February 2009 Archives

Freud Never Ceases to Make Me Blush

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Once again, instead of using Hamilton, I decided to pick a harder term/concept to define because I felt it would be more beneficial to the reader, as well as myself.

In Gilbert's and Gubar's article, "The Yellow Wallpaper," they mentioned the "dream symbolism by Freud" (261).  I immediately wanted to know what this was because for this week's paper, I wanted to use psycholanalysis. 

I found that Freud (I'm really not surprised) was messed up.  I base my interpretations of Freud off of http://library.thinkquest.org/C005545/english/dream/freud.htm.  In a nutshell (which Freud would probably see as a female's womb or genital), it said that dreams could be used to indicate desires that may have appeared in the previous day.  His sybols were all sexual: pointy objects for mal genitals, hollow ones for female.  He also had sexual connotations which I do not feel comfortable talking about on my blog.  I think that it could be fun and possibly enlightening to analyse a work using this, which I may do.

Would you ever use Freud to analyze a work or is he too sick?  (He seems like he could beat Michael Scott in the ultimate "That's what she said" competition.)

Too much!  Take me back!


The Power of Literature

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From Gilbert's and Gubar's article "The Yellow Wallpaper" in Keesey's Contexts for Criticism:

"When 'The Yellow Wallpaper' was published she sent it to Weir Mitchell, whose strictures had kept her from attempting the pen during her own breakdown, thereby aggravating her illness, and she was delighted to learn, years later, that 'he has changed his treatment of nervous prostration since reading ' her story" (263). 

I chose this passage simply to demonstrate the power that literature has.  So many things have been changed over time as a result of people's writings, in fact, everything has.  When people say, "What good is literature?" a good response would be, "Has anyone in your family ever been deathly ill or even had something minor like strep throat?  Not so long ago, things like strep throat could be (and don't get me wrong, if mistreated can still prove to be) fatal.  It is only because doctors over the years have recorded their findings, and in the case of Gilman that she recorded her findings, that we have the medicine we have today.  We can learn so much through reading.  Although Gilman's style of recording symptoms are in the form of a story, it was still helpful in changing one doctor's way of treating illness.  This singular change, assuming that he's the only one that it impacted, could still make a difference in countless women's lives.  These women may have been saved from disappearing behind the wallpaper that is insanity because of Gilman.  Gilman (since I love superheros, bear with me) used her power to write in order to fix societal problems, like superman used his powers to save the citizens of Metropolis from their own disasters.  Wow!  If only one day I could impact people like that!

What other ways does literature change our world?

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Prospero and Basilio: Shakespeare and de la Barca

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From "Reason of State and Repetition in The Tempest and La vida es sueño" by Stephen Rupp:

"Prospero and Basilio are artist-princes who believe in their abilities to plot or control the course of public life; the working-through of their schemes releases the state from the blocked energies of the past and unveils the prospect of a new politics that will not reiterate old errors and injustices."

I would be lying if I didn't say that I trudged through this text.  I don't find politics in the least bit amusing.  I think it's good to know how it works, but to an extent, it is always a front.  Anyway, I found the above statement to be very interesting because as I mentioned in If "Life is a Dream," Why Do I Bother?, I found many parallels between works that I'm familiar with and "Life is a Dream."   I was surprised that I did not see the similarities between some of the characters, especially Prospero and Basilio.  In the end of both stories, these two characters renounce their control over what is meant to be, and allow things to be the way "they should be." 

What other parallels can you see between the two stories?  Do you think that Pedro Calderon de la Barca read "The Tempest" and purposefully mirrored some of the same issues, making it more uniquely relatable to a Spanish heritage?

Take me back to the mainpage so I can finish responding to other people's blogs...

One Stop Shopping at Sears?

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From "Freedom Isn't Free: Free Will in La vida es sueño Revisited" by Theresa Ann Sears:

"Some readers, such as Alexander Parker, have noted the ambiguity in Calderón's presentation of free will, in which 'It is generally said that Calderón's theatre upholds the freedom of the will (which is true), even against Fate and the force of Destiny (which is doubtfully true)' (97). Few point out, however, that the problem lies not in Calderón's view of free will, but in the concept itself. Spanish, unlike English, has two words for the general concept of will: albedrío and voluntad, both of which refer to faculties of the mind and heart as they were envisioned dating back to classical times. Both the words' origins and their subsequent accumulation of meanings, however, demonstrate subtle differences."

I think that her idea of freedom vs. free will was good, although I believe that she neglected to mention that the primary idea of the play was that those who run away from destiny, meet it but those who face their destiny have the "free will" to change it.  I could really write a paper about this, but I don't think that it would count as one of the two types of criticism we must use.

Think about this.  When Basilio tried to escape what he believed to be destiny, he robbed his son out of life.  Only when he decided to do the right thing did he discover that his son was not a monster (his reward).  Clarin, trying to run away from getting killed in the war hid, causing him to be killed.  When he was dying, he muddered something along the lines that by trying to run away from fate that he meets it.  Finally, when Basilio faces his son, he is received openly and their relationship is mended.  Thus, everyone who tried to run, faced the consequences.  Those who accepted the fact that they cannot control the future and "manned up" were able to overcome it.

What do you think?  What did you like about Sears' article?

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What? He Was Supposed to Be Funny! OOH!!!

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From "Life os a Dream" by Pedro Calderon de la Barca:

SEG:       In that case, I shall put you to death,

                to prevent your knowing that I know

                that you know my weakness

                   Merely because you overheard me,

                with my brawy arms

                I must tear you to shred.

CLA:       As for me, I’m deaf, and I wasn’t able

                to listen to you. (15)

As stupid as I will probably sound saying this, I didn't realize how funny Clarin was until I saw the play!  When I saw the play, Matt Henderson did a fantastic job at presenting Clarin.  I have now seen Henderson in two plays (this one and "The Merry Wives of Windsor") and he brings life to the stage and a character.  He was so funny even when he was just on the stage saying nothing!  His facial expressions and clear speech patterns make him great to watch and easy to listen to.

My chosen scene reminded me of the scene in Wedding Crashers when Vince Vohn pretends to be deaf in order to avoid confronting a woman he had former relations with.  Both characters pretend to be deaf to avoid an uncomfortable situation. 

As for my viewing experience, it wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been.  The audience, besides Greta, Kayley, and me, (it seems) didn't realize that the play has comedic elements.  I found myself laughing obnoxiously loud (slightly louder than I'd normally laugh) to try to make up for the crowd's lack of a reaction.  I felt so bad for the actors because they were so good, and I mean that with all my heart, and the audience was dead.  Being that we were at the first show, I think that the actors could have used a more enthusiastic audience.

