February 2009 Archives


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"The process of analyzing and marking the type and the number of feet in each line of verse is called scansion" (Hamilton 205).

I happened to pick this at random, but after reading it I was glad I picked it because it deals with an something we do all the time, but we don't necessarily know the technical term for it. Scanning a poem is part of this term...scansion is just a fancier way of describing all of it!

Bye for now

Looking at the Bigger Picture

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"Once everyone makes the 'right' choice, once they all exercise free will, rather than freedom, the rebel soldier is a threat to the 'right' order, and rebellion is treason" (Sears).

When I first read the section where the soldier who had initially helped to release Segismundo was in turn thrown in jail by him in the end, my first thought was this happened because it was to demonstrate that revolts against the king should be supressed since Segismundo had made amends with his father. I thought this also occurred to show that this type of behavior would no longer be encouraged by Segismundo.

However, after reading Sears article, as realized I was looking at the story too much and not looking at the bigger picture. Sometimes it's hard for me to look at a story and not discuss it as if it were real or the characters were real. For example, it doesn't really matter why Segismundo sent the soldier away in relation to the other characters and the rest of the story itself, but rather why Calderon would have this action taken by this certain character towards another character at this time in the story. What connection does this action have to the bigger picture? I'm not sure if I worded that explanation right, so if you don't understand what I am trying to say in this paragraph, just let me know in a comment.

Anyways, Sears's article helped me to see that bigger picture. Segismundo was chosen for that action towards the rebel soldier in order to show the suppression of free will when it is used for something that isn't necessarily considered "good" for society. I think the scenario could kind of be related to earlier scenes when Segismundo was going a little crazy with his free will when initially released from prison. Because his free will was not being used for what society considered good, he had to be placed back into isolation as punishment.

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Clarin...Pulling a Melville in Disguise?

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"ALL: Give us your soles!

CLA: I can't, because I need them for myself, and it would be a defect to be a soulless prince" (Calderon 129)

I had to pick this quote because it immediately reminded of Derek's blog that he created for our blog carnival about "The Dead". In it, he discussed the use of sole vs. souls that occurred often throughout scenes in Joyce's work. This quote brings the pun straight out without trying to hide it.

Throughout the entire story, I kept trying to figure out the importance on Clarin. I understood him to be a funny character, but I also felt that his role was more important than he appeared. Then, when I went back and read the intro of the story, I realized that his role was important to holding the story together (which is why an intro is put before a story, so read it first). Clarin was a "gracioso". First of all, let's look at what this word means:

      "A role type particularly characteristic of Spanish Golden Age drama is the gracioso ("comic"), often a shrewd and witty but selfish, greedy, and cowardly servant or other lower-class figure, a spokesman for the 'sensible' but materialistic and circumscribed point of view. The gracioso might merely inject punning one-liners, but in the better plays, like La vida es sueno, he could be crucial to the action" (vii).

Then later on in the intro, I saw what kind of gracioso Clarin was meant to be: "Clarin is in many ways the paragon of graciosos-- timorous, greedy, self-seeking, sly, amoral, and endlessly punning-- but his adventure in Act Three raises his status immeasurably and links him solidly to the overall message of the play" (xiii).

Ok, now that I got confirmation that Clarin's role, thought slightly smaller than the rest and appearing less serious, was acutally very important to the course of the play. However, I can't see how important his role was. I understand why he was locked in the tower and how his speech when he died caused Clotaldo, Basilio, and Astolfo to turn around and confront Segismundo, but does this importance have something to do with how the three of them confronted Segismundo? I feel like most of Clarin's importances lies in that final speech, but I'm not sure if I am looking in the right direction or if I'm completely missing.  

It seems like all the funny lines and the smaller amount of lines that Clarin had were almost like a distraction to his importance. I felt like I was readiny a little bit of Melville, I was distracted by the jokes and surrounding action, yet I missed the important message and symbol that was lying underneath. Did anyone see Clarin more clearly than I did? 



Starting to Create a Foundation...Portfolio 1

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It's hard to believe that our first portfolio is due. I realized how much work we all have completed so far this semester after going back through the blogs. As a group, I think we all work really well blogging together. We seem to really help each other with explanations and blogging tips that we leave on each others' entries. Also, I feel that we are all working to try to help everyone understand some of the difficult concepts we are tyring to grasp in Literary Criticism. Most of all, with the portfolio, I can use to to see how much I have grown from my earlier English classes and will be able to use it later in the semester to see how far I have progressed.


