i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

Jesus Done It - EL 150

January 29, 2005

I really enjoyed this week's reading of How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas Foster.

I love the concept of intertextuality. It's something that I've thought about before but never had a word to tie it all together. Intertextuality is the way to describe how different pieces of literature all seem to fit together forming an initally unsuspected whole. I like how Foster mentions Shakespeare as being a primary source of intertextuality especially the line "All right, so the Bard is always with us."

Foster makes the point that all of us, when we read a new piece of literature, want the reading to be simultaneously familiar to all those things we have read before and unique offering a new perspective so that we aren't bored. So when a writer using a familiar story (such as those by Shakespeare, about Jesus, or common fairytale) it is almost as if s/he is using a familiar skeleton and creating from the bones a new creature.

The chord of familiarity striken by the skeleton eases up the pressure on the reader to analyze and makes the story comfortable. The new flesh coating (if you will.. ick!) breathes fresh air into the story and we aren't bored by the same old same old and still not completely terrified by a new concept.

This is probably why experimental fiction has such a hard time getting off the ground - people don't like changes. Using an old story to make a new one is okay. Making a complete new story by inventing a new format, apparently, is not.

Moira at 02:20 PM :: Comments (3) :: ::

Look who blogged like crazy today! Go Moira...

I think I'm going to have to get my hands on a copy of this book. I had Intro. to Lit last spring, and the readings were different, so this would be helpful to me, I think. There's another book I want to look at called "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves;" someone told me it's about mechanics and punctuation--my kind of stuff!

Thanks for the low-down on the literature :-) Keep us updated!

Posted by: Karissa at January 29, 2005 10:28 PM

I did go a little crazy on the blogging action yesterday (I might do the same thing today as well...) It's just that Monday - Wednesday are so crammed full with work and school that the last thing I want to do when I get home is be forced to sit at my computer for hours (I'll do it anyway, but then it's voluntary, ya know?)

This book is pretty awesome. If you want, I'll bring it to class on Thursday so you can have a look at it? I haven't gotten Eats, Shoots & Leaves yet because the bookstore is out of it, but I've heard that one was good as well.

Posted by: moira at January 30, 2005 08:52 AM

Karissa, because we now have Media lab as the place to introduce journalism concepts, I've dropped the journalism component of EL150, and that left room for me to add two books -- one about literature, and one about punctuation -- that I think will help us get more heavily into both of those topics. We're still doing The Diamond Age, Wit, and plenty of other texts... I do always tweak a course each time I teach it, so that the students will read at least a few texts that I myself have never read (or at least never taught) before. That keeps the class discussions fresh.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 30, 2005 09:31 AM
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