I could honestly not say enough about the cast.  They were very strong, each bringing a unique personality to their characters.  Their brilliant acting really helped each character come alive, jump right off the page.  If Pedro Calderon de la Barca were alive today, he would have loved the presentation.  I want to take this time to really congratulate the cast a a job very well done!  (I have a hard time reading plays because I have difficulty developing the characters in my mind and keeping them straight.  Seeing this play was enlightening and really enhanced my understanding!)

What did you think?  What struck you about the performance as opposed to reading the play (if you've read it)?  Who was your favorite character?



If "Life is a Dream," Why Do I Bother?

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Ok...so I admit the title has nothing to do with my entry, but I just thought it was funny.

From “Life is a Dream” by Pedro Calderon de la Barca:

Clo:        Convinced by your reasoning,

 I shall be generous first!

 Rosaura, I shall give you

 my property; take it and live

 in a convent; the plan

 I have in mind is well thought out…” (147)

When I read this dialogue, I was immediately reminded of Hamlet’s famous lines to Ophelia, “Get thee to a nunn'ry…” (Hamlet III.i.120).  The context within itself is very different for Clotaldo is telling Rosaura to leave to a place of refuge because civil war is about to break out.  Hamlet is telling, in an insulting manner, to leave the kingdom and go join a nunnery/brothel (depending on how you think it should be interpreted).  But isn’t Hamlet only telling Ophelia that because he cared about her?  I guess whether or not the context is different depends on how you view Hamlet.  If you think that Hamlet was insane and was just blurting out whatever he thought would be hurtful, then maybe he wasn’t trying to protect her.  However, if he was sane, he may have only been trying to communicate that she leave the kingdom for it was no longer safe; Ophelia was just too stupid to see that.  I guess that this depends on your reader-response. 

We know that Clotaldo is saying this to protect his daughter.  She, however, does not want to be protected, she wants vengeance, what rightfully belongs to her. 

I saw other parallels between the “Life is a Dream” and other literary works, as well.  What did you see?  What kind of intertextual relations did you find?

Course webpage.

Click here to see what I thought about Seton Hill's presentation of "Life is a Dream"



Two Down, One to Go! Portfolio 2

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 Once again, it's time for another Portfolio!  In this folder, I think that I continued the good work that I did the first third of the semester.  I've been working really hard to make sure everything is done on time and done well.  I think that my timeliness is notable because it shows my dedication to blogging and Literary Criticism in general.  As soon as I come out of class on Thursday night I usually start working on reading and blogging for the next week.  Most of my blogs are posted several days early and not one has been late.  I'm really proud of the work I've done and now wish to show off a little.

   What I've learned from blogging and this class in general is that time needs to be budgeted.  All of my blog entries are not really long.  Frankly, they don't have to be.  Some things strike an individual so hard that she must write a lot and sometimes that individual may not have a lot to say.  Blogging has also helped me understand some concepts better.  The conversation that Greta, Ellen, and I have on my blog The Terrible Terribleness That Exists Within A Terrible Criticism really helped me to start to wrap my head around post-structuralism.  I suggest anyone reading this check that out.



  • The Reason For a Mimetic Criticism is an in depth analysis of Paris's critical essay.  I think that it was pretty well done and deserved to be examined in greater depth.  Also, I did my presentation on this article making it all the more important to provide an in-depth blog about it.
  • One Stop Shopping at Sears? is a shorter blog entry (especially for the depth section).  I think that I was effective in pointing out a recurring structure in "Life is a Dream."
  • The Sexism in Pirates of the Caribbean refutes Donovan's claims (and proves them) with my favorite movie.  I dissect the main characters showing that female characters aren't the only aesthetic ones.
  • This One's For You Dr. J is an entry (who said that Pirates can't be analyzed at all?) that shows my abilities to look within a series of movies and determine what makes it work, why Captain Jack Sparrow is so amusing.  It is interesting that out of the four main characters (Sparrow, Swann, Turner, Norrington) only two are actually static characters.  I worked hard on this one.  If you are interested in the Pirates movies, I suggest you check it out.
  • Transcending Transcendentalism is actually a "Hamilton entry" in which I did not use Hamilton at all.  I linked to various sites and even tore apart the word in order to understand it better.  I linked graciously to the web.
  • In Breast Feeding, I took a look at the scene in Benito Cereno where Delano notices a woman breast feeding a baby on the ship.  I point out the psychological aspects of it, that Delano only sees what he wants to see.

Blog Carnival Entry

  • Blog Carnival #2- An Abundance of Katherines is the kick-off blog for this carnival.  I was the one who kicked this one off.  Katie will be wrapping it up.  We are doing it on the book we read in Young Adult Literature An Abundance of Katherines.
  • An Abundance of Water. A Psychoanalytic Reading. is my entry for this carnival.  I use psychoanalysis/mimetic criticism for this entry.  (It's kind of my thing.)  I reflected on the book An Abundance of Katherines.  The main character has a lot of issues with self-esteem.  This could also go in my depth section but I'm not putting it there because there are enough entries there. 



  • The Early Bird Gets the Worm (Hopefully) is a blog where I started a discussion with my peers about mimesis.  I continually went back to check it and make sure the conversation was still going.
  • The Terrible Terribleness That Exists Within A Terrible Criticism questions the value of post-structural criticism.  I posed a few questions for my peers that sparked a good conversation.  It is also a good show of effort for my peers, Greta and Ellen, who explained the concept to me.
  • What? He Was Supposed to Be Funny! OOH!!! praises the performance of the actors in Seton Hill's production of "Life is a Dream."  Three of my coursemates and one fellow blogger (who happened to play Clarin in the production) commented on this blog.
  • Mom! He's Touching Me Again! is an entry that is concerned with historical criticism.  Greta wrote a long and thoughtful comment on it which I think is noteworthy and should definately be checked out.
  • Eagleton's Description of Post-Structuralism=qewreyriypgibberishadsfgjkhmb started a pretty good conversation between my peers and I (namely Katie and Greta).  They were able to de-fog post-structuralism for me a little.
  • I DO NOT LIKE IT SAM I AM! started a good conversation.  They helped to clarify things a little for me.  Actually, to be honest, they set me straight.  I was wrong, but I'm not going to sulk about it, I'm glad I was wrong.  Post-structuralism isn't too bad actually.


