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February 12, 2007

Prior Knowledge Ruins Everything for those New Critics

Watson, ''Are Poems Historical Acts?'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

"When a reader recognizes a novel to be such, or chooses it because it is such, he is certainly using evidence from outside the work as well as evidence within it. He is recognizing features in the novel he holds in his hands which resemble those in other novels he has read" (32).

Interestingly, this reminds me of Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent" as well as stuff I have been reading in Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor. Basically, nothing exists in a vacuum and Watson is pointing that out. He argues that really, trying to look solely at the text in isolation because we already have prior knowledge that affects our reading of a poem. Therefore, poems must, in fact, be historical acts.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at February 12, 2007 11:59 PM


Good point Lorin. I didn't see it in that way. I never thought to take into consideration that we all have prior knowledge of a different nature and that would mean that the poem is going to read differently to any individual person.

Posted by: Tiffany at February 14, 2007 10:10 AM

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