just as the woman changes in the story, the wallpaper does as well, both literally and figuratively. Figuratively- it becomes the obsessed over and central object of this woman’s focus. Literally- in the spelling. Perhaps Perkins did know how to spell wallpaper after all.

Text as question formulates an inconclusiveness that attends enigma generated in part by the hyphen between wall and paper- a sign of difference and reminder of text as Other which we look for closure, a means of satisfying unsatisfiable desires” (Feldstein 407).

Two different spellings mean two different ways of viewing the wallpaper within the text. There is the real verses the imagined or the non-hyphened verses the hyphened spelling. The switch does more to illustrate the differences between what is the real wallpaper in the story and what is the imagined or exaggerated “character” for the woman.

Spelling aside, Feldstein argues for an ironic reading of “The Yellow Wall-Paper”. Irony…mmm…my favorite topic. And why shouldn’t read a text ironically? Not everything must be taken at face value- and this story is apparently one of them.

From John’s perspective, the narrator is a hapless romantic, a ‘little girl’, a ‘blessed little goose,’ in other words, a regressed creature” (Feldstein 404).

But what if we are reading the text all wrong? Instead of our regressed, hapless, insane narrator, she is actually a woman trying (with a vain attempt) to gain some freedom and recognition in her locked up world? Feldstein questions that she is less insane and more a woman trying to be strong within the confines set up by her husband.

Now Jay, stop rolling your eyes. I’m not going to get all feminist on you. Well, alright maybe I am, but I don’t mean it that way. Basically, Feldstein is making the case that “The Yellow Wall-Paper” is just more than it appears- and we thought we’d criticized this thing to death. But let’s focus less about (our favorite topic) of whether she killed herself or what a horrible husband she had and turn to the actual narrator and what she represents within the text. Sure, she appears rather insane throughout most of the piece, but is that actually the cause for her problems? Or is something more underneath? As Erin stated in her blog: “Feldstein at first seemed to be playing “good critic” by using historical and formalist methods, but then…zing-pow! He busted out the wallpaper as a sign of not only her madness but a more Freudian/mirror meaning. When we discuss this in class, it’s almost a sore subject because everyone gets such passionate opinions about what the ‘real meaning’ of the story is”. We’re so consumed with something we’ll never understand (the “real meaning” of any text) that we may be missing the (mmm) ironic interpretation.

Rather than being a helpless victim of insanity, the narrator is instead embracing it. She is not the “victim” of her illness and should not be viewed as such. “Mindful of John’s desire to misread her symptoms, the narrator chooses to act out, visualizing her experience, high-lighting the common predicament she shares with other women victimized by patriarchy. She thus stages herself in the field of representation” (Feldstein 405). There isn’t else the narrator can do but accept her illness and work with it to make a statement about the treatment of illnesses at the time. She is not this poor little fragile lamb who has succumbed to the insanity but a calculating and crafty woman who is more than is initially presented to the narrator.

Stated by Denamarie on her blog: “The narrator believes that her projections of the victims in a restrictive wallpaper might be similar to her and they share a common psychogenesis with her: they all want to come out”. And while I’m all sorts of impressed she used a word like “psychogenesis”, I also like how she found the relationship between our two main characters here- the wallpaper and the narrator. Instead of being the remnants of a woman’s life lost to insanity, they are the reminders that inside there is a woman who is trying to break out- break out of the bonds of her locked room, her locked life, her trouble with the husband, the social standards for mental illness and women at the time, and herself as well.

Stated another way, ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper’ is more writerly than a readerly text, which Gilman designed to challenge readers to produce, not to merely consume” (Feldstein 407). In other words- Gilman made it difficult to understand on purpose to highlight not only the unjust attitudes of the time, but that not everything is as it appears. Jay puts it nicely with “The ambiguity of the ending, and the role of John, and the rest of the story (sarcasm intended) is actually intended, and the only way we can have a shot of interpreting the literature is by looking for signifiers to help provide a couple of possible solutions for the reader”. And while I’m going to ignore the “sarcasm intended” part, he’s exactly right in that Gilman made her story ambiguous for a reason- not to confuse the reader, but to make us think.

Feldstein, ''Reader, Text, and Ambiguous Referentiality in 'The Yellow Wallpaper''' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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April 9, 2007

Blog With Me, Baby: Porfolio Dos

A collection of some of my best or proof that I spend way too much time coming up with creative entry titles.