  • As mentioned above, all of my entries are timely.  That's that me guarantee!  Here's just one example of my timeliness though. The Power of Literature


  • The Reason For a Mimetic Criticism is, as I mentioned before (in the depth section) an in depth analysis of Paris's critical essay. In it I also link graciously to three blogs of my peers.  Two of these blogs are Greta's and one is Derek's.  I highly suggest checking out these entries because they are very insightful.
  • There is no category for this entry to fit into, however, it is most similar to the "link gracious" except I do not link to my peers, I link to the web.  Without much further ado, here is Transcending Transcendentalism
  • If “Realistic” Fiction Exists, How Can There Be Minor Characters? is Greta's blog that questions Paris's article.  I left a long and thoughtful comment, taking my time to inform her about Paris's article because I know a lot about it.  (comment informative/grande)


  • My Outline for the Presentation of "The Uses of Psychology" is an extra entry that I did to help my peers understand the article I was going to present in class, Paris's "The Uses of Psychology."  It is my outline that I used to present off of in class.  I thought that my peers might want to look at it before I presented if they happened to be struggling or if they wanted to examine it when I was done.

The Reason For a Mimetic Criticism

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From "The Uses of Psychology" by Bernard Paris in Keesey's Contexts for Criticism:

"What I am suggesting, then, is that if we view him [the implied author] as a fictional persona, as another dramatized consciousness, rather than as an authoritative source of values, of experience.  What we have, in effect, is a deep inside view of his mind, a view which makes us phenomenologically aware of his experience of the world" (221).

If I am reading this right (I, as the implied author being flawed), I understand that Paris is trying to tell us that we need to realize that the implied author (definition provided on wikipedia) is not "a kind of god" but rather just another player in the game that is fiction.  He, too, is someone that we could psychoanalyze being a part of this experience (that we call literature) because as Lukacs points out "No writer is a true realist...if he can direct the evolution of his own character at will" (219).  The author, then, must leave his own body and become someone else, someone very different.  He must not lead his own work, but be lead by it as if the character in his story actually exists.  It is this separation from the real world that gives the implied author a different existence from the actual author and it is also the tidbit that allows us to analyze him. 

It seems to be Paris' point that we don't just read literature (or at least we shouldn't), we experience it.  We are supposed to submerge ourselves in the world of the characters.  Once we do this, we can understand the inner-workings of their minds and as a result of this, write about it. 

I also would like to comment about how well Paris emulates some of the same techniques he argues for.  He comments that "The problematic existential perception of reality, which Mimesis exists to celebrate, is one that is informed by the insights of Historicism" (218).  I admit that I was frustrated by all the quoting of other critics and history in the first pages of his article, but when I read this, I realized that he used it to uphold his claim about a form of criticism that needs history.  I don't know if he intended to do this, but it was very interesting nonetheless.  Also, five paragraphs from the end of his essay, Paris said, "I have tried to prove" which also annoyed me (221).  I thought, well if you're that unconfident about it, why should I give any credit to what you just said?  However, Paris emulates his opinion that the implied athor is not god through pointing out his own fallibility.

Because I am presenting on this article, I decided to create an outline of the article to help both the listeners and myself better understand Paris's article.  Check out My Outline for the Presentation of "The Uses of Psychology" 

In her blog, Greta raises some really good questions.  I tried to explain what I thought Paris would want us to get out of his article.  Also check out Greta's blog about Donovan's article.  She makes astute connections between Donovan's article and Paris's.  I also put my own two cents into it as well. 

Derek also raises good questions.  I commented on his blog about Batman and mimetic criticism.  Here I also explain why I chose to do this article if you were curious.

In fact, I responded to all of the entries because I wanted to make sure I knew what people were thinking about the article.  Check out the course webpage (I've linked it below) to see more. 

What do you think about the structural support he provides to uphold his argument?  Do you see mimesis connecting with any other kind of criticism besides historical?

Course webpage 

The Early Bird Gets the Worm (Hopefully)

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From Keesey's Contexts for Criticism:

"A related problem, how to reconcile the poem's formal coherence with its mimetic function, is also made more difficult" (211).

"Thus, the opposition between artistic design and imitative accuracy troubles virtually all mimetic theories, and it especially troubles those with an empirical basis" (211).

I chose these two quotes because they are closely related.  The word empirical links you to dictionary.reference.com in case you don't know what empirical means (I didn't).

What I basically get out of these two quotes is that by adhering to literary/poetic structures and techniques the mimetic value is damaged for it is not life-like.  For example, if I were to write a sonnet about my love for my boyfriend it would be difficult critique for someone who wanted to look at it mimetically.  Of course, someone who has never been in love, or someone who has, could analyze my poem to see if my discriptions were realistic to real love.  They would, however, run into a problem when it comes to the fact that it was a sonnet.  If I were to just have a conversation about my feelings, that would be real, but nobody (I feel it's pretty safe to say) talks in sonnets.  Because I used an unrealistic poetic form to represent something that is real, it would be contradictory.  But aren't there always literary devices in literature (at least if you, as an English major, and you're digging to find it)?    

Can you still use mimetic criticism to look at a love sonnet or is it too flawed?  If you can't, what is safe to critique mimetically?

Go back to the course webpage

And The Oscar Goes To...

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From "A Map for Rereading: Or, Gender and the Interpretation of Literary Texts" by Annette Kolodny in Keesey's Contexts for Criticism:

"Charlotte Perkins Gilman's initial difficulty in seeing 'The Yellow Wallpaper' into print repeated the problem, albeit in a somewhat different context: for her story located itself not as any deviation from a previous tradition of women's fiction but, instead, as a continuation of a genre popularized by Poe" (197).

So...to be honest,  I'm watching the Oscars.  So if something doesn't quite add up, that's why.  Anyway, when I saw that Kolodny likened Gilman's story to Poe's stories I was shocked!  I couldn't believe that I didn't think of this one myself and yet was like, "...huh, I guess so."  Poe is one of my favorite authors...EVER!  If Poe were at the Oscars, he would win Best Story (my equivalent to Best Picture).  Gilman does the same thing with her speaker that Poe does with his narrators.  It is interesting to think of Gilman as an extension of Poe, only from a woman's perspective.  I think that the inability to truly acknowledge women in the literary canon today still exists.  I think the fact that I never thought of Gilman's piece as very similar to Poe's works shows the fact that women and men are often not seen as equivalents in literature.  I can honestly say that in high school, I can only remember one novel we were required to read by a woman (ok, two, but Ethan Frome doesn't count and would win my Oscar for Worst Story, if they were to give awards for such things) and that would be To Kill a Mockingbird.  It is a shame that that is the only novel I can recall.  Of course, there were sappy, symbolic poems by Emily Dickinson, but is that all there really is? 

What woman's novels/works did you read in high school?  Do you think that there should be more books by women in the canon? 

Back to the course page.  


O'Connell's Objective

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From O'Connell's "Narrative Collusion and Pcclusion in Melville's 'Benito Cereno'" in Keesey's Contexts for Criticism:

"My interest is in showing how this manipulation of the reader is accomplished and suggesting a theory as to why, at this particular moment in political and literary history, such an approach was both available and effective" (188).

