February 10, 2007

Going against the general thread

Let me start of this entry by saying that I started reading this for last week when clearly it is due for this week. Like Karissa, I chose to just keep on trucking instead of reading my syllabus. That said, I found the argument made by Watson very interesting. There are two quotes that I found interesting in this work. In these quotes I think that Watson makes an excellent argument for the continuing of historical criticism.

The first quote I found interest is:

"...the literary historian is bound to assume a correspondence of some kind between what the poet and his age might reasonably be though to have in mind, on the one hand, and the ture meaning of the poem on the other" (30).

I think that the reason I found this quote so interesting is because it is what I believe criticism should be all about. I like to see when a critic interacts with both the poet's biography and age and relates that back to the work. I think that I gain a better understanding of the poem when things are done this way. To hear what people in a certain time thought about religion helps me to understand why a poet was speaking for or against that form of religion. This also refers to everything that happens during a time period ie the politics, the people, the culture. By working with both the poet's background and the text I believe that a deeper meaning can be gained. I'm not saying that this helps all the time. I'm just saying that when you look at a passage without knowing the author background you may look at it one way while if you do have the author background you may see it in a different light.

The second quote that really stood out to me is:

"To evade in all circumstances the study of the author's intentions, in fact, is at times to evade the meaning of the poem itself" (32-3).

I think that this stood out to me because of the discussion that we had this past week in Advanced Literature. I'll refrain from using names, but someone mentioned that works need to stand on their own and once they are out of the hands of the author they are pretty much open to the interpretation of the public. Watson on the other hand says that there is something to knowing the intent of the author. I think that this quote also implies that sometimes the work doesn't need any help in the interpretation, but when he says that we can "evade the meaning of the poem" when we don't know about the time period an author is writing in or the circumstances surrounding the author's writing it becomes difficult to get the whole picture about an author.

I can't help but mention at this point that if historical background wasn't important why would we as literature majors study the background of each of the authors in British Literature and World literature. Why would we study different time periods and major events that were occuring during those time periods? If it wasn't important did we waste our time?

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

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at February 10, 2007 2:10 PM | TrackBack

Well, I took those classes with you and I wasn't too fond of either. I do not think that it is necessary to understand the author's work by studying the time period that he/she lived in, but that doesn't mean that I think that it isn't helpful.

As literature majors, I think that we sometimes look too deep into the meanings, which make us lose the actual meaning of the poem/work.

Posted by: Gina at February 15, 2007 4:10 PM

Keesey is very carefully presenting a set of extreme opinions. As we read deeper in the book, we will see arguments for most of the things that we have seen argued against, and vice-versa.

At this stage in the course, it's not yet time to start choosing one method over the other; just concentrate on trying to understand and apply each one, with special attention to what its advocates say the benefits are.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at February 15, 2007 4:58 PM
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