To introduce you to my porfolio, here are several blog entries that could fall under several of the categories listed below. Use them to start getting acquainted with my work, and then I'll introduce you to some more specific topics later.

  • Eagleton = ADD while reading In this blog, I describe some of the frustration that I feel while I read Eagleton. It's usually never a pleasant experience.
  • John + Depression = Obsession with Wallpaper This is my theory for why the narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" went crazy. But then again, since she was unreliable, she could have been crazy from the beginning.
  • Who Is Speaking? Want to know a little more about E.D. Hirsch's historical approach to literary criticism? Click to find out!
  • Keesey vs. Hirsch? In this blog, I talk about how I think I notice Keesey criticizing Hirsch's historical approach. Do you agree with me? Let me know!
  • Where Do I Start? I thought this blog was too short to receive any comments, but it actually received some comments...ones that actually were good too.
  • Avoiding the Norm Another shorter blog that still received good comments.
  • Fast Pace This is a shorter blog that didn't fair out so well. I guess you have to include the good with the bad.
  • What's His Purpose? What to see what my blogs look like when I get lost and confused. Although that occurs most of the time, see what it looks like when I don't know left from right.
  • So That's What I Can Look For I actually share two quotes from Eagleton in this blog. Thats pretty rare. It's usually a struggle for me to share one quote from Eagleton since he's not exaclty on my good side, so enjoy!
  • Leaping Over Stepping Stones Hamilton once again comes in handy with some Literary Terms that I always fail to remember. This one is a little more essential than some others.
  • Just Too Many Here's a small conversation that I started with Greta. We'll get into some of the longer conversations later.
  • No More Please I often get frustrated with the weekly casebook papers that we have to write applying the type of criticism we learned for the week. As I mention in my blog, I can often understand the type of criticism, but I really struggle to apply it when it comes to writing.
  • Antithesis and Anaphora Here are two more blogs showing words that I had to look up from Hamilton. I hope I remember at least some of these words someday!


      Here are a few blogs that are a little longer and had a little more work than usual put into them. Some of them are explanations, many are questions and thoughts that I had on a particular work that I wasn't sure about. Looking back on them, I can see the moments were I started building some sort of a base to work off for new future material.

    • Will We Ever Know? I liked the historical interpretation approach that Hirsch used, but it led to the same ending that we seem to find at the end of all literary criticism...how will we ever know for sure?
    • On the Fence Looking back on this one, I can say I'm pretty sure I'm not longer on the fence about whether you can write poetry without putting your emotions or experience into it. After a few weeks past this blog entry, I can definately understand how you ccan write poetry about something you haven't experienced. I guess it's like writing a persuasive paper that you don't agree with.  You win Eliot...for now.
    • Can It Stand Alone? My view of reader-reponse criticism changed greatly after reading the essay's and Keesey's chapter 3. To me, it appears to be a really weak form, and I just can't figure out how it would be able to hold its own without calling on for other forms of criticism for help.


~Blog Carnival~

Although this section of the Portfolio took a lot of time, it created some great dicussions. I not only learned a lot from my peers about our topic we chose to discuss, but this activity opened my eyes up to blogging a little more. Through this "carnival", I learned how useful and important creating a conversation with response can be. It has definately helped me to create a strategy for improving my blogging for future assignments, especially when it comes to follow up on comments.

    • Our Blog Carnival This activity was used to turn our ordinary blogging into a carnival with a few creatie twists. For the activity, our group, consisting of Angela, Derek, Greta, Kayley, and I, decided on a topic that we all would blog on. We decided to blog on "The Dead" by James Joyce. We all read this work in Advanced Study in Literature, which is a study on Irish literature. Each of us created our own parts of the carnival by blogging about what we each found interesting in "The Dead". We also continued our participation in the carnival fun by commenting and continuing conversations on each other's blogs. Who knew learning could come in the form of a carnival?
    • For my blog entry for the carnival, I invited The Illusionist for a show. I just happend to find him walking around the streets of Dublin in "The Dead", going almost unnoticed.
          • Just in case you don't want to go through our whole carnival, here are a few short cuts:



    When it came to interacting with my classmates, I always tried to leave a comment that was useful or at least raised another question. I know that although I appreciate comments such as "nice blog!" or "I agree", I know I personally don't benefit from them because they are not really adding to the discussion. In turn, I try to avoid doing the same to anyone else. The blog samples I have below show interaction I have had with classmates. They include instances of me commenting on their blogs, linking their blogs to mine, or a conversation that started on one of my blogs.