I really liked O'Connell's essay for a number of reasons.  The above statement has a big part in it.  I don't know if other essays didn't have statements like this one or if I wasn't paying close enough attention, but this essay had a clear thesis (if you want to call it that being that it appears on the third page of the essay) or as I called it, his goal statement.  I was interested in seeing, at the end of this essay, if he was able to show me his theory and prove it as both available and effective.  He did a bang up job.

He made his work "availlable," as some argue, in response to Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.  He contrasts Stowe's technique that "privileges the reader's emotions" by structuring emotions of "self-congratulatory complacency and dehumanizing condescension" (192).  I didn't initially understand what O'Connell meant because I've never read Stowe's book.  After reading wikipedia's plot summary, I was enlightened to the fact that Stowe's technique is more outright.  Her content is specifically emotionally touching, whereas, Melville appeals to the reader's emotion by making all his characters very flawed.  His white characters are all racist, which our society, the "ideal reader's" society, would look down upon.  Delano is portrayed as stupid and Benito as a little crazy.  His black society is also a bit ruthless, somewhat out of necessity though.  It isn't that the reader does not feel bad for them, it just isn't the same kind of emotions that Stowe plays with.  He plays more with skepticism.  Just as Captain Delano is skeptical of Don Cereno's intentions, the reader is meant to feel skeptical of Delano, Cereno, and pretty much everyone else.

The availability and the "effectiveness," as our different types of criticism, overlap.  Melville is effective basically because he appeals to a different audience.  He appeals to the general populace because a reader at his time could have read his text as either for or against slavery (historical criticism).  Stowe's audience would have only appealed to the people that are into an antislavery message.  Melville can then be wider read and still get the chance to get his "ironic" point across. 

All that is left to address, then, is his "theory."  In short, his theory was to comment on "the North American conscience" at the time.  He wanted to point out subtle injustices in a different way than Stowe.  I will even go one step further than O'Connell in suggesting that "Benito Cereno" could possibly even send the readers at the time, even the ones who were strong supporters of slavery, subliminal messages about the injustices of slavery.  If you look at it from O'Connell's perspective, although he never explicitly says this, the slaves basically do what they have to to ensure their own freedom, something that almost anyone would fight for.  Think of the early Americans under British rule.  Unfair laws were placed on them and so they rose up, hence the Revolutionary War.  This story is no longer a story of slavery, it is a story of inprisonment agains one's will.  The blacks were prisoners, then they turned the tables making the Spaniards prisoners.  In the end, the blacks were prisoners again.  Both sides do what it takes to be in control of the situation, can you really blame them?

Enough of me talking, what do you think?  Do you agree with O'Connell?   

Back to the homepage.

What Would You Do If You Were In Delano's Shoes?

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From Herman Melville's "Benito Cereno" in Keesey's Contexts for Criticism:

"Here he paused; his hand to his head, as if there were a swimming there, or a sudden bewilderment of memory had come over him; but meeting his servant's kindly glance seemed reassured, and preceeded..." (498).

This is the part when I caught on to the fact that something fishy (no pun intended) was going on.  I was tipped off because Don Benito hesitated before he answered the question, met the "servant's" glance, and then preceeded. 

What I found so weird was the fact that Captain Delano kept having these suspicions about Benito and the ship, but he stayed.  He was wrong about Benito but was right to be suspicious.

Instead of a normal question, I'll ask a fun, hypothetical question.  Put yourself in Delano's shoes.  What would you have done when you saw the broken down ship?  Would you have gone or would you have stayed on your own ship and let them be?  Would you have given your supplies to the ship?  Write a short synopsis of your own take of Melville's story.

Subjective, Objective, Which Is Which?

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In place of doing Hamilton, I decided that I needed to clarify the difference between subjectivity and objectivity because I got confused when I read Keesey's introduction to Chapter 3 when he mentioned them on pages 136-7.  (If you don't like my definitions, click on the hyperlinked words.  That'll take you to dictionary.com's results for these words, which is pretty much where I got my definitions from.)

When something is objective it is not influenced by personal feelings.  Something that is objective is, as I see it, self-contained.  It is what it is and it is not up for interpretation.  I guess that you could say that math is objective because there are clear right and wrong answers.  An objective question would be what is y in the equation 2y+1=5.  (The answer is two in case you were wondering.)

When something is subjective it is influenced by personal feelings.  A lot of short answer questions on tests would be subjective.  A subjective question would be, "Was Hamlet mad?" because evidence can be found supporting both sides, so it is up to the reader to make that decision himself.

To keep the two straight, I think of school.  There are many subjects in high school.  There isn't just one, just like there is not just one right answer.  Objects are more self contained.  My computer is an object.  I could not make a logical argument that it is anything but a computer, although it can perform the tasks of many other objects.

I hope that helped! 

Course webpage  


My Second Crack at Trying to Understand Reader-Response

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For this blog, I couldn't just pick one quote, but instead two series of quotes.  I think that this article held so much useful information that it is important to pause on it a bit longer than some of the other articles.

From Wolfgang Iser's article "Readers and the Concept of the Implied Reader" which appears in Keesey's Contexts for Criticism:

1) "The ideal reader, unlike the contemporary reader, is a purely fictional being; he has no basis in reality, and it is this very fact that makes him so useful: as a fictional being, he can close the gaps that constantly appear in any analysis of literary effects and responses" (142).

This first quote made me think of the earlier quote that said, "Although the critic's judgement may well have been honed and refined by the many texts he has dealt with, he remains nothing more than a cultured reader--if only because an ideal reader is a structural impossibility as far as literary communication is concerned" (141-42).  After reading the quote that appears on 141 and continues on to 142, I wrote that the idea reader is a literary myth like a minotaur or unicorn.  Then when I read the quote that said the ideal reader is "a fictional being" I had to laugh out loud.  I guess that reader-response is a bit of a fictional entity itself because it depends upon something that does not really exist.  The best we can do then is to construct our own "best" representation of that ideal reader by using the "different perspectives represented in the text, the vantage point from which he joins them together, and the meeting place where they converge" (145).  The meeting place is the "meaning of the text" which is what we are striving to get.  This leads me into my second quotation.

2) "The reason for this is that although the textual perspectives themselves are given, their gradual convergence and final meeting place are not linguistically formulated and so have to be imagined" (146). 

My note in the margin says, "Great!" because it means more guess-work for the reader.  I guess that we need to look at the ideas from 145 to create a kind of simulation.  This simulation is then what reader-sesponse is all about.  I think I may get it, but I'm not so sure that I'll be able to do it myself.  I guess I'll see in a few days when I write my paper.For further help in understanding reader-response click here.  This site really helped me to see that a lot of reader-response is psychological, which I should like because I love trying to read people.

I guess I kind of answered my own question with this entry.

