I Think I Like Mimetic Criticism!

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“To put it simply, if we can show that literature does, in some important ways, tell us the truth about experience, then the various forms of ‘scientific’ thought can be met on their own ground and the vast enterprise connected with literature, and our own intense personal interest can be given a widely accepted justification.”


-From Donald Keesey’s Contexts for Criticism, “Chapter Four-Mimetic Criticism: Reality as Context,” page 213


Despite all of the complicated explanations, I really liked this chapter on Mimetic Criticism, and I can say that I think Mimetic criticism might be a valuable tool to me.  I think it makes a lot of sense to look at reality and what was/is going on in reality when the play was written and what in reality today could affect the way that it is viewed.  I really think, however, that Mimetic Criticism uses all of the other types of criticism we have discussed, including those that use the work, the history and author, and the audience as contexts.  I know that Keesey talked about Freud, Aristotle, Plato and Jung and the ideal and empirical realities, but there are also the sections where he talks about the artist creating, not a shadowy or watered-down version of reality, but that creates new reality through its truth.  I hope that the other articles will help me to better understand this form of criticism, and hopefully I will continue to enjoy and understand it, because we all know how easy it is to understand this stuff one minute and be completely lost the next.


Check out what others had to say about Keesey's introduction to Mimetic Criticism


Sue said:

I agree with you about this article. I feel like I actually got this one for once, I think what really helped me was just looking up mimetic criticism, which means to essentially imitate. I really like that Plato, Freud, and all those other people help us to understand.

Greta Carroll said:

Erica, I agree with you, I think mimetic criticism is one of those schools which cannot use alone. I was trying to think of theses that would solely be mimetic (kind of like I tried to do with formalism) and I can’t really think of any that would work very well. As you pointed out it can be combined well with historicism, author intent, and reader-response. So, I think your realization that it is another tool which can be used, but one that works best with other schools is a very good one.

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