March 11, 2007

Conventions, Conventions, Conventions

"A particular poem can be understood only by someone who understands its conventions, but these conventions must be learned by studying similar poems, and a reading of each of these requires in turn a knowledge of conventions" (Keesey 275).

So I'm thinking "conventions" might be important with this theory- just a hunch. The word was mentioned three times in one sentence and countless times in the article. Probably important.

Why does this form of criticism remind me of Justin Timberlake's new song, "What Goes Around Comes Around"? (Other than the fact I am listening to it right now) Because, strangely enough, it relates quite well (minus all the stuff about a gilted lover- just ignore that part). In the Introduction we see that intertextual criticism is like a circle- we must know something about the conventions and type of literature in order to understand the literature...and how do we learn these conventions? By reading more literature. It's a beautiful and unbreakable circle. Everything about literature just builds off of each other with intertextual criticism. It's kind of like math (ew)- you have to know how to do one problem before you can do another. Same with literature, in a way- you have to know how to read and understand a poem (as well as understand and identify the literary conventions used to create a poem or any piece of literature) in order to evaluate it against others.

To base a critical look of literature off of other similar forms of literature and the traditionally accepted conventions seems to question other types of criticism- or at least that's how Keesey presents it. He always tries to make a case for whatever method he is describing, probably because as editor, he has to. However, it seems as if he is dismissing the other forms in favor of this one being more "correct" and less troublesome than the others. Formalism- look outside the box. Authorial intent- eh, who cares. Reader-response- who are these readers anyway? It all boils down to the poem itself and how it is read and measured against others of its kind and the conventions of literature that create the form as well.

However, to me, it seems that intertextual criticism can get a little confusing. If we are caught in this circle of only being able to understand the text by reading and understanding others, than where is our starting point? Do we hold one text up to Shakespeare, because he is one of the "Greats" or Shakespeare up to another text, because they are similar? And can these conventions, in which we place so much attention, be differed? I understand the point, and the purpose of intertextual criticism and find it an interesting idea, although maybe as a "side" to another form of criticism as well. If we can mix criticisms with literature, drawing a little here and a little there, then intertextual criticism would make a lovely addition to another form when evaluating literature.

Keesey, Ch 5 (Introduction) -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by VanessaKolberg at March 11, 2007 3:08 PM | TrackBack

You are definitely right with many ideas about the conventions of the intertextual criticism. I find it difficult to try to make a relation, but after reading the Culler essay, and the Keesey essay, I found that these conventions still set up meaning to a cultural situation that could be comparable to another piece of literature. I actually look at the intertextual criticism as a comparison to a canonical criticism, because we find similarities, or rather a dependence from one piece of literature to another, except they are not written by the same author. Keesey definitely clears some ideas about the intertextual criticism that helped me move along, and I see that he helped you as well.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at March 14, 2007 2:02 PM

Tying in JT to Lit Crit? I never thought the day would come, Vanessa.

I think it's up to the reader to decide what kind of works would be worth comparing to the work in question. I had a very difficult time with the intertextual reading of Pale Fire just because I don't know of any works that are similar. I found out that Pale Fire and the book we're reading for YA Lit now--Something Wicked This Way Comes--were published the same year. But that doesn't mean I'd try to use the text of one to justify/unjustify another--they're using two completely different styles and genres.

I see Jay's response up there, and I do suppose he's right. Maybe, if we can't find authors who write the same way, perhaps we can find authors who talk about the same subject or cultural situation.

Posted by: Valerie Masciarelli at March 15, 2007 10:50 AM
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