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.

Bye 

 

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2 Comments

Michelle Tantlinger said:

I just left a comment on Bethany's blog about an essay written by Gilman on why she wrote The Yellow Paper. It's interesting that sometimes discussions can be put to an end by a 200 word essay from the author her/himself.

Z. A. Straub said:

I think you're right Katie,
because if you refer to Keesey's other three pillars; that of the:
-mimetic perspective
-reader response perspective
-linguistic perspective.

then his logic doesn't seem to follow, unless we're missing something? If one may analyze the latter three perspectives, shouldn't one be able to infer a historical concept based on them? If the work is mimetic of the time period, as well as what influenced the audience, along with the language used, should it not be sufficient?

I think Keesey's got beef with the fact that the work itself cannot CRITICALLY portray a historical context, which makes sense philosophically if you refer to Plato and Aristotle's reasoning on 'truth,' towards the mimetic arts.

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