The course webpage will open your mind to more reader-response possibilities.

I'd Be Willing To Bet That There Is No Real Answer.

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From Contexts for Criticism by Keesey:

"But they agree on one main point: since the "poem" exists only when the reader (however defined) encounters the text, literary criticism must focus on that encounter" (138).

So, from this chapter I learned that reader-response critics believe that a poem only exists when it is read.  It is kind of like the whole "If a tree falls in the forest thing."  If you don't hear it, then it may not even fall at all.  I think that this outlook is a little egocentric, but that's me.  However, I am the reader...and that's my response. lol

Anyway, I get the idea, although I may be wrong, that reader-response is like literature in general.  It can kind of move and be what you want it to be.  Some reader-response critics believe that the reader needs to be the "implied reader" and not the "actual reader."  What I get from that is that we need to look beyond our own lives and try to see what others, in our time, would see if they read the poem.  But what I have a difficult time understanding is how do we know that we separated ourselves enough from our interpretations?  I mean, we're all bias right?  As much as I try to get away from me, I just can't get rid of me.  It's annoying.  Just kidding.  So it seems that yet again, the answer is that there is no answer.  But I'm beginning to see that this is alright.  As long as I kind of know what I'm doing and I make a good argument, I can never be (completely) wrong.  Oh what difference one little word can make.

  • What do you think reader-response is?
  • What is it not?  (What distinguishes it from other types of criticisms?


Oh and if you're curious to know the key to reader-response, click here.  It is one of my other blogs from this week in which I get more specific about reader-response.  It may help your understanding.

The Horror House at the Carnival

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From "The Dead" by James Joyce in Dubliners:

"His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the decent of their last end,  upon all the living and the dead" (225).

When I read this sentence for the first time, I was struck by the repetition and the alliteration.  The formalist/structuralist/general literary critic in me would comment, what function does this serve?  Why would Joyce choose his words so carefully?

I think a good place to start would be to see where this sentence appears.  It is the very last line in the story.  It is the wrap up really, the thing that gets to tie the loose ends together. 

 "Soul swooned slowly" is not easy to say.  Say it aloud.  You have to read these words with careful attention and slower than the rest of the text.  This, in itself, reflects the point of the alliteration.  As Gabriel's soul is slowly swooning, the reader must take a pause of his/her own in order to not get tongue tied.  I would argue that all the alliteration together just draws attention to the sentence itself because it is the unifying sentence in the work.  The snow falls "through the universe" showing that everyone will encounter the struggle with death.  Those that are alive and dead both have snow falling on them.  The issue of life and death is universal and cannot be escaped.

The snow that is "falling faintly" could also be interpreted as a metaphor for humanity.  There are so many lives and everyone will eventually take the fall and die, but in a cosmic view, their death will not be felt so much, it is faint.  It seems like a sort of encoded message to do as Michael Furey did which is to not fall faintly. He is not forgotten and still lives on through Gretta's memory, and now Gabriel's.

  • What do you think about the sentence in general? 
  • What about the alliteration? 
  • Do you agree with me or do you think that I am totally off?

To read more on Joyce's The Dead, click here for Derek's kick off of the discussion or here for Greta's wrap-up!

Portfolio 1- Gosh...Are We a Third of the Way Done Already?

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   How time has passed.  I have compiled a list of blogs that you should check out.  They're in neat little categories so that they are easy to go through and you can easily find something that may interest you.

   I guess that now's the time when I should say what I've learned from this whole experience thus far.  I would honestly like to say that I do like to blog, but maybe not as much as we do.  I feel that my blog entries would have better quality if there weren't so many of them.  It is fun to see what other people write and write my own entries, especially when the spirit moves me.  I work really hard on my classes in general.  I think that blogging and doing all the readings have made me into a better writer.  Sometimes, after I read a work, I can't wait to blog about it.  Other times, I just want to skip the whole blogging experience and watch TV or go to bed.  I have also learned that it is impossible sometimes to get everything done.  I have sacrificed a lot in the efforts to do well in this class including free time, my health (I eat sometimes while I write and I cannot go to the gym), and sometimes my other work. 

Often times, I also try to make my blog a teaching experience.  I take a good deal of time trying to put things in terms that I think will help my peers understand better.  Without further ado, here is my first list of blog entries...Enjoy!



  • Mortality Squares Off with Immortality...And the Winner Is!? is a long, critical analysis of "Ode on a Grecian Urn."  I just got going with this one and couldn't stop.  It would be an example of what I talked about in the intro, me really having a lot to say and being excited to write about it.
  • Mother was Right Again...You Need to Get Your Sleep! shows how I am able to analyze a text on my blog.  I make some pretty interesting points in this one.
  • A Contradiction? allows me to demonstrate my ability to look at a critic with a critical eye.  I also reference other webpages a few times in order to clarify (for myself and the reader) what certain terms are.
  • My Second Crack at Trying to Understand Reader-Response gives my own in depth analysis of reader-response.  It also links you to another webpage for further understanding.  I also link back to my one of my other blogs because I kind of answer my own question.  In fact, I link both of these blogs together to help my reader.
  • Subjective, Objective, Which Is Which? is not a very long blog, but it demonstrates my ability to put things in simplier terms and make things relatable.  I believe strongly in word association.  If you can look within a word and find a connection with another word that will unlock the meaning for you, great!  I try to use this a lot or create analogies or metaphors.  I think this makes the subject more personal.
  • O'Connor's Objective clearly picks apart O'Connor's essay and raises new questions.  I wrote it because I think that O'Connor's essay is well organized and well written.  I know that everyone in the class will not always understand every essay so I used it as a reference point for them.  People who understood it, however, can still get a lot out of this entry because I make some new claims and try to think of it in a way that is outside of myself and more towards the mythical "ideal reader."

Blog Carnival Entry


  • Derek's Blog- I really love Derek's blog.  He always has good things to say and always tries to pose a question at the end of each entry to get others to think and respond back.  I think that my comment on this one is especially insightful in how to begin to critique literature and my personal style in doing this.

  • This is an example of me trying to explain a concept to one of my peers that she could not understand.  I attempt to explain to Katie how the urn is both above and below language.  I get pretty philosophical (at least for me) and I am pretty proud of myself for it.

  • AllofMyClassesAreRunningTogether. demonstrates me asking a question and when my reader did not know the answer, I answered her.