    • Same Start, Different End This was one of my first blogs for the semester. I linked Greta's and Erica's blog to my own. I did this to not only bring up how their blogs related to mine, but also as a hint to some new bloggers that this type of linking is useful and makes connecting conversations easier.
    • Not 100% Formalism...Is It? This blog received longer comments from several people. These longer comments indicated to me that I had touched upon a topic or question that they too had seen while reading and wanted to discuss.
    • Huh? Although the blog itself is pretty much as desperate as its title makes it sound, I do appreciate Derek trying to help me figure out what I was reading. Dr. Jerz, I appreciated your input as well, although I have to confess that after reading your comment I had another "Huh?" moment.
    • Erica's blog is a good example of interaction that happened frequently through all of our blogs. Erica's blog really helped me out with reader response criticism which I was having trouble with. I let her know how much it helped me so she would continue her good work!



There were several great discussions that occured before we even got to class. Check and see what everyone had to say before we had to share our thoughts on Thursday nights.

    • Something a Little More Concrete Not only did I link to Angela's blog in this entry, but it also started a discussion from Greta, Angela, and Dr, Jerz. I think Angela realized in this entry that Literary Criticism, especially formalism, is beginning to follow her everywhere.
    • Not 100% Formalism... Is It? I had to include this one again because it did seem to generate a good discussion. So, in case you didn't get to read it before, here's your chance now!
    • Derek's Blog This was a good conversation that was started on one of Derek's blogs for Keesey Chapter three. Check it out to see what all the talk was about.



All of my blogs (except three that were done on time but failed to link to the course website for some reason) were done on time, some more ahead than others. I surprised myself at being able to keep up with this schedule, and sometimes even caught myself getting a little ahead (although this didn't occur too frequently). 

    • A Step by Step Process This blog occurred when I had those really weird weeks when I decided to get all my homework done as far ahead of time as possible. Too bad those weeks don't occur more often. Anyways, I happened to blog this entry the Friday before its due date...take a look and see if you see a difference in my thinking when I do work ahead of time compared to when I do it under the pressure of an oncoming deadline.
    • Can It Stand Alone? I Don't Think So This blog was a head of time, although it didn't quite beat out the one above. Still counts though!



    I think my best contributions to the xenoblogging categories are my habits of trying to link to other blogs often and trying to be the first to comment on others' blog entries. Below is a few examples of each.

    • Litotes Although it's short, don't underestimate it. It still has room for a little link to Angela's blog.
    • Still Uncertain I link to Derek's blog in this entry. Derek's, along with Erica's, tend to have explanations that really help with the "muddy points" I find each week.
    • Bethany's blog is an example of when I was the first to comment on someone's blog. I tried to do this as much as possible so hopefully everyone would have at least one comment on their blog for the week.



For my wildcard, I wanted to show how much has changed since last year's El150 class (whether it's for better or worse, we'll have to wait and see). Below, I included an example of one of my portfolios from that class as well as a regular blog entry. All I have to say is that I'm glad I don't blog like that anymore.

    • Lots of Blogging + Little English = Too Much Frustration Umm... yeah in case you can't tell by this example, I hated blogging. Not that I still don't...
    • An Example of Telling? I love how the quote I chose for this one is definately bigger than what I wrote beneath it. And, as I look back over my old entries, I notice how many of them are titled with some sort of question. Not that I still don't ask alot of questions now, but it definately reminds me of how clueless I was last year. Wait, did that every change? Maybe...


              Overall, from creating this portfolio, the biggest lesson I learned was that I need to concentrate more on commenting and responding to the comments I received. I learned this especially through the blogging carnival, which at first I thought was a dumb idea, but I acutally learned a lot from it. I also really liked being able to use this portfolio to take a look at all the work I have done this year and compare it to my work from last year. I at least am getting the hang of this blogging, even if I'm not exactly getting the hang of everything we're learning in class. For the content of this portfolio, I can see that I have learned a lot, but I can see that there is plenty of room for improvement. I hope that by my next portfolio, I can look back on this one and think "Did I really not understand that?". I hope.


Go back to the course page.



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"Antithesis is a figure of speech in which words or phrases that are parallel in order and syntax express opposite or contrasting meanings" (Hamilton 64).

Hamilton also gives a good example of antithesis: "'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was season of Light, it was the season of Darkness..." (Hamilton 64). Another vocab term to look at for a mintute, and then forget so I can look it up again later.


No More Please

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"On the one hand, of course, increased literacy (if not substantially improved conditions of education) marked the generation of American women at mid-century, opening a vast market for a literature which would treat the contexts of their lives -- the sewing circle rather than the whaling ship, the nursery instead of the lawyer's office-- as functional symbols of the human condition" (Kolokny 196).

