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March 12, 2007

EL312: Apparently I missed a cool class last week.

I wish I could have been in class last Thursday to discuss all the wonderful philosophers we read about for the chapter on mimesis. I probably would've really gotten into that...

Thanks to Valerie and Erin, I know a bit of what went on in class. I'm grateful for their help, and it sounds like you all had fun in class.

Valerie brought the feminism discussion to my attention. She said that Vanessa explained that stories like "The Yellow Wallpaper" were written in a time when women truly were oppressed and that looking at it with modern eyes is basically stupid. I agree wholeheartedly! (Couldn't agree more, actually...) Thanks, Vanessa, for bringing this valuable point to our class. As some of my friends from our Chaucer class this past fall will tell you, I am quite the stickler for anachronistic (or p. 14 in your Bedford) reading. I do not like when people try to push modern ideals onto something that was written decades or centuries ago--the historicist in me goes nuts. While I don't think that historic or genetic criticism, as we discussed them in class, are the driving force in literary criticism, I find that they can be helpful in realizing the truth in the text. It might not show me what it "means" (or "how" it means, as we've been told), but it sure does point me to what it does NOT mean... And reading our modern causes and vendettas onto a text written at the turn of the century is not helping us understand a text.

(This is the part where I basically say that feminism is bunk and a bunch of women attack me for saying so. It's okay to be proud to be a woman and to want to be treated like everyone else--because isn't that what we're all after anyway with things like Affirmative Action and the Civil Rights movement?--but seriously, get off the horse that you don't have to ride side-saddle. You're a woman. Great--so am I. I'm not oppressed, I just fight for everything I have like any other human being. I do declare that, while there are inequities in society today--not only between genders, but in other contexts as well--there are fewer in certain interactions in our society than there were in the past and, if not, there are at least more and better ways to deal with the inequities and correct them. Take that to the bank.)

Erin also brought up the extended discussion of feminism... (Must have been some discussion!) She said that one topic was about women as "the helper" or the seductress... But Erin said that people gave examples of strong, independent women, too (her example being North Country, which is based on real women). Erin also said that Kevin M. said men are more able to admit defeat now than in the time "The Yellow Wallpaper" was written. I guess defeat is one way of putting it... I personally think that men are just more likely to be socialized into the role of men-accepting-women than they were before. (That's the nature v. nurture thing again, isn't it?)

I'm pretty happy that no one is a flamboyant feminist in our class... and no one is a male chauvinist either. Thank goodness. I guess that makes discussion and such easier for all of us. It's okay to be proud and confident in our genders (and, in fact, I might hope all of us could be), but shutting out the other gender entirely? C'mon--I gave up on cooties in, like, kindergarten...

As for the mimetic forces in the feminist argument, I think I've stated my position before. Sure, literature can compare to real life. But, I really do think that it's time we threw out the baby with the bath-water on this one--get rid of this idea that we can push today on yesterday and make it fit and get rid of the idea that American women are oppressed. We're not. We have more opportunities than any other women in the world... Saying American women are oppressed puts them on the same level as women in other countries who are forced into sex markets or slavery. I don't deny that there are problems in our country (it's convenient here that the literature we're looking at is only English, only American or British canon). Regardless, the literature as representative of life serves as a portrait into the past. We can't change that--even with feminist reading--so what is it really doing to keep pointing our fingers at men when men of today treat women pretty decently on the whole?

While I don't care to miss class, I did have a great time in D.C.. If the rest of the feminist discussion was anything like Vanessa's blog on the Donovan essay, I can only say that I'm sorry to have missed it. :)

Realism as a Critical Criterion -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at March 12, 2007 7:32 PM


Why am I just finding this reference to my blog now? Thanks Moveable Type.

Anyway- thank you for agreeing with me! It's nice to know I have some people on my side...:) I'm mentioned several times even- I feel so loved, Karissa. haha. I enjoyed those blog entries, actually, since I can get a little, um, fired up about feminist readings sometimes. Not that I really consider myself a feminist or anything, but sometimes I just want to scream with some of these readings- why take literature out of its context? How does that help anything or anyone? Sure, women were oppressed, and that's bad, but it happened, so let's read the literature with that in mind. Sometimes historicism isn't as helpful as it could be.

Posted by: Nessa at April 9, 2007 1:57 PM

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