April 2009 Archives

"Hedges's lengthy afterword aligned "The Yellow Wallpaper" with other "deliberate dramatic indictments, by women writers, of the crippling social pressures imposed on women" (Wallpaper 55), thereby positioning it in the feminist literary tradition then being charted..." (Lots of names 471)

For a list of the names of the writers, please do not look at the quote but rather at the title of this blog.  With that said,  I just have one question, How would the meaning have changed if the main character had been a male? 

Garson: Down with the Comic Strip

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"To translate the three-dimensional urn into language is to destroy its circularity, since one of the scenes has to be described first.  Stripping the 'legend' off the circular surface of teh urn and running it comic-strip-wise precipitates its 'still' images into time" (Garson 457).

...Interesting...but doesn't it make sense that if you are to strip the images off of the circular urn on which they were produced, and try to place them into a usable order that on would start with life and work towards death?  I understand that due to the circular object, in the practice of holding the urn, one would move from death back into life, and that this process is changed by the way Keats chose to write this ode. What difference does that make?  No one has of yet found the urn about which Keats wrote, it is speculated that he combined many urns, and if this is the case, this argument seems kind of silly.

Barker and Hulme: Enough Shakespeare

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"This may seem a strange thing to say about the most notoriously bloated of all critical enterprises, but in fact 'Shakespeare' has been force-fed behind a high wall called Literature" (Barker and Hulme 444).

I have grown very weary of Shakespeare.  Yes, I can see that he has become such an integral part of Western Literature, that without him the whole system might collapse.  I however am not a person who likes to be told what to do, and particularly what I should like.  I am very open to trying new experiences, but I have had enough Shakespeare.  I am tired of being force fed works for no other reason than the fact that some group of unknown people decided that these works are the ones that others must read.  I am sure had i found Shakespeare on my own that things could have turned out differently, but i didnt find him on my own, and i am tired of reading his works.

I am curious to hear how many people disagree with me.

Greenblatt: It is what we are

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"Art is an important agent then in the transmission of culture.  It is one of the ways in which the roles by which men and women are expected to pattern their lives are communicated and passed from generation to generation" (Greenblatt 439).

Culture is in essence everything that we are, and everything that we are not.  I agree with this quote because i was raised with images that showed me how a man should treat a woman, adn how a man should be a man.  This does not necessarily mean that what on culture teaches is right, and another wrong.  I am sure that if raised on an island of cannibals, i would have no problem arguing how my cultures choices are well founded, and another cultures are not.  However, i believe i have slipped a bit away from what the quote was trying to say.  It is through art that many of our cultural norms are expressed.  Taken literally without literary criticism, Hanzel and Gretel is a story that reminds children to stay close to home, and not to trust strangers.  This is a good message for children to learn because you have to take strangers with a grain of salt, you don't know who that person is, what they want, what their morals are, or whether or not they are going to hurt you.  It is therefore expected in our culture that when we first meet someone, we should be kind, and respectful too them, but not let them get too close until we get to know them.  This is not to say that these are the only messages that can be found in the story, a house made of candy...if something is too good to be true, it probably is.  There are dozens of possible interpretations, but the fact still remains that due to these stories, our society has molded us into people capable of living day to day under the "terms of agreement" that allow us to remain a "unified" society.

Belsey: There are no heroes

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"...this world is inevitably a place of sorrow and... the only heroism is a solitary resignation of the spirit" (Belsey 428).

Wow, this quote stuck out for me as soon as i read it.  It reminded me of one that I was told long ago, don't know who said it, but it always stuck with me and it is as follows...  to give to others you must take of yourself.     

Eagleton: We are what we make of ourselves

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"...Shakespeare was not great literature lying conveniently to hand...he is great literature because the institution constitutes him as such" (Eagleton 176).

This is something about literature that has always bothered me.  Why is it that I should love Shakespeare, or Chaucer, or any other author?  When it was determined that these are the people everyone needs to read, I was not asked for my opinion, yet i am most definitely part of that everyone group.  One of my favorite books will likely never be part of any literary canon, the title is "World War Z" and it is written as a collection of interviews with survivors after a zombie apocolypse has taken place.  There is just as much to be found in this work as there is in any play by Shakespear, but why is it not taken as seriously as Shelley's "Frankenstein"?  I hate the powers who be, I constantly have to fight them, but have no chance of winning because i don't know who it is im fighting.  They are without names, and without faces.  Kind of like the group the smoking man belonged to on the x files, they exist without our knowledge, but make our most important decisions for us.

