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March 11, 2007

EL312: The Rolodex of Literature

When Shelley writes "my soul is an enchanted boat" we must, in order to "understand" this, naturalize the figure; we must perform a semantic transformation on "enchanted boat" so as to bring it under a particular order or vraisemblance, which here we might call "possible characteristics of the soul." (293)

I enjoyed how Culler explained his version of structuralism. We have to take the literature apart and put it back together in terms that either we (the reader) or others (if we happen to be the critic or teacher) can understand. Can't say I ever thought of it this way.

What I'm wondering, though, is what about this process helps us "organize our world"? (289) If literature is, what Culler calls it, an organizational system, and we have to disassemble it to derive our own meaning--thus reorganizing the information that the author took care to organize for us--what meaning can it possible have?

I think in cases like this we have to resort to the not what literature means, but instead how it means (289).

Culler, ''Structuralism and Literature'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at March 11, 2007 7:16 PM


Your closing line is an interesting thought. I think if we approach trying to understand everything in our "world" the same way Culler approaches understanding literature, we will all be running screaming mad through the streets!

Posted by: Dave Moio at March 14, 2007 8:29 AM

LOL, you're probably right, David... His thinking was pretty intense, and I'm not sure we could apply it to everything in life (like cheese, for instance... I would be sad if cheese put me into screaming fits).

Posted by: Karissa at March 14, 2007 8:39 AM

Oh my. That is all I have to say to that comment Rissa.

All kidding aside. It has meaning for you. It is the same thing that we teach kids in elementary school all the time. Take the definition and put it into your own words so that you can understand it. Although sometimes I question that myself because you could make the definition easier to understand for you, but you could leave important things out in the process. I guess I didn't answer your question very well huh. *sigh*

Posted by: Tiffany at March 14, 2007 7:45 PM

NO DISSASEMBLE STEPHANIE! Sorry the word disassemble always reminds me of that movie with Number 5, the robot that is suppose to "just run programs" but gets short circuited and obtains human-like characteristics. (My brother always used to cry at the end when we were little..hehe) In what is that called? Oh, wow. Short Circuit. That's it! (Duh) It's a good one if you are into that sort of thing. Anyway, I think this is what is so difficult about literature - the need to disassemble it and put it into something we can understand and learn from. I like it though because it requires an expansion of the mind in ways that I don't think a lot of other subjects do. So, I like how you put it Karissa! (It brought back wonderful childhood memories!)

Posted by: Lorin at March 15, 2007 2:56 PM

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