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March 2009 Archives

March 2, 2009

Shadows in Dust

Compare the following quotes:

What is life? A frenzy. What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a fiction, and our greatest good is but small; for, all life is a dream, and even dreams are dreams. (Life is a Dream, Act 2, pg 123)
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time. And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle. Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. (Macbeth: Act V, scene v, lines 16-27)

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Muddled Mimetically

...we look at things every day but we don't really see them until the artist's picture calls our attention to them. Then we say, "That's the very man!" but in fact we hadn't been fully aware of the life around us until the artist taught us to see it. (Keesey 211)

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March 3, 2009

You know what they say. When you ASSuME...

In their essay, "The Yellow Wallpaper," Gilbert and Gubar mention the "anxiety-inducing connections between what women writers tend to see as their parallel confinements in texts, houses, and maternal female bodies" and argue that "Charlotte Perkins Gilman brought them all together in 1890 in a striking story of female confinement and escape, a paradigmatic tale which (like Jane Eyre) seems to tell the story that all literary women would tell if they could speak their 'speechless woe'" (Keesey 262).

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Free will isn't free

According to Sears, Calderon's definition of free will is as follows:

It is a decision informed by something, a judgment (whether for good or ill) that conditions the direction taken (281).

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Repetition makes the heart grow fonder

According to critic Stephen Rupp, Calderon creates in his play, La vida es sueno (or Life is a Dream) "a process of repetition which creates thematic and narrative patterns and generates a space of delay in which the reader may apprehend those patterns as central to a fitting closure" (292).

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Project Proposal: The Labryinth

Participants: Ellen Einsporn and Bethany Merryman

For our project, Bethany and I would like to do an intertextual study on Life is a Dream. Specifically, we would like to focus on the theme of the labyrinth, which is apparent throughout the text starting from the very first page. We will attempt to link Calderon's references to man as beast to the Greek myth of the Minotaur and his labyrinth. Moreover, we will study the prevalence of this theme throughout the Spanish language and related cultures by addressing the movie, Pan's Labyrinth, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

We're still unsure of how we plan to present this research---we could do anything from simply writing a paper to creating an interactive website. Any suggestions?

March 4, 2009

A more modern interpretation

"a side effect of the drug" vs. "merely a semblance of death"

"I wish to God you had never been born" vs. "I wish it had pleased God and heaven that I had never given you life"

"I respect your decision" vs. "I envy you and thank you for you great worth"

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March 14, 2009

An apple is not an orange

In her argument "Beyond the Net: Feminist Criticism as Moral Criticism," Josephine Donovan argues that the exploitation of woman as an aesthetic image is "an example of artistic bad faith, an author's immoral use of his characters" (227).

Using various films as examples, Donovan explains

we have a visually seductive film, aesthetically very beautiful. All the frames are in aesthetic balance, and the colors of the interiors are aesthetically pleasing. But in the end the "interiors" of the characters are of no moral substance than the house and apartment interiors they live in (227).

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Teaching with a Critical Awareness

"People who have read a lot poetry can generally interpret a given poem better than people who have not" (270).

"Like the conventions of language, literary conventions are arbitrary, and they must, therefore, be learned" (271).

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Frye Spies with his Critical Eye

"There is no private symbolism: the phrase makes no sense" (283).

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From monolith to monomyth

According to Frye, when one reads The Tempest, "we note in passing the folktale theme of the struggle of brothers, the rightful heir exiled only to return later in triumph" (303).

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Books Have Birth Certificates

"No poet has his complete meaning alone." T.S. Eliot

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March 15, 2009

The Liposuction of Literature

"All criticism is reductive" (Paris 222).

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March 31, 2009

What's the buzz?

If you struggled like I did with the numerous terms Derrida uses in his essay, this blog entry is for you. The following is a list explaining buzz words and vocab words that pop up in his essay "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences."

episteme: (354, column 1) a system of understanding or a body of ideas which give shape to the knowledge of that time (note: the link here references the concepts of Foucault, not Derrida, but I feel it is still helpful. Foucault was a French post-structuralist as well. Without going into too much detail, he argues that we are stuck in a box (intellectually), and, should we escape from this box, we must realize that we are only now in a different box that encompassed the one we were in earlier.)

interdict: (354, column 1) to forbid; prohibit

arche: (354, column 2) "the origin"

telos: (354, column 2) "the end"

eschatology: (354, column 2) any system of doctrines concerning last, or final, matters, as death, the Judgment, the future state, etc

elliptical: (354, column 2) (of a style of speaking or writing) tending to be ambiguous, cryptic, or obscure

"universal problematic": (355, column 1) in reference to the "event" or "rupture" in which our inability to identify the "transcendental signified" or the center was realized (see this brief explanatory essay for further help)

"the concept of the sign": (355, column 2) "determined through opposition" but not through the strict schema of signifier--signified. Instead, there is no constant/original signifier; one signifier leads to another which leads to another, and so on. (see section 2.2.1 of this webpage for more explanation)

bricolage: (358, column 1) (in literature) a piece created from diverse resources

mythopoetic: (358, column 1) of or pertaining to the making of myths; causing, producing, or giving rise to myths

anaclastic: (359, column 1) of or pertaining to refraction (of light)

freeplay: (360, column 2) all that is left in the absence of a center, "a field of infinite substitutions in teh closure of a finite ensemble"

supplement: (360, column 2) added to complete or make up a deficiency

etymology: (351, column 2) an account of the history of a particular word or element of a word

While this is not an all an exhaustive list of terms present in Derrida's work, I hope this helps. All definitions were taken from dictionary.com.

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Deconstructing Derrida's Deconstrivism

Alright, so it's officially been established that much of the class a) does not understand Derrida, b) does not like Derrida, or c) has a headache from Derrida and completely and utterly loathes him for inflicting such pain on our already sore brains.

Well, I'm here to tell you that I'm in the same boat as everyone else, but I have tried to understand him to the best of my abilities. I waited to post my entry so I could grasp what the class needs from me as presenter of this essay. Well, it seems clear that we need to do a little deconstructing of our own to understand Derrida's methods and goals of literary deconstructivism.

First of all, if you had trouble understanding the key concepts of the essay, please see the following links:

Derrida’s "Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences"


Also, if you're stuck in Negative Nancy mode, please see Derek's and Greta's blog for a more positive approach to Derrida. They do a nice job of linking Derrida's theory to what we do for class.

If you're hung up on Derrida's style of writing, particularly the abundance of repeating terms and phrases, please see Angela's blog and the comments she received.

If you need help understanding Derrida's concept of the center--or the non-center, I might term it--please see Katie's blog.

And finally, if you're struggling with the not-so-basic vocabulary terms and phrases Derrida repeats in his essay, please see my blog listed under Hamilton for the week, What's the Buzz?

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Continue reading "Deconstructing Derrida's Deconstrivism" »

About March 2009

This page contains all entries posted to EllenEinsporn in March 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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