  • The Formalities of Formalism is a blog that I used an analogy to help me understand a concept.  It seems to have helped my peers as well for they had positive comments about it.
  • Metonymy and the Steelers shows my ability to take something I learned and apply it to what is pertinent to my life at the time.  It also seemed to assist my peers with understanding the term metonymy.  (I guess that this one may even qualify as depth because I sadly had to research the exact date of the Super Bowl.)
  • In the Left Corner, Weighing 200 Pounds, is T.S. Eliot! sparks an interesting discussion about what poetry actually is.  I also take a stand on the poem "The Red Wheelbarrow" which I later refute in a paper and on Kayley's blog.  (Dr. Jerz...Here you can really see how I've grown and am continuing to grow as a result of blogging, the casebook, and your class in general.  As much as I hate to admit it sometimes, thanks.)
  • Future Students Beware for I Now Hold the Ace in the Hole! draws attention to a few sentences that I think will be very useful to me against my future students who question why they have to study poetry (As Dr. Jerz pointed out I didjust last year.  lol.  I did too.  I won't even deny it.  Yet another way I have grown).  I got a pretty good reaction out of my readers! 


  • What's That Mean Again? as ALL my blogs, this one was turned in on time.  I'm only going to put one in this section, but they all really belong in this section.


  • Kayley's blog, Complex or simple? which is better?, makes the reader question Keesey's assessment of poetry.  I really enjoy seeing people disagree with the text because it shows that they are not afraid to challenge something that someone else may just accept as fact.  I added to Kayley's disagreement and seemingly inspired others to look at "simple texts" more closely for they are not as simple as they seem.  (The Comment Informative/The Comment Grande)
  • An Insult to Keats! talks about Kent's poor word choice and bad insinuations.  I promote Marra's blog here and provide a link to it because she commented that her blog was similar.  I also took time to comment on her blog for some extra fun!  She has a really good conversation going on her blog.  Check it out. (Link Gracious)
  • A Reader Must Stay on Course is a thoughtful exchange between Derek and I.  I was the first to comment on his blog and have been going back and making comments on it to keep the conversation flowing. (Comment Primo)


  • Ode to the "Ode" is an extra blog entry that I created for fun.  It's a sappy love poem that I created for my boyfriend for Valentine's Day.  I think that this blog will show you that I do like to blog and that even when I'm not doing English and writing, well I'm doing English and writing.  I even analyze song lyrics when I listen to my Ipod.

Funeraction-Everyone's doin' it!

  • So I've created my own category.  I call this one, funeraction.  This is just me having fun interacting with my peers and with the text.  I hope you like it.  This one takes place on Katie's Blog called Something a Little More Complete, which is about formalism.
  • Kayley's blog, Complex or simple? which is better?, makes the reader question Keesey's assessment of poetry.  I really enjoy seeing people disagree with the text because it shows that they are not afraid to challenge something that someone else may just accept as fact.  I added to Kayley's disagreement.
  • Wacky Wording: How Wording Can Change the Meaning of a Sentence shows me just having fun being an English major and picking apart language as a result of it.  Oh the ways I have fun anymore...lol.
  • Could It Be True!? may be one of my favorite short blogs.  I really liked how Keesey gave us a sort of formula of how to write a formalist critique.  I really liked my application of Where's Waldo.  It is even linked to an example of Where's Waldo.  Try to find him!
  • What Would You Do If You Were In Delano's Shoes? is a newer blog where I asked my peers to put themselves in Delano's shoes.  I wanted to spark a good conversation.

*This is my little end note.  Many of my blog entries overlap into other areas.  For example, my Carnival blog could also go under the Discussions section and my reactions to all my peers could probably fall under the Interaction sections.  If I put all these instances down, I'd never finish this.


An Insult to Keats!

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From "On the Third Stanza of Keats's 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'" by David Kent in Keesey's  Contexts for Criticism:

"Yet the repetition equally suggests a poverty or inadequacy in language itself, perhaps implying that the poet has reached the upper limits of his power to articulate his experience" (144).

Although I thought that the criticism was written displaying some skill, I think that it lacked in overall finesse.  He uses things that my 11th grade English teacher taught us to do like numbering his paragraphs.  On page 114, Kent starts both of his paragraphs on the left side of the page with numbers: "Secondly" and "Thirdly."  I'm pretty sure that if I turned in a paper using those words to transition my paragraphs, I would receive negative comments from my professors.  It is not very professional.

The next thing I want to point out is the best way to make an English major mad is to insult one of the greats.  I really like "Ode on a Grecian Urn" because I think that Keats's concept of freezing moments and describing them is brilliant.  When Kent said that it is possible "the poet has reached the upper limits of his power to articulate his experience" I gasped in horror.  Is he really trying to tell me that Keats did not know how to express his emotions so he just used the same word over and over?  Please.  Even if Keats knew no synonyms for the word "happy," he would simply avoid saying it multiple times.  It would be best if Kent had left this comment out for it angers the reader and is not important to his claim.  It seems that he only put it in as a filler, like he had some word count he had to meet and this sentence just put him within range.

Does this quote anger you?  What did you think about Kent's style?

Click here to read another angry blogger's (Marra Barreiro) response to the same quote.  There is a good conversation going on on her page.  Join in and give your input.

Course webpage


Future Students Beware for I Now Hold the Ace in the Hole!

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From "Irony as a Principle of Structure: by Cleanth Brooks in Keesey's Contexts for Criticism:

"The poet wants to 'say' something.  Why, then, doesn't he say it directly and forthrightly?  What is he willing to say it only through his metaphors?  Through his metaphors, he risks saying it partially and obscurely, and risks not saying it at all.  But the risk must be taken, for direct statement leads to abstraction and threatens to take us out of poetry altogether" (85).

   This is a very interesting statement.  I really like it as a person who is going to be a teacher.  I can just see it now, "Miss Palumbo, why do we have to read this crap?  He could have just said that in one sentence?"  Now I have a good comeback (since I'm not good at creating them on my own). 

   I wrote this short poem "Object"











   It would take the fun out of the poem if I came right out and said exacly what it was.  I'm sure the reader has a good idea of what it could be but there is a hint of ambiguity in there for there are a number of objects that could fit that description (hint: the answer is within the text).  That is the point of poetry.  It allows your mind to actively engage with the text.  If the answer was right there, it would be pointless.  Maybe that's why English never seems to give answers.

What do you think my object is and why?

Go back to the homepage.


Could It Be True!?

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From Contexts for Criticism by Donald Keesey:

"This concern for the wholeness of the poetic object is an important characteristic of formalism, for the goal of formal analysis is to show how the various elements in the poem fit together, how the parts cohere to produce the whole, and how our understanding of the whole conditions our understanding of the parts" (77).

   Do my eyes deceive me or do I see what resembles an answer!?  In English, it seems that we are presented more questions than answers.  Rarely can we say, "This is definitely the correct interpretation" because someone, as Dr. Jerz said, could easily shoot down our claim by just finding one flaw or counter example.  When I read this sentence, I was electrified.  It's not that I don't like the fact that I'm never completely wrong (although I don't like the fact that I'm never completely right either) but it was nice to see a formula of some sort.  Keesey might have said poetic devices+structure+word meanings as determine by the text=how the poem all fits together.  This gives me as a writer a finish line, something to strive toward instead of playing a giant game of "Where's Waldo" with my work (alliteration much?).  But in case you do want to play "Where's Waldo," here's an example of one of the puzzles.  I found him but he's a little hard to see.