"Similarly, cultural critics' objections to terms such as 'humanism' and 'universal truth' rest not so much on epistemological grounds as on the fact that these terms have historically been used to privelege the views of one small group-white males of European descent..." (Keesey 413).

Well, I'm not the first one to say this...but down with the man.  There is no "universal truth" just as there is no universal language, or even universal emotion, there are similarities, but exact instances that cover each and every person.  I have always been told that history is written by the winners.  I had never taken the time to think just how far this goes.  It is not only the history of war, but the history of everything we know, or at least everything we are told is important to remember. 

Feldstein: Another shift of angle

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"...John is the story's antagonist and the narrator/protagonist succumbs  to a progressive form of madness" (Feldstein 402)

One night while working together I decided to try something interesting with Michelle Tantlinger.  Knowing that she is a feminist, and me always loving to play devil's advocate, I decided to run an idea past her.  What if John is not the antagonist, but simply an unknowing fool who is prescribing this cure for his wife because it is the best cure that he knows?  What if our unnamed main character falls into this madness on her own?  Is it possible that she feels she does not have enough connection to the reality into which she was born, and therefore seeks not solitude, but meaningful relationships to "creepers" or shadow people that she finds in her own mind?  If that is the case, then she becomes not insane, but a part of a reality that her husband, and ourselves do not understand.  Obviously Felstein does a better job than myself, but I was really surprised to come across an article that covered an idea that i already had, although mine is obviously infantile in comparison.

Guetti: A question of angles

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"...[if] we take the questions addressed to the urn by Keats as real questions, we begin to see that Keats doesn't know the very things about the urn that would have been of the utmost importance to the people who made it...And I would argue that what gives the urn its special status for Keats is precisely this problem: that the urn 'matters' to Keats because of his ignorance about it" (Guetti 386).

I found this idea interesting, because of what i can remember from the other articles we read about Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" there was no doubt that Keats was trying to present us with a picture of what he saw.  However, I do not remember any of the other writers asking whether or not Keats was actually addressing the urn, or simply stating what he saw, making a remark about life in general.  I know this question posed by Guetti really started to make me think, this was not at all what i found when reading Keats' poem.  I saw the poem as pointing to instances of shared emotional pasts that we humans share, first love being just one of them.  Wow...I think i am really getting into this post structuralism, this is what i have been thinking all term, how can we ever think that there is one clear and definite reading, let alone an author's "intended meaning"  there is just too much that can be "read" into any work.

Miko: "The Tempest" is not a neat knot

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"Does this play have loose ends or not?  Those who lean toward heavily symbolic readings tend to think not; those who favor character analysis and even moral analysis tend to think it does" (Miko 375).

I am just throwing this out there for everyone...I am curious to read what you think, are there loose ends?  I would have to say that yes there are, since there are so many possible ways to read a work, how could there not be?  But, as the quote above states, there are ways to read this work that finish it without contest.  What do you think?

de Man: Thank you for the definition

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"Semiology, as opposed to semantics, is the science or study of signs as signifiers; it does not ask what words mean, but how they mean" (de Man 366)

I am having great dificulty with the signs and signifiers that we keep reading about...So if i am getting this correctly, as we read, we should not be looking at what the words mean, but how they present that meaning.  As Dr. Jerz's example, there is no big book of meanings, so a rose can mean beautiful, but it might not.  So we need to look at the context of where the word is placed in order to find our how it means?

Letter to the CEA

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Marina Favila

College English Association President

James Madison University

Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807


Dear Dr. Marina Favila,

As a Seton Hill English Literature student, I was asked by my Literary Criticism professor to attend the College English Association conference recently in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.  I have to admit that I am very upset with the treatment received by some of my fellow students when they attempted to gain entry into this conference.  When approaching the door, ready to pay the entry fee, they were turned away.  I had planned on attending the next day, but after being told they were not allowed entry, I chose to forgo the hour long one way trip to Pittsburgh figuring my luck would probably be the same.  I understand that there was ambiguous language used in a communication with my professor, and it is partly this misunderstanding that led to the confusion.  However, this confusing language doesn't explain why students would not be given access to the College Association of English conference.

There are many students in my class who are preparing to become teachers.  I feel terrible that I am the one who has to remind you that according to your own web page, you are "...a professional society of scholar-teachers, dedicated to the study of language, literature, and the art of the classroom"(CEA).   I suppose the best place to start with this quote is at the beginning.

