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The Politics of Criticism

...Any body of theory concerned with human meaning, value, language, feeling and experience will inevitably engage with broader, deeper beliefs about the nature of human individuals and societies, problems of power and sexuality, interpretations of past history, versions of the present and hopes for the future." (170)

"It is not a matter of regretting that this is so--of blaming literary theory for being caught up with such questions, as opposed to some 'pure' literary theory wich might be absolved from them. Such 'pure' literary theory is an academic myth: some of the theories we have examined in this book are nowhere more clearly ideological than in their attempts to ignore history and politics altogether." (170)

"There is of course no harm in students questioning the values conveyed to them: indeed it is part of the very meaning of higher education that they should do so." (Eagleton 175)

You will have to excuse me for going on and on with the quotes, but I found these interesting. The idea of politics being involved in all aspects of literary theory makes sense. Politics is a part of everyday life, even when we are not conscious of it. Every decision we make is somewhat political. Politics can be something quite different from just a government view point. There is politics in schools, churches, and jobs; why shouldn't it trickle into the realm of literary theory.

The human experience is laced with political ideas. The concern with society and most definitly the "problems of power and sexuality" all have political implications.
we have discussed in our blogs, as well as in the classroom, how impossible it is to separate most theories into compartmentalized pockets and solely dwell in one area. It seems that we must have several options to come to a clear, or somewhat clear, understanding of the text. Could this itself be political?

If there is no harm in students questioning "the values conveyed to them" then aren't we practicing politics by questioning? This whole idea of politics infiltrating several, if not all, aspects of our lives, including the politics of literary theory, is fascinating. I, for one, have never had a huge interest in politics, but there seems to be no getting around it. It surrounds us. History involves politics, feminism involves politics, even psychology involves politics, is there any way to dismiss politics from these different views of theory? What do you think?

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Comments (1)


Politics are found almost everywhere. In today's society, it is almost impossible to escape them. I left a comment on Katie's blog that I think is pertinent to your's as well. Check it out http://blogs.setonhill.edu/KatieVann/2009/04/the_feminist_critic_is_not.html

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 13, 2009 5:19 AM.

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