I felt like this essay was more of a history lesson than everything else. Maybe it was because everything I read is starting to all run together, I don't know, but I got some of what Kolokny was saying.

Some of the examples that were given about interpretations were decent explanations. I feel that I understand what was being said, but as I mentioned before in my other blogs, I'm not sure how to write a paper using reader response criticism. It seems like a lot of people are trying to use gender for their papers, but I would like to try something else, I just don't know what.

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"'Benito Cereno' formulates its indictment of antebellum radical ideology through first structuring identification with, or sympathy for, the character of Amasa Delano, and later exposing the terrible moral, political, and epistemological implications of a willingness to accept Delano's premises" (O'Connell 186).

This is what I mean when I read and stuff usually just flies right over my head. I understood the part where Melville was trying to make it look like the slaves were bad and the enemy, but I didn't get the part where Melville created the story to where it made Delano look bad because of what he said/thought about the blacks and some of the imagery that aided to his remarks. Like usual, I understand only part of what I am supposed to get and I'm completel oblivious to the second half. Did anyone else have the same problem or did someone else miss this too?

I also think it was interesting what O'Connell had to say about the narrator for this story: "The narrator is a shadow figure in 'Benito Cereno' who operates in the background, stirring the pot and adding murkiness that appears unnecessary to the plot (unless a crucisl plot element is seen to be the creation of confusion, not just in Delona, but in the reader as well)" (191).I really didn't completely understand this either. Does this mean alot of the information we were given throughout the story was used more as a distraction?

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Just Too Many

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"The three concepts of reader that we have dealt with start out from different assumptions and aim at different solutions" (Iser 144).

After reading this section, I now feel that reader response criticism is even weaker and less reliable than I had thought before reading this essay. It just seems that there are too many different readers and situations to think of in order to get anything concrete out of the form. I think one of my muddy point questions for this week will be: how many readers are we supposed to consider for reader response criticism? I'm not sure that this quesiton will have an answer.

Another interesting point I read was "the question remains open as to why, generations later, a reader can still grasp the meaning of the text, even thoug he cannot be the intended reader" (Iser 144). As Greta mentioned to me in a night class tonight, reader response criticism is definately not what either of us thought it was. I thought it was going to be more general, that this style of writing generates this type of reaction. However, it doesn't necessarily seem so. It seems that these writers are tying to take into accounts every individual reader and their reaction, which seems impossible.

Still Uncertain

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"The instant that was done, Don Benito sprang over the blwarks, falling at the feet of Captain Delano; at the same time calling towards his ship, but in tones so frenzied, that none in the boat could understand him" (Melville 518).

This story was long and annoying, and if not for the small hints that helped in trying to figure out what was going and who was against who, it would have progressed from a headache to a migraine to get through. Ok, now that I got that out, I can move on.

Towards the middle of the story, I knew that someone would end up attacking someone else before the story was over, it was only a matter of discovering who was against who. Melville could have had readers leaning several different ways: that he was presenting whites against blacks in the example of Benito Cereno being a captain over an almost all black ship, the black sailors dominating the white sailors in that they were only using Benito Cereno as an escuse to get to Captain Delano's boat, or it had nothing to do with race and was simply the crew of the San Dominick against Captain Delano's crew. I believe there are several other reactions possible as well, these are just to name a few.

By the end of the story, I viewed Melville's tale as how Derek kind of mentioned in his blog:  as a means of depicting how slavery was viewed at that time. I not only had a reaction towards this story, but also towards what we have learned literary criticism in general. There were many points throughout the story where I felt as if I could use formalism or some other type of criticism, but I wasn't sure how to start or approach it. I feel as if I have learned skills and recognize what they are, but I still can't apply them or at least don't feel comfortable with applying them. I still don't feel as if everything has quite clicked yet.


The Illusionist

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"Gabriel felt humiliated by the failure of his irony and by the evocation of this figure from the dead, a boy in the gasworks. While he had been full of memories of their secret life together, full of tenderness and joy and desire, she had been comparing him in her mind with another. A shameful consciousness of his own person assailed him. He saw himself as a ludicrous figure, acting as a pennyboy for his aunts, a nervous, well-meaning sentimentalist, orating to vulgarians and idealising his own clownish lusts, the pitiable fatuous fellow he had caught a glimpse of in the mirror. Instinctively he turned his back more to the light lest she might see the shame that burned upon his forehead" (Joyce 165-166).