It seems unusual that a "professional" group would so willingly turn away a group of fellow "scholars" who are only interested in furthering their education.  I know at least for myself that you have left a terrible taste in my mouth.  Your website states that you are "...a professional society of scholar-teachers", but when students and fellow scholars arrive, instead of attempting to teach us, you simply turn us away.  This hardly seems professional to me, each of us was willing to pay the necessary entry fee to participate, and instead we have been made to feel as though we are not good enough to even watch and listen to your conference.

I wish to remind you that I too am a "...scholar...dedicated to the study of language, literature, and the art of the classroom", so I feel I must ask of you what it is that makes me so different from those members of your association in this instance.   As an aspiring writer, dedicated reader, and future teacher, I cannot help but wonder why I would not be able to gain entrance to this conference?  This is the question that I pose to you, and I hope that you will be able to give me an adequate answer.  I would love for you to explain the reasoning behind this decision to me and my fellow scholars.




James R. Lohr

110 Starboard Villa Ln. Apt 118

Greensburg, PA 15601


Works Cited

CEA College English Association.  2005.  CEA: College English Association.  6 April, 2009.   


James Madison University.  2006.  James Madison University English Department.

            6 April, 2009.  <http://www.jmu.edu/english/faculty_favila.html>

Blogging Portfolio 2: The Sequel

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This is my blogging portfolio part 2.  I'm still not a big fan of blogging, but is required for the course and here goes.  Since my last portfolio, I have finally come to a conclusion on the style of criticism that draws me in, I seem to be a post-structuralist.  It's kind of nice to have a name that goes along with my opinions, never had that before.  To be honest, I never even realized that this was how I was reading, or the reason behind why certain parts of a text grabbed my attention more than others. 

The Collection:  Here are some of what I believe are my better blogs, this second section has done much more to grab my attention than the first part of the semester.

















Blogging Carnival


Interaction:  Again, I found that there is something about Mara's Blogs that make me really enjoy reading them.  It appears that my best comments and interactions happened on her blogs.




Discussions:  Well it appears that my blogs were not checked by many other students.   These are the best examples I could find that included more than one comment.



Timeliness:  All of my blogs have been on time, and my last set of blogs as well as this portfolio were and are early.


The comments Grande:







What I have Learned/ My Final Project

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Thus far, this class has taught me that there is more than one way to read a text.  That some ways make more sense to me than others, and now I have been given an idea of what type of Literary Critic/ reader I am.  I can now more easily see what it is that pulls me into a text, and now have a better ability to explain why.  I have found out due to this course that I am Post-Structural Mimetic literary critic.  I enjoy a text that works with the world, for that is one of the many things I search for that allows me to become closer to the work.  I had never realized before just how much the idea of the author's "intended meaning" rubbed me the wrong way.  I am sure to a certain extent that each author has at least a general idea of what message the work is supposed to reveal (I know I do), but I am not certain that this has to be the main concern when reading.  While I have found that searching for the author's intended meaning is important, because of the post structural lean that I have, I find it hard to believe that we as readers, or in some cases even the author, are able to determine what that message is, or what else might be found.  We as people carry baggage from the life we have led and the world in which we live, we have biases and opinions both internally built and externally learned.  All of these things make it impossible for us as readers to be the type of reader necessary to push aside our scars in order to see the work as it was intended to be.

     I believe that the most important thing that I have learned in this course is a lesson that I had never before applied to Literature, and that is that it is inherently important to study your enemies in order to defeat them.  While I understand that other literary critics are not necessarily my enemies, in order to prove them wrong or argue their points, I must know how they think.  It is easy to point out superficial flaws of a certain style of criticism, but much more difficult to argue these critics based upon their own principals and standards. 

For my final project, I would like to take one work, most likely the movie Blade Runner, and work out all of the possibilities that I can determine from the work itself.  This paper would provide me with the following options:

-           By using a Post - Structuralist approach to my final project, I will be able to further work towards my understanding of other techniques of Literary Criticism, such as:

o   Formalism

o   Psychoanalytic

o   Mimetic

-          This style of critique, I believe, will allow me to further open my mind into the use of language, setting, and dialogue as ways of using ambiguous terms in order to leave open the possibilities of varied yet valid interpretations.

-          Being that I have just recently realized that I am a Post - Structuralist by habit, but have never had a name for my leaning in this manner, I believe I will be able to gain a better understanding of my particular style of Literary Criticism.

-          The paper would be fun to write...and let's face it, isn't that what learning is all about?