What do you think about this quote?  How does it make you feel?

Back to the course webpage, please

So You Don't Make an Assonance of Yourself, Read This!

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Ok...I admit the title was a little corny, but I couldn't help myself.  I read this word in Eagleton's Literary Theory ("An individual word may relate to another word through assonance...") and couldn't help myself (89).  I also was using it in an assignment and saw it as an opportunity to double check myself in Essential Literary Terms to make sure I know what it means along with it's brother, consonance.

"Assonance is the repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds in nearby words or stressed syllables: 'right/time,' 'sad/fact,' 'seven/elves'" (Hamilton 220).

"Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in two or more successive words or stressed syllables that contain different vowel sounds: 'had/hid,' 'wonder/wander,' 'haven/heaven'" (219).

So assonance would be like "Awesome Audrey" or "Apple Jacks" because the vowel sounds are the same.

An example of consonance would be "bat/bit" or "pants/pints" because the consonant sounds are the same but the vowel sounds differ.

Can you think of any examples of assonance or consonance?

A Contradiction?

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From Literary Theory by Terry Eagleton:

"Literature is not a way of knowing reality but kind of collective utopian dreaming which has gone on throughout history, an expression of those fundamental human desires which have given rise to civilization itself, but which are never fully satisfied there" (80).

   I thought that this quote was very interesting, not to mention helpful to my understanding of literature (or was it?).  I have difficulty with not looking at a piece of literature as though it was the real world.  For example, when I read Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger I had a hard time not relating it to real life, people I knew, etc.  But Wittlinger intended the book as a companion to young adults who are having difficulty with their identities, parents, sexuality, and many other issues.  Everything she used, although it existed within a strictly fantasy universe, could have happened and has happened.  What I'm getting at is my own issues with drawing parallels between a piece of literature and my life in papers.  What I get out of this quote is that it is ok to relate to what you're reading because it is human nature, but you have to remember that although it may be modeled off of real life, it isn't real life and thus it cannot impact us.

I'm not so sure whether or not I agree with that, if that is what Eagleton is trying to say.  Upton Sinclair who wrote The Jungle to improve the meat packing industry and working conditions.  His literature eventually did impact real life.  His novel jumped off of the pages and helped working conditions and helped popularize muckraking (type of journalism that digs for injustices and points them out to society).  I'm not so sure this is what Eagleton was trying to prove, but I'm just trying to understand.  Eagleton even makes, what I see as a contradiction by saying, "Structuralism and phenomenology, dissimilar though they are in central ways, both spring from the ironic act of shutting out the material world in order the better to illuminate our consciousness of it" (95).  To me, this says that we can learn about real life through literature.  I guess that maybe what Eagleton's stance on this may be similar to his definition of "literature" which is basically that it is constantly changing and almost impossible to pinpoint. 

What do you think?  Can you learn about life through literature?  Do you ever write about this in your papers?

Ok...enough of this.  I'm going back to the course webpage.

Ode to the "Ode"

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When I read "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats, I decided that I really liked the style and how it immortalized moments in time.  I was inspired to write a poem of my own in the style of Keats.  I wrote it for my boyfriend for Valentine's Day.  It isn't my best but I thought that it was most appropriate due to the timing and our course content.  I hope you like it.  And if you have any suggestions or you see something you like, tell me!  I’d like to know how I could improve when I write poems in the future.  Spoiler alert!  It is a little mushy so if you don’t want to read it, stop here!



Two young people stand

Hand in hand

Bodies brushing

Feeling the warmth emanating off of each other’s skin.


Both so content

As indicated through the twinkle in their eyes,

The sweet and soft expressions on their countenances.

But this shared spark happens to be only one of the things they have in common.

The connection is beyond mere sexual attraction,

It is more like an infinite inseparability of the souls.


Feelings a…




…captured in time

Both eternal.


by Angela Palumbo


So THIS is How History Ties In?!

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From "Shakespeare and the Idea of Obedience: Gonzalo in The Tempest" by Paul Yachnin in Contexts for Criticism by Keesey:

"Once we realise that Gonzalo is guilty of complicity in Prospero's overthrow, that he obeyed Alonso's command to cast Prospero and Miranda adrift...From Prospero's viewpoint, Gonzalo's obedience  to his master (even thoug it has entailed Prospero's suffering and near-death) is praiseworthy because political obedience guarantees the stability of government.  Prospero's own experience with disobedient and treacherous subjects (Antonio and Caliban) underlies his praise of Gonzalo..." (42)

Seen in the historical context of Shakespeare's time period (with the problems in the church and loyalties being important with people trying to kill the Queen of England) loyalty would have been a giant issue.  People probably knew of the issues and when they went to see The Tempest, they would have probably picked up on the admiration of Prospero for Gonzalo.  Gonzalo was indeed loyal to his master's request, even though he probably knew it wasn't right, but he did it anyhow.  Prospero was probably thinking, "Why can't I get servants like this?"  This obedience that Gonzalo had by following Alonso's orders reflects the kind of "political obedience" that would be admired in the time of William Shakespeare.

I guess that my verdict on using history to criticize is that I think it seems to have its place.  Yachnin found a great example of how to apply the text to history.  I just hope that when it's my turn, I'll be able to find something as relevant.

Course webpage, please!


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From "Are Poems Historical Acts?" by Geprge Watson in Contexts for Criticism by Keesey:

"The oddities of Thomas's diction exist only in relation to mid-twentieth-century usages outside his poems.  If we are anxious to pretend that poems could ever 'exist independently of the author's intentions,' we had better banish all idea of the norm" (32).

Although I do not completely buy the historical context argument, I do really love Watson's point here.  It is very true that in order to assess the uniqueness and style of an author, it is necessary to look at historical context.  Did that author always write in extended metaphors?  No?  Then why is it significant in this work?  Or possibly, other authors during a particular author's time mainly wrote free verse.  What would then be the significance of writing in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet?  Dr. Patterson brought this point up about Claude McKay who was an African American writer during the Harlem Renaissance.  She wanted to know what the significance was of him using a sonnet form for a poem about lynching.  It creates a completely different effect, that's for sure.

What do you think the reason is behind McKay choosing to write a poem about lynching in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet?

