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February 11, 2007

Is It Elementary, Watson ?

Are Poems Historical Acts, Watson

Literary Criticism--EL312

Now instead of looking at the author's biography...we are looking at the author type of writing or genre. Watson had noted that the very method of a poem has a relationship not only with the author but with the time as well. Watson wants us to look at "a poem as a historical act." Just as another part of "genetic criticism". If we look at a English sonnet for example, we look at the poets who wrote them such as Shakespeare and the finally the time, Elizabethean. Another example, an Epic poem, we can look at Milton, and the time would be somewhere near the Glorious Revolution.

Only today we realize that sometimes the method of find the meaning of a work is just as important as the menaing itself.

Posted by KevinHinton at February 11, 2007 10:39 PM


The method makes all the difference, as we've learned in Honegosky's class. If we are not using the write lenses, we may twist the meaning. I think while the biography/history isn't always necessary, it certainly gives us the keys to finding the right method.

Posted by: Erin at February 12, 2007 12:30 PM

Who determines which lenses are right? The historical critic will adamently support his view and refute another while the aesthetic or formal critic will do the same. What makes one more right than the other?

Posted by: Dave Moio at February 12, 2007 9:58 PM

I agree with Dave's sentiment that no one criticism is "better" than any other. Some poems and other writings lend themselves naturally to certain types of criticism. Kate Chopin, for example, is an good case of feminist/progressive criticism, but it is not always limited to that. One could very easily examine "The Storm" or "The Awakening" through a historical or formalist context.

I love your last sentence in that "only today we realize that sometimes the method of find(ing) the meaning of a work is just as important as the menaing itself."

If you are familiar with the joke "The Aristocrats," then you would understand the notion that sometimes the journey is the fun. The adventure of finding out the who, what and why is equally as satisfying as the actual resolution.

For a pretty alternative view on this essay, might I suggest reading my entry on it. Its long, but I would like to think I brought up something interesting.


I'd love to get some of your thoughts on it.

Posted by: Kevin at February 13, 2007 12:46 PM

I understand Watson's idea that the very method of a poem, the special uses of language, has a relationship not only with the author but with the time as well.
I think the different methods that can be incorporated into a poem allows for the reader to see the genre and allows for us to see the correct method to interpret the poem.

Posted by: Denamarie at February 13, 2007 8:27 PM

The time period IS just as important to a piece of literature, because it provides another piece of meaning behind a piece of literature. All of these conventions of these criticisms are just methods to try to find a deeper meaning in one piece of literature. Instead of looking at Keats in a sense that he was 25 years old when he died of tuberculosis, we should also look at the conventions of Romantic Writing in a period that appreciate nature, beauty, and political truth. Keats's era was one that fell away from logical thinking, and focused on what was important in relation to feelings. I think Watson brought up very valid points, and I think you did too.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at February 14, 2007 4:21 PM

I want to stand up for words, words, words. Thats all we have. We can assume what the author was going through in the time they were writing, their surroundings, their mental state, etc.. But all that bio stuff is pretty much a big guessing game. All we really have is the words. The text is, in my opinion the most important thing to look, but thats my opinion, and isn't opinion the one thing that matters?

Posted by: Mitchell Steele at February 15, 2007 4:12 PM

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