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EH 4301 Susan Sontag ◦ “usurped the place of a work of art” (Against Interpretations) Art = free, uninhibited Criticism = intellectual operation, dull & dry; reduced it to content to be interpreted Leslie Fiedler ◦ ecstatics (“ekstatis”) Emotional response instead of a dull analysis Feeling instead of intellect “go out of head” Terry Eagleton Marxist theory can explain ANY literary work Literary analysis has its proper place. ◦ Should not be used to the extreme. Can be taken too far Number of feminine rhymes in “Rape of the Lock” Number of trochees in Book 4 of Paradise Lost Hamlet’s weight problem Essential for fullest appreciation of literature. Knowledge is not in and of itself a deterrent to the enjoyment of literature. Application of interpretive techniques can enhance the pleasure that a common reader can derive from a piece of literature. Not an inferior response Breaking the Code ◦ “Call…me…Ish-ma-el.” Understanding the Idea ◦ This book is about a guy named Ahab who wants to kill a white whale named Moby Dick. Reacting Emotionally ◦ I was overcome with grief when everyone ended up dead, but was relieved that Ishmael lived to tell the tale. Critically Thinking ◦ This story is a good example of how one man’s obsession can cause ultimately lead to the downfall of many. ◦ I believe the white whale represents… Setting ◦ The where How we respond to setting May enjoy exotic settings Setting ◦ The where How we respond to setting May enjoy familiar settings Setting ◦ The where How we respond to setting If we aren’t familiar with setting, we may not gain full appreciation of work Plot ◦ The what ◦ Conflict involving the antagonist & protagonist Man Man Man Man Man vs. vs. vs. vs. vs. Man Nature Society Fate Self Character ◦ The who Stereotypes Complex Character ◦ The who Drawn to certain characters because of how they are developed by author: Believable Admirable Structure ◦ The writer’s arrangement of the material into a story Straightforward structure (action) Introduction Complication Resolution Structure Straightforward structure (action) Climax Introductory material Stable situation (dénouement) Structure ◦ The writer’s arrangement of the material into a story Stream of consciousness Mind of character Flow of sensations, thoughts, memories, associations, reflections Varied, disjointed and illogical elements Virginia Woolf James Joyce William Faulkner Style ◦ Word usage ◦ Sentence structure Sparse Hemingway Flowery Faulkner Use of allusion Use of dialogue Twain Walker Atmosphere ◦ Mood or feeling that permeates the environment Ties in usually with setting and/or characters “Young Goodman Brown” Ominous, dark Atmosphere ◦ Mood or feeling that permeates the environment Ties in usually with setting and/or characters Huckleberry Finn Humorous, irreverent Theme ◦ Meaning of work ◦ Message to reader Straightforward Uncle Tom’s Cabin Slavery is cruel and immoral and must go! Theme ◦ Meaning of work ◦ Message to reader Ambiguous “YGB” Meaning of faith/effects of evil Do we have an accurate version of what we are studying? What are we dealing with? Did earlier writings help this work come into being? Do we have an accurate version of what we are studying? ◦ Textual criticism “authentic text” “text that the author intended” What are we dealing with? ◦ Grouping or categorizing works Have certain expectations about various genres Epic Aeneid Odyssey Star Wars Did earlier writings help this work come into being? ◦ What are the origins of this work? ◦ What influences were at work to give it exactly the qualities that it has? Author’s manuscripts, notebooks, comments, etc. Edgar Allan Poe’s Philosophy of Composition Robert Frost’s manuscripts TEXT + CONTEXT = EFFECT Uncover linguistic codes operating at the time the author was writing. ◦ “Gay” 100 years ago “happy” Today Reveals sexual orientation The farther away we are from the original context, the more we have to work at making sense of the text. Does a text have only ONE correct meaning? ---OR-- Can a text have more than one interpretation? How does one arrive at the correct interpretation? ◦ What are the hermeneutical principles used to discover this interpretation? Are all interpretations valid? ◦ Can each interpretation be considered a legitimate analysis of the text? Who is to say that one’s interpretation is valid? ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ English professors? Professional critics? Published scholars? Any reader? Is a text always didactic? ◦ Is it intended to convey instruction? ◦ Must a reader learn something from every text? Does a text affect each reader in the same way? How is a text influenced by the culture of its author and the culture in which it is written? Can a text become a catalyst for change in a given culture?