< EL312: Nabokov will play you, fool | Main | EL312: Identity through comparison, not similarity >

March 7, 2007

EL312: Get your (inter)text on

So after giving us theories that pertain to the text (and its relation to history, itself, readers, and the world) for the past four chapters, Keesey brings us to intertextuality... which basically seems to debunk all the others we've learned about to this point.

...it is not a question of what we study but how we study... literary criticism has often appeared confused because critics have tried to define their subject of study by the object of study... [critics] have tried to borrow their methodology--their way of seeing the object [poem]--from some other discipline... One cannot borrow an approach or a methodology from another discipline, because the approach or methodology is the discipline. Disciplines are ways of seeing, not things to be seen, subjects, not objects. And what literary critics must master is not a definition of their object, but the discipline of criticism, which involves a systematic knowledge of the conventions from which metaphoric or symbolic forms are created and through which they can be understood. (275)

All right, I know that was a huge quote, but it means so much! I love that Keesey explains intertextuality as a pure form of lit. crit. since it is not exiting the discipline of either literature or criticism. What's great about this is that those of us who study literature should inherently know, through out studies, something about the new text we encounter.

I know in many lit. courses I've had over the years there have been comparisons of poems and short stories to one another, and sometimes I feel like this isn't a good way to get a discussion going or to understand a text. However, Keesey has brought a few things to light, and I think he caps it off with the help of one of my favorite philosophers, Mikhail Bakhtin:

[Bakhtin's] concept of the "chronotope" assumes that each era has its own way of perceiving and representing time and pace, and his concepts like "carnival" and "heteroglossia" assume close connections between language, literature, and ideology... Bakhtin argues that all periods are characterized by competing ideologies, competing social forces, and, intimately bound to these, competing voices. (277)

So if there are ideas/social forces/voices competing in every period, as Bakhtin says, then there are these same competitions going on across the boundaries of time and space as well. (Before I lose anyone, just think about comparing romantic poetry to something written today. Okay? Just like that.) Regardless of the competition that took place as that period was the "present," as we see it in the past in each period, we can compare it and its literature to the other periods-seeing what ultimately "won" in each period, hence the creation and death of genres--and then we see the struggles between the things in each period incite a war between the times of all space! (Yikes, I think I might be too excited about this... Haha.) This is pretty fascinating.

Keesey, Ch 5 (Introduction) -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at March 7, 2007 2:01 PM


I really enjoyed that quote as well from Keesey. Both him and Culler explain the mechanics and systematic structure on how to study a piece of literature. The part that most fascinated me was the part that relates two stories together, based off of conventions, genre, or a cultural significance. I feel like that literature always has a link to something, whether it is a reader, writer, or another piece of literature. It interests me that there are conventions from one era that are so relatable to conventions from another era, that we find them to be comparable and useful toward our searches and studies of literature as a whole.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at March 14, 2007 4:31 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)