Coverage and Timeliness
Mimetic What?- I'm still not completely sure...
Write Me a Picture- Those who can't paint, write
Everyman and Everything- I can't get that Indigo Girls song out of my head
The Gender Gap- Not that there should really be one...
The "Real" Characters- Sometimes a character isn't just a character
Feminism: Take Two- Everyone's favorite topic
*Insert Confused Look Here*- That's just my general expression in life
Conventions, Conventions, Conventions- Think this entry is about conventions?
A Critical Path Indeed- I don't take criticism well
Literary Realism- As opposed to literary fakeism?
And the Circle Continues- No, not the "Circle of Life" from The Lion King
The (Not-So) Mysterious World of Cereno- You can't fool me, Benito
You Disappoint Me, Harrison Ford- And I've come expect so much from you, too
What Do Cans Have to Do With Literature?- Nothing, actually
Mortem for a Modernist- At least it wasn't the formalist
Creating the Text- Yet another form of criticism
I Really Feel Like Buying Jeans Now- You can never have too many jeans
Wright's Right- An extremely obvious play on words, but a good article
The Culture of Lit- It all comes back to culture
Idea/Ideology- Starring Captain Happy and his Unicorn Posse
The Magic of the Tempest- Shakespeare, that old wizard
Ah, the French- The French would creat semiology, too

The Gender Gap
Feminism: Take Two
Conventions, Conventions, Conventions
Literary Realism
What Do Cans Have to Do With Literature?
The Culture of Lit
The Magic of the Tempest

Blog Carnival
Blog Carnival: A Ferris Wheel of Fun

The Gender Gap
I Really Feel Like Buying Jeans Now

Mimetic What?
Feminism: Take Two
A Critical Path Indeed
You Disappoint Me, Harrison Ford
Mortem for a Modernist

Comment Primo
Karissa- New and Improved! Historicism 3000--for all your critical needs, Apparently I Missed a Cool Class Last Week
Valerie- Dragging This Out...

Comment Grande
Karissa- Meaning Garden

Link Gracious
Tiffany- Reality is Just a Part of Life

How Literary Criticism Has Expanded My Life

Portfolio II -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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How Literary Criticism Has Expanded My Life

Taking Literary Criticism has done a great number of things for me, both academically and personally. I can now further interpret a text using varying (and often confusing) forms of criticisms, see the meaning behind an author's work, realize that no matter how far-fetched my interpretations about a text I can never be wrong because someone else did is more far-fetched, and...understand the cultural references in Gilmore Girls! Yes, I found a use for lit crit during an episode of "Gilmore Girls". If that isn't impressive (or sad), I don't know what is.

So here's the scenario: I'm lazily sitting around, watching my thousandth episode of the show that day (I was watching an entire season...what a productive break I had, hm?) and my ears perk up at the passing mention of a certain name. I quickly rewind to make sure I heard correctly and, yes, our favorite literary critic E.D. Hirsch was mentioned! He wasn't actually in the episode, he was just spoken about, but still...E.D. Hirsch! Now, I've seen this particular episode several times prior to this viewing and I never picked up on the name...nor would I have cared previously since I had no idea who he is. But now, as an educated student of literary criticism, I am able to appreciate the reference and understand it as well. Wow did I feel smart. Thank you, literary criticism, for enriching my life and allowing me to understand the obscure references in my favorite show. I'm a better person for it.

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April 5, 2007

Blog Carival: a Ferris Wheel of Fun

Our generious hostess, Diana, has come up with the next blog carnival topic: fan fiction, literary criticism, and you. Enjoy.

Personally, I've never written or read fan fiction, so I haven't often pondered its importance in the world of literature, or how it would be looked at through the eyes of a literary critic. However, the same forms of criticism we've been working with all semester can easily be applied to fan fiction as well...actually, they can be applied to pretty much anything. Yet another example of how lit crit can take over our lives.

Before starting this post, I read Jay's views on fan fiction and, while I hate to steal his idea, intertextuality makes the most sense for how fan fiction could be criticised (sorry Jay). Fan fiction draws off of one work of literature (or another form of media like a movie or tv show), models it with the same characters and similar plot structure of the original, and mirrors the style. That screams intertextuality. One work drawing off of another, or being influenced by another, to create something new.

Diana brought up the idea that it might be authorial intent as well. I'm not sure I would look at it as authorial intent, since it appears almost too obvious what the author intended. The creator of the fan fiction wants a certain story to happen with the characters of the original work, so they write it in order to make it happen. They intend to make something that others can enjoy, or a continuation of a piece, to further enjoy the original story line (can't get enough of Harry Potter? Make a fan fiction about him).

