How do we teach literature


"Literature or fiction is not a knowledge, but it is not only a site where knowledge is produced" (Belsey 432).

When I read this quote, I quickly thought of the second to last line in Ode on a Grecian Urn which states "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" (487). How can we deconstruct literature and knowledge? Literature seems to be much easier to deconstruct than knowledge? Is knowledge the amount of information that one person has or is it how far they progress in there life?

Belsey seems to be trying to say that literature is only one form of knowledge because everything else we learn ful-fills the rest of our knowledge base. This may include the sciences, the maths, and the histories. I found it to be confusing when she said that "literature is not knowledge." If it is not knowledge, then how can it be a "site?"

History and politics are usually vivid subjects when reading literature, but why?

If literature is a separate form of knowledge, then why don't we make it a separate area? What would literature be if authors did not include history and politics? It would still be literature, but without history and politics.

Does literature only survive by containing parts of history and politics?

Click here for the web page devoted to Belsey.


I think that literature automatically includes politics, history and culture. These ideas and concepts are ingrained in society and in the individual. Without history or politics or even culture what kind of literature would there be? Or ask the question can we have these others without literature? How ingrained is literature? Do all of these concepts go hand in hand?

You present very good questions, Mara! I do not think that we can have literature without pilitics, history, or culture. It is through these three concepts that we are able to get literature from people in society. People build their thoughts and ideas from society into their texts which make us question what was the author's intent. I think that these concepts do go hand in hand because of their unique relationship to people and society.

I, too, think that literature goes hand in hand with politics, history, and culture. If it wasn't for these factors, then how could we have literature?

I didn't like this quote to be honest with you, Derek. I didn't understand how he could say that "literature is not a knowledge." We can certainly become more knowledgable about life, history, culture, people, everything by reading literature. How then is it not a knowledge? Would either of you two be able to explain this to me or someone else? I have a feeling that I'm being too sensitive about this statement.

A little birdy told me that we had the same quote so I had to come say hi and check out your blog. I think you have an interesting way to look at this quote, I saw it differently though. I guess I felt that Belsey was saying that we can't learn from literature, but I think we can, even if it's nonfiction. We just read the grapes of wrath in my american literature class, even though its a fictionalized story it taught me something abut the dust bowl, it also made me want to do research.

Wow, Sue! It's amazing how two people can pick a quote and receive a completly different meaning. I think that any form of literature is important to study because it allows the readers to get a meaning that can be different each time they read it. Literature is very different from math, science, and social studies because the answers are the answers. They do not change after reading or writing them.

What is knowledge? A wonderful question, it is all that we know, all that we have experienced, all that we are, and nothing at all. There are no two people in this world with the same knowledge, since each of us stand at slightly different mental angles as we approach something, we will never experience any part of the world in the same way. That rainbow you know and see, is not the rainbow i know and see. What do you think?

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on April 17, 2009 2:29 PM.

The Influence of Culture was the previous entry in this blog.

History is like a germ that infects everything is the next entry in this blog.

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