Well, it can be clearly seen that the life Gabriel had thought he had before learning about Micheal Furey was only an illusion that was created by his wife. Before Gretta had revealed her story of Micheal Furey. Gabriel had recognized that their marriage may have been going through harder times, yet he still wanted to be with her and was content with his life in general.

Once Gretta reveals to him the life she once had, not only does Gabriel's perspective of their marraige change, but his perspective of his life in general is changed. He now sees his life as one that is just going through the motions, that he was never of any real importance to any one, including his wife who was still in love with a dead boy. He also realizes that this will probably never change: he will continue to stay with Gretta, always knowing he is being compared to and considered less than Micheal Furey, he is becoming older and has missed out on opportunities for earlier life experiences, and his world which he is familiar with can only change for the worse such as the inevitable death of his aging aunts. The life experiences he realizes he is "paralyzed" to experience include true love, which his wife experienced with Micheal Furey yet never felt towards Gabriel.

As a reader, I felt slightly surprised at this section of the story. I realized that some form of paralysis would be presented in Joyce's work, but I didn't expect it to be presented like this. This paralysis seemed more severe than the paralysis that was presented in some of Joyce's other works in that Gabriel has been living an unrecognized paralyzed life all along and it has suddenly and bluntly been revealed to him. I think this type of paralysis was more powerful because of its ability to go unreconized by the victim for so long and then to have such a powerful affect on them after its discovery.

I saw this section as a turning point in Joyce's story. It went from an image of people being content with their lives to a person realizing their life wasn't as accomplished or as satisfactory as what they believed it to be. From my reaction, I viewed the role of paralysis in this story as being more intense in that it was undiscovered and with its discovery, it was found to be incurable and irreversible.

I tried to include a little of reader response in my blog, but looking back over it I don't think it worked. Can anyone give me some suggestions or an example of how you would apply reader response to this story?

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Can It Stand Alone? I Don't Think So

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"The real purpose of art is to answer the human need for an intelligible and satisfying vision of the universe and our place within it and to answer as well our many other psychic wants, few of which can be met by scientific truth or the brute facts of experience" (Keesey 132).

When I read the quote above, I think I ended up slightly analyzing my own reader reaction. I immediately thought of T.S. Eliot's claim that we don't have to write poetry about what we feel or what we experience. A few weeks ago, I was a little doubtful about Eliot's statement. Now, I think I understand. Writing is used to help us understand our lives and world, whether realistically or unrealistically.

After having this reaction to this quote, it made me think of another reaction that I had to an earlier quote, one that I wasn't quite so clear on. "Similarly, the sort of affectiveness found in numerous impressionistic essays that tell us how the critic felt while reading may seldom contribute directly to our general understanding of literature. In other words, while a good deal of the talk about literature has always been loosely affective, significant attempts to develop a consistent theory along these lines have been few, and most of these are quite modern" (Keesey 130). Does this mean that the reactions I would experience while reading would help me to talk about the work but not necessarily create a meaning/interpretation from the text? If I understood this right, then I can see how that would be so. For example, the reaction I had from the quote I used at the beginning of my blog gave helped me to recall prior information and to connect it to this writing, but it didn't neceassarily help me to develop a theory about Keesey's chapter. I think I kind of understand this.

Overall, as I mentioned in a comment on Greta's blog, I had a different understanding of reader reponse after Keesey's chapter than I had expected before I read it. I thought this type of criticism would be one that I could understand and possibly learn more easily, but instead I now view reader-response criticism as one that can't stand on its own barely at all. It just seems there are too many possibilities that can't often be combined to form criticism. Maybe I misunderstood what I read, but I just don't see reader-response criticism as being as useful as what I thought it could be. What I did find interesting though was the different psychologies that were involved in taking the different approaches to reader response criticism. They too each had their up and downs, but none of them seemed to have a near flawless approach.

As a side not, take a look at one of Keesey's sentences: "Most reader-response critics have little interest in authors or intended meaning" (129). Hmmmm....if this was in Keesey's casebook for the week, would there be a slight problem with him using "most" as part of his argument. Maybe, maybe not...I really don't know.

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Leaping Over Stepping Stones

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"An analogy is the comparison of a subject to something that is similar to it in order to clarify the subject's nature, purpose, or function. For example, medical science often uses analogies to describe bodily processes, such as comparing the liver to a filter to explain its function of removing wastes from the bloodstream" (Hamilton 76).