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Ah, the French

Leave it to the French to come up with semiology.

"There seems to be a difference, then, between what I call the rhetorization of grammar (as in the rhetorical question) and the grammatization of rhetoric...The former end up in indetermination, in a suspended uncertainty that was unable to choose between two modes of reading whereas the latter seems to reach a truth, albeit by the negative road of exposing an error, a false pretense" (de Man 372).

It seems like there is a little controversey over grammar vs. rhetoric in literature, or at least as per de Man in Semiology and Rhetoric . Which way should the text be read- literally or rhetorically? And when should one do this? How does the reader know what to take as verbaitim and what to read as a rhetorical question?

Grammar isn't the deciding factor when examining literature and how to read it, however. It seems that with questions in a piece (often poetry) there are very few clues on how it should be interpretted. Taken literally it holds one meaning, and taken rhetorically it holds a completely different one. It seems as if there is no absolute and surefire way to read a piece- take it literally and we're wrong or take it rhetorically and we're...wrong. Well, that's no fun. How can we, when all we've been talking about lately is the structure of the text, not be able to rely on it to answer our questions? If you can't trust the grammar of the piece, who can you trust? Hmm...I see another form of criticism coming into play here. Authorial intent, anyone?

de Man, ''Semilogy and Rhetoric'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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April 4, 2007

The Magic of the Tempest

"Art, like life, orders by acts of wishing and willing and above all imagining; the results are bound to be a little messy. They can be neat only if will dominates all" (Miko 382).

However, as we see, will does not dominate all in the Tempest but rather it is magic and its influence on the story that have the greatest impact. And magic, as Miko points out in Tempest (seriously people, title your articles better) is anything but neat. And that's just the way Shakespeare wants it.

The majority of this article was spent on the magic of the play, a huge part of the text. Not only does it influence all the characters, whether directly or indirectly, but it holds another meaning as well- the well understood "things aren't always as they appear" thought. The magic does not act merely as a catalyst for further plot development but instead as a way of masking items or events under the cloud of "are they or aren't they?". It becomes more than a symbol as well, but as a form of Art itself.

The magic transports us into Prospero's world and allows the reader to be manipulated by his Art- similar to that of a viewer of a painting: he or she is taken into this fake world on the canvas. It is all encompassing, forcing the readers and the characters of the Tempest to reexamine the world around them, taking into account what is real and what has been masked by the magic, or the Art. The Art of Prospero's magic is such a large part of the lives of the characters that the play would not function in the same way without. As the quote states, this can create some challenges or discrepencies in the text since nothing is ever neat and simple if it is to be Art. Shakespeare did not write the Tempest in a straightforward easy to understand manner for the same reason he included the magic so predominantly- both are to be examined, reviewed, and studied by the reader. What fun is it if Shakespeare just comes right out and tells you what it means?

Miko, ''Tempest'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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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)

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April 2, 2007

The Culture of Lit

Oooo look who is being all proactive and posting really really early? Oh yeah...ok, now onto the blog:

"...the urge to collapse distinctions between high and popular culture, between canonical and noncanonical literature, between one field of study and another, is motivated not only by skepticism about the ontological status of these distinctions but perhaps more by the belief that such distinctions serve to maintain the existing power relations in society" (Keesey 413).

If I wasn't an English person, I'd be a sociological person. I love learning about how cultures impact and fit in with our society and...now with literature. This new historicism, or post historicism, or what have you, is all about the culture. But not just in relation to literature though, but with all forms of society and how it interacts and relates- how one thing influences and fits into another.

It's more than just culture, however. Sure, it's there in literature, but the question is more of a why. Why are these distinctions made between different forms of culture in our society, or between the high and low forms of literature? As mentioned in the second paragraph of 413 in Keesey's Introduction, who is it that decides what goes into the canon, who decides what it "literature" and what is not, or how we should read a certain piece? Where are all these people hiding? Looking at it from this post/new historicism perspective, maybe we'll never know who these people are, but we can know the why. What seperates us also holds us together- high and low brow literature creates the distinctions between each we crave and play into society's tendency to want to break people into groups like social classes- those who read the high brow and those who do not, those who believe one form of criticism and those who believe another. We and, in turn, our literature is defined by this culture and the distinctions within it. Um...I may have gotten off topic here.

Keesey, Ch 7 (Introduction) -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

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