January 2009 Archives

English: A Gender Bias Profession or Degree


"The rise of English in England ran parallel to the gradual, grudging admission of women to the institutions of higher education; and since English was an untaxing sort of affair, concerned with the finer feelings rather than the more virile topics of bona fide academic 'disciplines', ot seemed a convenient sort of non-subject to palm off on the ladies, who were in any case excluded from science and the professions" (Eagleton 24).

This quote stood out to me like a sore thumb! This quote seems to hold true, in a limited sense, throughout current history. For example, most of my English classes at Seton Hill are mostly dominated by females. This may only be because Seton Hill was, once, a female only school or because males usually do not study English-literature. Males tend to usually study Science or Math because it is a so-called “manly” subject. I do not believe that this is true. I think that any subject studied in post-secondary schools is appropriate for both genders.

While reading, I made the assumption that early-modern history was sexist. Do you think that based on the quote above? Our culture has grown and developed strong stereotypes. This can be seen, for example, with all of the previous elected Presidents. There has not been a woman elected President, ever. This may change in the coming elections, but it makes you wonder why society demotes one gender over another in certain professions or situations.

As history has changed, the idea of females studying English has changed. It seems that there are more and more males pursuing an English career. Personally, I believe that an English degree can take anyone past their goals as long as they strive for it. Our everyday society uses the English language to communicate crucial information.

For example:

"If human existence is constituted by time, it is equally made up of language" (Eagleton 55).

Language is the beginning step to a culture developing and turning into a successful nation. Every human, each and every day uses language in some shape or form.

Eagleton makes many interesting points about how the English language and literature has developed through history.

Course web page devoted to Eagleton

Verbal vs. Textual Understanding


"'The meaning of a word sequence is directly imposed by the public norms of language, that the test as a 'piece of language' is a public object whose character is defined by public norms'" (Hirsch 19).

When reading a poem or story, most people usually interpret the text in different ways. This may include relating to the text through emotion or simply connecting with the text based on the author’s writing style. Hirsch states a very complex issue about "textual meaning." If word sequence relates to the norms of a language, then it seems as though the author did this intentionally.

There are so many ways to understand what a text means, but many cultural influences affect that reading. While reading this text, I wondered how other countries or cultures understand a piece of literature that is designed for a specific "public norm." It seems that, as a reader, we may not ever fully understand or know what the author's intent was.

Hirsch mentioned the verification process which has specific criterion. They include "legitimacy," "correspondence," and "generic appropriateness" (Hirsch 24). These critical words are very essential in determining what type of reading people will understand.

Overall, the point that I am trying to make is every public has specific norms that determine how a piece of literature is interpreted.

A question that I thought of was what if the reader only understands that textual meaning and does not understand the verbal meaning? Will this put a negative view on how the reader portrays a certain text?

Click here for the course web page devoted to Hirsch

Someone Needs to Re-decorate or Maybe Not!?


"It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide -- plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions" (Gilman 532).

After reading this quote, I immediately thought that the narrator was going to commit suicide or completely lose her mind. The story seems to make the reader think that someone else has torn the wallpaper, but it was her! The narrator states that she watches a woman through the window, but she does not realize that it is herself that is the woman.

As I continued to read this story, with suspense, I quickly compared it to the movie 1408. John Cusack, the main character, wants to write about haunted places and he goes to a hotel. He is told that the room is off limits, but he insists that he stays in that room. As the movie progresses, John, known as Mike Enslin in the movie, encounters a room that almost destroys him. I quickly thought about this movie when reading this story because of how similar they are. The only difference is that Mike Enslin makes it through the horror whereas the narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" goes completely ill.

What really made me question myself is when the narrator seems that she is recovering from her illness, but in the end she turns for the worst. This short story keeps the reader in suspense until the very end.

I researched this story and found out that there is suppose to be a movie release in 2009. I found a preliminary (re-enacted) trailer on YouTube.

Do you think that the narrator's husband, John, pushes her over the edge by telling her that she is fine and just needs rest?


Do you think that the narrator is ill and the room with yellow wallpaper made her illness worse?

Course web page devoted to Gilman

Making an Interview a Success - The Role of Language


"Literature is a 'special' kind of language, in contrast to the 'ordinary' language we commonly use" (Eagleton 4).

Eagleton makes an interesting case about what literature is and how it is classified. When walking down the street or around campus you may just consider people having normal conversations or dialogue. On the other hand, when you are sitting in a college level English class the language that you use seems much different. Literature seems to hold a higher stature than the so-called "ordinary" language.

This idea is carried through by this quote from Eagleton:

"If everyone used phrases like 'unravished bride of quietness' in ordinary pub conversation, this kind of language might cease to be poetic" (Eagleton 5).