Once again, I found a term that I not only see mentioned in what I'm reading, but I frequently see examples of it and never knew there was a technical name for it.Sometimes when I look up some of these terms and realize how simple their meaning is, I feel a like I am just walking over some basic steps that are necessary to literary criticism and just the study of literature in general. I feel like a doctor trying to evaluate a patient except that I never took Medical Terminology in college. Did I just make a small analogy? Maybe...



So That's What I Can Look For

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"What is notable about this kind of analysis is that, like Formalismm it brackets off the actual content of the story and concentrates entirely on the form" (Eagleton 95).

I really liked the paragraph right before this quote that took the example of the short story of the boy falling into the pit and dissected it according to structuralism. However, once I got to this quote, I got a little confused. How is structuralism different from Formalism? Isn't it just a part of Formalism?

I know that later in the chapter, the difference and reason was discussed: "...although Formalism is not exactly a structuralism. It views literary texts 'structurally', and suspends attention to the referent to examine the sign itself, but it is not particularly concerned with meaning as differential or, in much of its work, with the 'deep' laws and structures underlying literary texts" (Eagleton 97,98). However, even after this explanation, I'm still not sure exactly how the two are different.

I thought structuralism was a really interesting form of criticism. I think it really helped me to understand more of what I can look for when I'm reading. I think one of the problems I have when it comes to criticism is that I don't know what to focus on or look for in an observation. When I read someone's essay, I always think how amazing it is that they can pick out so many details and then pin so much meaning to them. With these chapters, I feel that I am slowly learning some observation skills that I can use.

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Not 100% Formalism...Is it?

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"(The Petrarchan lover, for example, as Shakespeare well knew, frequently found a beautiful and cruel mistress)" (Brookes 87).

Brooks was explaining some formalist theories and/or approaches in his essay, but this sentence stood out for me. Doesn't this sentence belong to historical criticism, not formal criticism because it is referring to what Shakespeare knew at the time he was writing. When I read the information around it, I wasn't really sure if this sentence was going against what Shakespeare had written or if it was being used to prove it, but either way it was being used in an essay that was focusing on formal criticism. Is this where the statement that there are few pure formalists comes to light?

I think it was also interesting that Brooks claimed "the poems never contain abstract statements" (86). I guess this would be true when using formalism because each sentence and each word would have its own purpose in the text. However, I still find it hard to believe that there aren't any abstract statements in poetry. Wasn't it Kent or Keesey that said the last line in Keats's Ode on A Grecian Urn was abstract? Maybe I am mistaken, but I believe one of them did. Although Brooks may believe there aren't any abstract statements in poetry, I would have to disagree. I'm don't know exactly why, but I just can't completely accept that statement.

I thought Brooks discussion of irony was different too. "Irony, then, in this further sense, is not only an acknowledgment of the pressures of a context. Invulnerability to irony is the stability of a context in which the internal pressures balance and mutually support each other" (Brooks 87). So is Brooks saying that if a work containes irony, it is not stable? 



Something a Little More Concrete

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"Indeed, as long as the poem is supposed to exist in isolation from other contexts, it is difficult to see how the formal critic can find a basis for any value scheme at all. But in practice most formalists do not really isolate the poem so completely" (Keesey 80).

As Angela kind of commented on in her blog, for some reason I felt so much better after reading this chapter. I feel like I finally had something explained to me, that I wasn't just reaching in the dark and hoping I would find something useful.

There was a lot I felt that I could blog about in this chapter. I feel like Keesey really disected formalism to the point to where I might have a chance at actually trying it on a poem and recognizing that that was the crititcism I was using.

When we first talked about formalism, I thought it was very strange that formalists supposedly looked only at the form and parts of the poem while ignoring everything else. I thought that to understand or derive some meaning from a poem using that method would be impossible. I also believed that if meaning/interpretations could be created through this method, that they would be so far from the "truth" or "original intention" that they would be useless. The quote I chose above helped me to understand that formalism often time isn't taken on its own. I think thats how most criticism is: you can say you are using only a certain method, but really you are using a slight combination of other methods as well. Also, there can't really be a truth or determination of original intention, but I did understand from the text how formalism can sometimes help to determine the value of the poem.

After reading this chapter, I realized how important each form of criticism is the other, and how each has its own holes that leads to a slight incompleteness that denies any of them the right to be declared the best method of criticism. I think for me I just need to keep learning what the missing parts are so I know how to best defend the claim I make for my paper.