Course webpage

It's the Sentence that Never Ends

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From "Reading The Tempest" by Russ McDonald in Contexts for Criticism by Donald Keesey:

"The hieratic style suggested by Prospero's repetitions is clearly appropriate to his vatic persona and elegiac frame of mind, it is a commonplace that some of his poetically knotted reiterations attest to his agitation at narratively re-creating his deposition, and Caliban's exultant 'Freedom, high-day!  High-day, freedom.  Freedom, high-day, freedom!' ironically establishes his persona entrapment, his exchange of one master for another" (McDonald 105).

Did you ever notice that when people are trying to sound intellegent they forget the basic rules of grammar?  I do sometimes.  I can't even believe how l-o-n-g this sentence is.  You would think that his editors would have decided to at least put in a semicolon.  I challenge anyone who reads this to go back to the sentence about and read it in one breath.  My bet is that you cannot do it.  I tried and practically passed out and still didn't make it through.

However, I do like how McDonald points out that Shakespeare perfectly aligned his character with his character's actions, with the way that his character spoke.  It's classic.  McDonald is definately on to a good observation.

Did anyone else find McDonald long-winded and convoluted?  Why?  Do you have any examples?  Or did you find it easy to understand?

Navigate back to the home page.  

From Contexts for Criticism by Donald Keesey:

1)  "We may have no documentary evidence about Shakespeare's school days, but we can find out a good deal about what was studied and how in the schools available to someone of his age and station" (10).

2)  "Even if we could discover what many or most Elizabethans believed about ghosts, and even if it turned out that they believed much the same things, we still wouldn't necessarily know what Shakespeare thought about the subject or what he might have meant in Hamlet, unless, that is, we were willing to assume that Shakespeare was a typicla Elizabethan or that he expressed only typical beliefs in his plays" (13).

It is incredibly interesting how if you put a point one way it can seem to make sense and if it's put another way, it just seems stupid.  The first statement points out the lack of information about Shakespeare but how "we can find out a good deal" about the social conditions at the time and apply it to him because he existed at this time.  This explanation seems very linear.  It basically says that because they don't know that much about Shakespeare, the best they can do is study when he lived and make educated approximations about him from that.  It is put more gently than that though so it is not so obvious that it's all a guess.  The second explanation of the same topic, however, seems less effective.  It travels around and states it in such a way that reader has to say, "Huh?  But that's just silly."  It is contradictory to today's culture because we are just assuming, and what did you parents tell you about assumptions? (I don't wanna say it!  I don't wanna SAY it!.)  Thank you Stewart, but that's enough.

The second way makes the point that you're just making a generalization about the author more apparent and in turn, more disturbing.  You can never be sure about what the author (in which there are no records about) actually experienced, thought, or was truly writing about, by just studying the people at the time.  That would be like coming to America, going into a McDonald's, and automatically assuming that ALL Americans are fat.  It just doesn't work that way.

Go back to see what others had to say!

(P.S.- No hate blogging please.  I didn't mean that all people who eat at McDonalds are fat.)  

The Tempest that is Life

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From Shakespeare's The Tempest:

"Now my charms are all o'erthrown/ And what strength I have's mine own,/ Which is most faint (Shakespeare Epilogue).

I feel so much like Prospero.  He has decided to give up the control and submit to the way things have to be.  I know it has to be hard, realizing that you are at the mercy of the natural forces of others, time, and so forth.  He's no longer going to play the hand of God, he'll instead have to trust fate to get him through.  He knows, however, that his daughter is getting married which will help him sleep easier.

You can continue to read (warning: it's just me whining) or go back to the course webpage to see what others have to say.

So...I've pretty much decided that I'm going to dedicate this blog to feeling rather emo in this point in my life.  I don't watch TV anymore (partially because I have night class every night but Friday forcing me to miss "The Big Bang Theory" and "Smallville" on Mondays and Thursdays.)  I didn't mind at first because I thought I would just watch them online...no biggie.  Well I'm sad to say that I don't have time to speak to my roommates let alone go on a website and watch television shows.  My whole life is consumed with reading because it seems like the majority of my professors feel that their class should be my top priority.  What does one do when there is so much work and no time to do it?  How do you know what to cut?  Should I cut work?  Soccer?  Both of those things get me money that I really need, so what?  I can't opt to drop classes if I want to graduate in time...  I can't get much more honest than this.  I had to get it out of my system.  Thanks to reading/listening to me if you finished reading this.  If not, you didn't miss much so don't worry.

The Logic in Author's Intent

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From Keesey's Contexts for Criticism article titled "Objective Interpretation":

"It is necessary to establish that the context invoked is the most probable context" (Hirsch 25).

I picked this quote because Hirsch found it important enough to italicize.  According to him, it seems that in order to effectively do a criticism based on the author's intent, it is necessary to use logic.  The critic needs to establish two or more ways a work can be read and then prove why one is most likely wrong and the other is most likely right based on context clues left by the author.

This technique, like any other, is not definate.  I love to see all these authors squabble which way is the "best" way to critique a work.  Honestly, they all seem to overlap somewhat.  There does not have to be just ONE way to do a criticism.  That is the purpose of this class: to be exposed to multiple ways of viewing a work and seeing which one best suits you.  Epiphany recieved.  Thanks Seton Hill!

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What's That Mean Again?

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From Keesey's Contexts for Criticism:

"The paradox reflects the peculiar nature of coherence, which is not an absolute, but a dependent quality" (Hirsch 24).

This is one of those words that no matter how many times I look it up, never sinks in.  I think that it is because it is so hard to find an example of a paradox in a text because it requires deep thought, and it isn't in neon lights or anything to draw your attention to it.  A paradox is "a trope in which a statement that appears on the surface to be contradictory or impossible turns out to express an often striking truth" (Hamilton 56).

What I did notice, however, while looking up this word for about the thousandth time is that the word right after it, oxymoron, is a term that I can use and am comfortable with.  That word is oxymoron.  As I see it, the oxymoron is the child of the paradox.  I can remember this because they both have "x"s in their names!  Anyway, the definition of oxymoron is "a compressed PARADOX that closely links two seemingly contrary elements in a way that, on further consideration, turns out to make good sense" (Hamilton 57).

First, I have to point out a little picky English thing.  Why does Hamilton have to say "good sense?"  Would you ever say something makes "bad sense?"  Ok.  Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I can move on to my point.  An oxymoron is a baby paradox.  Finding a paradox, is difficult to do but by George, I think I may have found one!  I believe, although I have been known to be wrong before, that this sentence from "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a paradox: "John is a physician, and perhaps...that is one reason I do not get well faster" (531).  You would think that this doesn't make sense because you'd think a doctor's wife would get all the best treatments.  However, because her disease is of the mind and there seems to be relatively little known about the symptoms and severity of postpartum depression (the story was originally published in 1892), her husband would not be able to do much for her, and even seems to push aside her concerns (531).

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