By this point you are probably wondering why I choose this title. A perfect example would be preparing and going to an interview. When you are at an interview you usually are dressed formally and use an elegant dialogue filled with proper vocabulary. You may not cite poetry at the interview, but I am sure that you try to set a positive tone with your, most likely, future employer. So, if everyone used this proper language in "pub conversation" then this too would not be proper whether you were at an interview or at a restaurant.

Literature is developed from generation to generation and interpreted differently over each generation. Eagleton expresses many views about what the future holds for literature. Our children and grandchildren may regard T.S. Elliot as being a poet and/or great literary composer. Although we do not know what the future holds for the literature we study, we do know that the way you express language is a determining factor in making literature and succeeding throughout life.

Click here for the course web page devoted to Eagleton

The Perception of Emotion and Poetry


"The other aspect of this Impersonal theory of poetry is the relation of the poem to its author. And I hinted, by an analogy, that the mind of the nature poet differs from that of the immature on not precisely in any valuation of "personality," not being necessarily more interesting, or having "more to say," but rather by being a more finely perfected medium in which special, or very varied, feelings are at liberty to enter into new combinations" (Eliot 3).

Eliot's description of emotion and individual talent is very intriguing because of how in-depth he covers the topic. When reading the above quote, it is true to say that the immature mind is very different than the mature mind. I believe that Eliot is trying to say that the mature poet (mind) is able to separate un-necessary personality traits and emotions in his or her poems or writings. When I began to study poetry, I remember only trying to use personal experiences or emotions to write a few stanzas. As I am nearing the completion of my English-literature degree, I understand that poetry does not have to involve an experience or emotion.

This article also discusses how important it is for a poet to base his or her poetry off of the poets of the past. I also believe that this is where the mature mind is able to include or write with an appreciation of the past. The immature mind may not be able to use poetry history because it is not developed to express the feelings with other events or history.

When thinking about this quote from my viewpoint, I believe that an immature or mature mind has the potential to create poetry that many generations to come will study. One on hand, an immature mind may not be able to write a poem like Shakespeare or Frost did, but it will be able to produce ideas that a mature mind may not be able to do. For example, a mature mind may want to follow the learned techniques of poetry whereas an immature mind may want to go out on that limb or write an abstract piece of poetry.

There seems to be a fine line between a mature and immature mind when it comes to writing poetry.


It may simply be that a poet’s individual talent outweighs the perfection of a mature or immature mind.

Click here for the course web page devoted to Elliot, ''Tradition and the Individual Talent."

A Paradox of the Unknown...


The word I was not familiar with: "Beauty is truth, and truth is beauty in the ideal world of the absolute. According to this interpretation, what seems to be a paradox, the oneness of beauty and truth, is not a paradox" (Austin 49).

Definition of a paradox according to Hamilton, " 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).

Austin uses an interesting example, but we, as the reader, later find out that it is not a paradox. I was unsure of the word "paradox" so I looked it up and listed the definition above.

An interesting statement could be, "Adam and Eve were eternal, but when they ate the sinful apple in the Garden of Eden then their eternal gift was taken from them."

The previous sentence expresses how two people went against a rule and they were punished in the end by not having eternal life.

If anyone else has any examples of paradox statements, please feel free to post?

Course web page devoted to Hamilton: Click here

The Human Struggle between Earth and the after Life


"The world of the Urn itself is a symbol of eternity" (Austin 51).

After reading Austin's view of "Keats's Grecian Urn Ode" I began to think of how a human's perception of art offers a similar view. For example, when you or I look at a piece of artwork we think how beautiful or complicated it is. Seem right so far? Well, that piece of artwork, through many people's eyes or hand's (painting), can be an escape route from their daily stress. Another example would include going to church on Sunday. Many people, including myself, believe in a higher God, but our reasoning is that we will live in eternity.

The Urn, that Austin refers to, will be in the world forever unless it is destroyed or tampered with by a human. It will live for eternity - symbolically speaking.

Keats's poem is very interesting, but Austin stated that Keat's wrote a letter before his death. This letter offers fear and not knowing what the future holds. It seems that he can not determine whether events are a dream or reality. This holds true in his poem and in reference to the Urn. Keat's is viewing the Urn as an eternal symbol, but he does not know if its beauty is a dream or eternity.

I will leave you with a few questions about this intriguing analysis from Austin.

Do you believe that the Urn is a symbol of eternity or does it offer humans a symbol of beauty?

In addition, does a piece of artwork create a realm between the artist and his or her view of eternity?

This questions are very mind-boggling, but they offer a view that Austin may be trying to resolve about Keats's Grecian Urn.

Course web page devoted to Austin: Click here

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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