A Step by Step Process

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"Looking both backward and forward, acting as climax to the first two stanzas and as prophetic of the fourth stanza'a discovery, the third stanza occupies a pivotal position in the ode's entire dramatic trajectory" (Kent 115)

I think it helped that I read Keesey's Chapter 2 before I read this section. Keesey covered formalism in detail, and it made it much easier to understand some of what Kent was discussing in his essay.

I understood how Keesey used grammar and rhetoric to determine the importance of the third stanza in Keats's poem, but what bothers me is that I don't think I could come up with an observation like that on my own. I know I'm not expected to have anything close to the writers of the essays in our book, but some of the points they bring up, such as Kent, seem so obvious and yet when I first read the poem, I know I never would have probably picked out any of the points he mentioned.

Even though I do feel a little uncomfortable about how well I am at observing the "form" of the poem, I think after reading some of these essays, I will know what and how to focus my attention better to have more useful observations. I just find it amazing that little parts of the poem, can reveal so much about each section of it. For example, on page 113, in the first paragraph, Kent describes how all of the apostrophes in each stanza serve a different purpose. When I read that section, I thought about the first time I read the poem when it was on the overhead in class and thought "What meaning am I ever going to get out of this poem?". Now I know that even the slightest details can have important functions.

I think the part that was the most confusing for me about this essay was when Kent was talking about the urn being below language: "Life on the urn is not however, bilingual as the French word might fancifully suggest; as Keats discovers, this life is not even unilingual. The urn's life is beyond, or possibly below, language" (Kent 114). I didn't understand how he found the urn to be below language. If anyone else has a better grasp on this paragraph, please feel free to share it.

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What's his purpose?

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"Gonzalo's guilt valorizes his conduct and speech" (Yachinin 43).

I didn't really understand Gonzalo's role in The Tempest. Was he in the group who exiled Prospero and Miranda? If so, why did Prospero welcome him in the end. I was confused in what he had done and what his purpose was. Why did Shakespeare have him say all the random things he always said in order to try to brigthen the mood.

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Fast Pace

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"Repetition becomes a prominent figure in Shakespeare's late style generally, and The Tempest in particular derives much of its poetic power from phonetic, lexical, and syntactial reiteration" (McDonald 101).

There were a lot of quick, back and forth conversations in The Tempest. The occured so often and so quickly that they gave the play a really fast pace. Despite how short some of the lines were in these quick conversations, alot of them were packed with lots of important details. I did notice the repetition that occurred throughout the play, however I wasn't really sure of its importance. This play was just so much more fast moving than some of his other works.

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Avoiding the Norm

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"If we are anxious to pretend that poems could ever 'exist indenpendently of the author's intentions,' we had better banish all idea of the norm" (Watson 32).

So is Watson saying that the norm is people usually believe that writing cannot be interpreted unless we consider the author's intentions? Does this mean the norm usually interprets according to the historical method, or can just looking at the author's original intentions be done without refering to background information. I'm getting a little confused because it seems so many of these critics are criticising each others methods for interpretation and its hard to keep them all straight. It seems so far, however, that most of the critics disagree with the historical apporach to interpreting works and side with more of a Formalist viewpoint. I'm not sure which side to agree on because they are all starting to sound so much of the same to me.

Where do I start?

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"I shall laugh myself to death at this puppy-headed monster. A most scurvy monster. I could find in my heart to beat--" (Shakespear 106).

I really don't know why I picked this quote, but I didn't really have a reason for chosing any of the other ones. This play I think is really going to be a challenge for writing this weeks paper. Not only am I still confused from our discussion last week, but I have no idea how I'm supposed to write a paper onauthor intent about Shakespear when I think I missed the mark on last week's paper which was only about a short story. I'm not even sure where to start. What I enjoyed most about this play was that it was a faster read than what I thought it was going to be. Thank God.


Keesey vs. Hirsch...?

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"Because a study of the circumstancse of the poem's composition, no matter how carefully conducted, can never tell us much about these features, it can never lead to critical interpretation. The historians' tendency to treat the poem like any other kind of document, their failure to conceive of poetry as a special use of language, deflects attention to nonesstenial, "unpoetic" factors, and when historians do provide interpretations, they are likely to be reductive. (Keesey 13).

After reading this section, and comparing it to the method that Hirsch used in his essay, is Keesey criticizing those like Hirsch who take a more historical apporach to literature when trying to narrow down interpretations? I agree partly with what Keesey says in these chapters about how you have to look at the poem itself when trying to interpret it rather than focus soley on what the author could have been thinking when he wrote it. However, I don't think the historical approach is as useless as what I feel Keesey is making it out to be. I think the histrical approach should be one of many ways you should look at a work when trying to interpret it. Am I on the right track when I say that Keesey is kind of rejecting Hirsch's method? I just wanted to make sure I understood his claims clearly, please let me know.

