My Outline for the Presentation of "The Uses of Psychology"

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     I thought that it would be nice if I posted my notes for my presentation on Thursday just in case anyone wants to know approximately what I want to say or someone misses class.  This is basically what I plan to use to teach the class all about Bernard Paris's "The Uses of Psychology."  As you'll be able to see when you read it, the outline is a mixture of other critics' thoughts on mimetic criticism and realism, Paris's ideas about mimetic criticism, and my own ways of explaining what Paris or the other critics meant.  If you have any comments or suggestions to give me before I present, please let me know what you think.  Thanks


Presentation Outline for “The Uses of Psychology” by Bernard Paris

      I.        Historical Build-up

a.    Norman Holland

                                          i.    Psychology- does not pertain to literature, but mind of

1.    Author

2.    Character

3.    Audience

a.    Paris believes there are two kinds of minds: minds of implied authors (author solely based on the work) and leading characters

                                        ii.    Character study useful only when applied to analysis of audience’s mind

b.    W.J.Harvey

                                          i.    Opposes Holland- “retreat from character” - unfortunate because “most great novels exist to reveal and explore character”

    II.        Paris’s claim

a.    “Characters in fiction participate in dramatic and thematic structures” (216)

                                          i.    Dramatic- Character’s interaction with the plot

                                        ii.    Thematic- Character’s function in filling out “the theme”

1.    Meaning of behavior- understood by function in structures

b.     Acknowledgement that some characters are stock: stands for something

c.    Main claim- Sometimes “it is proper to treat literary characters as real people and that only by doing so can we fully appreciate the distinctive achievement of the genre”(217).

d.    Primary values of fiction

                                          i.    Mimetic- “representation;” how well it represents real life

1.    Novel- Better character development lets us in to psyche a.k.a. “Native Son”

2.    “Problematic existential view”- Why are we here?  And bigger life questions making more human.

3.    Realistic fiction deals with

a.    Character- Development of main character such as Bigger who murders one white person who is nice to him.  Why?  Actions are intriguing and able to be looked at.

b.    Social Milieu- Interaction, culture, and social position.  Bigger was a servant.  His interaction with the girl he killed is interesting because it’s different in a good way, yet he lashed out and killed her.

                                        ii.    Thematic- “interpretation;” what the reader learns

1.    Moral fable- More focus on “significance” a.k.a. “The Ugly Duckling”

2.    “Classic moralistic perspective”- Characters are stock characters as in “Animal Farm”

                                       iii.    Formal- “aesthetic patterning of experience;” structure, mechanics, etc.

e.    History’s role (218)

                                          i.    Sets background for characters and allows reader to sympathize

                                        ii.    Notice the use of historicism in the development of Paris’s essay

f.     Dilemma of the Realistic Novelist

                                          i.    Georg Lukacs- “No writer is a true realist—or even a truly good writer, if he can direct the evolution of his own characters at will” (219).

                                        ii.    E.M.Forster- Basically, the characters that are given complete free reign to develop independent of the author “subvert the main scheme of the book”- In order for a book to be realistic, things cannot happen ideally.  As life, there needs to be twists and turns.  I would describe this as the author is the parent and character is the rebellious child.  The parents know what needs to happen and the child eventually gets it but that child buck the parent the whole way.

g.    Types of characters (Robert Scholes and Robert Kellogg pg 220)

                                          i.    Aesthetic- Villains create formal patterns but lack depth

                                        ii.    Illustrative-  Pertain to classical moralistic perspective works.  Stand for something but aren’t much on their own. 

1.    Only “fragments of human psyche”

                                       iii.    Mimetic- Characters more gray (rather than black or white) as to be life-like.

h.    Goes back to first claim about studying and looking into the mind of

                                          i.    Character- If they’re realistic, we can look at them.

1.    Immerse ourselves in their reality by “adopt[ing] his perspective and experience[ing] his feelings as though they were our own” (221)- Be that homicidal maniac

                                        ii.    “Implied author”- Character and story “influenced by [the author’s] own neuroses” (220)  a.k.a. They give characters and plot analyzable characteristics because so much self seeps into work.

1.    Interpreter of work

2.    Paris said that he, in himself, is a “fictional persona” because we see the inside of his mind and his experiences.  He, too, is flawed and thus able to be mimetically analyzed.

   III.        Finishing points

a.    Pg. 222 Basically “Formalism NO!...Mimetic criticism Yes!  What is pertinent to humanity is not the form, but rather the experience.

b.    Points out flaws in author intent by acknowledging that

                                          i.    All of author that exists within a work is what is said

                                        ii.    Author is flawed, not some god.  Even points out own fallibility pg 221 “I have tried to show…”

c.    Also ties in reader-response being important to meaning of work.  We respond by immersing ourselves in the story, becoming one with the character.  We understand them as a real person and can, because of this, mimetically critique them.

If you have any questions about my outline don't hesitate to ask!

For further information about Paris's article as explained by me, click here.

To go back to the course webpage click here.


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