Loading in 2 Seconds...
Loading in 2 Seconds...
Selected Readings of Modern & Contemporary Literary Theories Why and How Before and After New Criticism Example 1: Rene Magritte Example 2: “Mindscape”
Discussion Starters • What is(are) your interested field(s) and how do you do literary criticism? • Which theoretic issues and literary theory do you like? Can you give some examples to discuss them? Examples: 1. Representation, Structure, Writing, Discourse, Narrative, Figurative Language, Performance, Author, Interpretation, Intention, 2. Unconscious, Determinacy/Indeterminacy, Value/Evaluation, Influence, Rhetoric, 3. Culture, Canon, Popular Culture, Literary History, Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Ideology, Diversity, Imperialism/Nationalism, Desire, Ethics, Class
Outline • Why? How is it related to Literary Criticism? • How? • Suggested attitudes • The focus of our course; • Contextualizing our focus: before and after New Criticism
Con: -- no longer “literary study,” ignoring the beauty or essence of literature (e.g. Frank Kermode clip 1; E. Said clip 5); -- “keep politics lukewarm”; a mere word play or mind game; abstract and obscure; separate from reality or politics -- “fetishization” of theories (T. Eagleton); clip 3 Pro -- Interdisciplinary clip 2 -- It provides us new frameworks and perspectives; helps us ask new questions of the texts we study and about our lives. -- democratization of English Studies.clip 4 e.g. my own experience Why Theory?
How? • Read with an active mind. (Do not feel “oppressed” by the difficult languages.) • Always read to get the main points (to find the questions the theory asks) and to ask questions. • Always try to relate and to map. (It’s impossible to separate all the theoretical discourses into mutually exclusive theoretical schools.)
Theory as an Activity vs. Theory as a body of knowledge • “In the former, theory is taught as a means of understanding the world; in the latter, theorizing is encouraged as a pedagogical practice in which students become actual participants in the use of theory.” (Henry Giroux’s ideas explained by Storey) • It’s better to know how to theorize than to memorize all the theoretical jargons.
General Questions to ask • What are the theorist’s main concerns? What questions does s/he ask and how does s/he answer them? Do you have any questions? • What are the theorist’s key terms? How are they defined? • What is the theorist’s method? Is a methodology explicitly laid out or is it implied? • (modified from “Doxography versus Inquiry” by Donald G. Marshall. Sadoff 84)
Articulation vs. Application • Application –one-to-one correspondence between a theory and a text; • Articulation (接連) of theories and texts, of different theories : connecting, negotiating, translating. • “wrestling with the angels”: “The only theory worth having is that which you have to fight off, not that which you speak with profound fluency.” (Stuart Hall textbook 1901)
The focus of our course: Writing in the Unconscious, Subject in Space • “The unconscious is structured like language”: our dream, our desires all tell various stories about ourselves or for our selves. • The Symbolic: We become a subject when entering language (the Symbolic). Topics: Oedipalization, the uncanny, narcissism, repetition compulsion, Trauma andlife story, – the different ‘plots’ we follow 3. “There is no unspatialized social reality” – Power relations in social space: e.g. Modes of Production, Class and Ideology, Discourse, spatial practice, and postmodern space
before and after New Criticism • Structuralism –Basic ideas of Ferdinand de Saussure? 1. The synchronic vs. the diachronic; langue vs. parole// competence vs. performance 2. Language is a system of difference. Meaning occurs in binary opposition between two signs. (e.g. toy, boy) 3. sign = signifier and signified; the connection between them is arbitrary.
Influences of Structuralism: some examples • Sign= signifier + signified referent • Language is not mimetic (a mirror, or a transparent container of reality); it constructs reality; it speaks us. • Binary thinking.
Politics/Truth vs. Plato – the realm of appearance vs. the realm of Form poetry twice removed Poetics Aristotle –Three unity, etc. Examples of binarism in traditional literary theories • Sir Philip Sidney: to teach and delight • The Mirror and the Lamp
Reason Plato – poetry tells lies and excites emotions. Pope -- golden rules; restraint, good taste, Dryden: "wit": propriety of thoughts and words Emotion/Energy Romantic poets: imagination New Criticism: Setting up Literature as a discipline (autonomy, organicism, etc.) An “objective” approach, just as Structuralism is scientific Examples of binarism in traditional literary theories (2)
More Fluid Binaries in contemporary theories • Politics vs. Poetics; • Art vs. popular culture; • Culture vs. Economic Relations; • Father vs. Mother; Lack vs. imaginary plenitude • fixity of meaning vs. fluidity of language, identity and culture, etc. The lines are no longer clear-cut. Autonomy and Absolute truth are out.
References • Storey, John, ed. .What is Cultural Studies: A Reader. London: Arnold, 1996. • Sadoff, Dianne F and William E. Cain, eds. Teaching Contemporary Theory to Undergraduates. NY: MLA 1994.
la neige: 雪 l’Orage