Back to what I was saying, what Keesey is talking about in these chapters reminds me a little of what we were discussing last week. Although I did learn alot about the mistakes I made in trying to find the author's intent for "The Yellow Wallpaper", I still felt as thought our discussion was running circles around itself. Keesey highlighted some approaches that could be taken to interpret literature other than the historical. I guess I can use Keesey's chapters to kind of draw somewhat of a conclusion from what I think I was learning last week: the historical method of interpretation shouldn't be the only method used and can sometimes be very limiting (if not completely useless?) when trying to interpret literature.




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"Anaphora is the intentional repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of successive lines, stanzas, sentences, or paragraphs. It is used frequently in both poetry and prose to create emphasis..." (Hamilton 64).

It's just repeating the same word or phrase at the beginning of multiple sentences. For example, in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8: "a time to be born, and a time to die/ a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted" etc.


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Who is speaking?

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"The array of possibilities only begins to become a more selective system of probabilities when, instead of confronting merely a word sequence, we also posit a speaker who very likely means something" (Hirsch 19).

Hirsch provides alot of back up for his claim that a critic needs to look beyond just the text in order to understand an author's intent and the meaning of the work. I liked the point that he made that we can talk about a car with easy understanding from others today, but if someone were to read about a car hundreds of years from now, would they still understand what we were talking about? Putting a face to the voice/phrase really helps to understand why a phrase was written. Although, as Hirsch pointed out, it can't lead directly to the right interpretation, it can certainly help to narrow down the possibilities and even create perspectives that may not have been possible when only looking at the text alone.

"...no mere sequence of words can represent an actual meaning with references to public norms alone" (Hirsch 19). This point really helped me to being to side with Hirsch in his claim. Without adding a face or voice to what is being said, how can we know for sure what was intended. A phrase that was written two hundred years ago taken by itself may not have the same meaning in today's society. However, adding a voice and background to that phrase, it helps to understand more what the original intent for the phrase might have been.


"Dear John! He loves me very dearly, and hates to have me sick. I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day, and tell him how I wish he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Julia.

But he said I wasn't able to go, nor able to stand it after I got there; and I did not make out a very good case for myself, for I was crying before I had finished" (Gilman 534).

Although I also believed that the narrator suffered from post partum depression because of the few references to the baby, I also believe that John had a huge part in her reaction to the wall paper and to her mental break down. I don't think her depression was what drove her to become obsessed with the wall paper and "creep" at the end of the story, but instead John.

The narrator expressed at different times throughout the story that she wanted to socialize with friends and she wished she could deal better with her baby. It was John who was keeping her away from interacting with others and he drove her into isolation.

I think when the narrator sees the woman standing behind the bars in the wallpower, it is representing her feeling of wanting to escape not so much her depression, but rather John. In the end, when John faints, the narrator doesn't try to help him or try to creep around him. Instead, she crawls over him, treating him like nothing else except an obstacle that she was finally able to overcome to continue doing what she wanted.

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Eagleton = ADD while reading

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"Fierce rearguard actions were fought by both ancient Universities against this distressingly dilettante subject: the definition of an academic subject was what could be examined, and since English was no more than idle gossip about literary taste it was difficult to know how to make it unpleasant enough to qualify it as a proper academic pursuit" (Eagleton 29).

After reading these two chapters of Eagleton, my eyes wanted to fall out and I think anyone talking to me would have sworn I had ADD because my attention span was shot. Although it was a very nice detailed history lesson that has a lot of useful information, I'm not exactly sure how much I really got out of all of it. Even though I read through it all once and some of the sections a few more times, there was so much information involved that it had me not exactly confused but more just overwhelmed with the amount of information present.

There were some points that did stick out for me, probably because they had a more personal value than some of the other facts. I chose the quote above because I can relate to it. Dr. Jerz pointed out last class that I tend to look at literature from a practical view point. I sometimes do probably because of the way I measure the English major to another major such as a science or language, etc. English seems to deal with a lot of opinion or "idle gossip" that we spend hours studying. But, even before I read the rest of "The Rise of English", I still undersstand that studying literature is important and necessary. Reading that section did help me with that because it gave me more back up into being more positive about studying English and not always letting the practical part interupt. Unfortunately, I'm not real sure what else I got out of these chapters. I learned information, but I'm not sure what I want to say about it or explain about it for a blog entry.

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