Literary Theory

Report
Literary Theory
• Dichotomizing Ordinary Language
and Literary Language
Ordinary Language Literary
Language
Meaning determinate
ever-changing
Ambiguity problem
goal
Surface form means to end
end
Domain universals
particulars
Analysis
necessary;
try to complete
interference;
never exhaust
Purpose
communication
expression
Rationality rational
irrational
Truth correspondence
coherence
cognitive psychology; artificial
intelligence; sociology;
anthropology literary
criticism; poetics' rhetoric;
stylistics; literary history;
aesthetics
Anti-Realism
• Graff: literature defamiliarizes reality;
criticism defamiliarizes literature
• Poirier: Literature has only one
responsibility--to be compelled and
compelling about its own inventions
• Bloom: A theory of poetry must belong
to poetry, must be poetry, before it can
be of any use in interpreting poems.
• Scholes: Once we knew that fiction was
about life and criticism was about fiction--and
everything was simple. Now we know that
fiction is about other fiction, is criticism in fact,
or metafiction. And we know that criticism is
about the impossibility of anything being
about life, really, or even about fiction, or,
finally, about anything. Criticism has taken
the very idea of "aboutness" away from us. It
has taught us that language is tautological, if
it is not nonsense, and to the extent that it is
about anything it is about itself. Mathematics
Tallis: degrees of realism
• Meyer L. Abrams (The Mirror & the
Lamp)
– Freund, 1987, p. 2: subversion of
triangle by focusing on audience
• Reader Response History
– return to reader
– resee language as power
– I. A. Richards (1929)
speak of the poem’s beauty
instead of entering upon
elaborate and speculative
analyses of its effect upon
us... we come temporarily to
think that the virtues of a
poem lie not in its power over
us, but in its own structure and
conformation as an
assemblage of verbal sounds
technical v. critical remarks
– Jonathan Culler: structure => theory of
reading (Freund, p. 79)
– Stanley Fish: interpretive community
but cf. Mary Louise Pratt:
linguistics of contact
– Norman Holland: psychoanalytic
criticism
– Roman Ingarden: phenomenological:
intentional creation of text
• Wolfgang Iser: reception theory
– Implied Reader (Tompkins); Act of
Reading (Suleiman & C)
– art as defamiliarizing
– situated evaluation figures
stories as recountings of
events
summaries as desired end
points
the main idea
– Impoverished view of author-reader
relationship
presence of author/reader
dynamic relationship
multiple roles
interactions of author/reader
– Rip Van Winkle: intro
– Sokolov: multiple embedding
– McPhee (Pine Barrens):
– Homer (Odyssey)
– Balzac (S/Z): "as though"
– Potter: "am sorry"
– McPhee (Bark Canoe): roles
– Kundera: I understood
• Romantic (focus on author; author's
meaning)
Mid-1700s
•
•
•
•
breakdown of patronage system
commercial printing
large reading public
mass education/standardization
unknown reader => shift to
author
• direct to psychic life of individuals;
indirect good
• Shelly: Eternal poets scorn to affect a
moral aim
• deification of poetry
=> ordinary language v
literary language
• New Criticism (focus on text; formal
properties)
• competition from science
• Brooks & Warren: Study poetry as
poetry
• A poem should not mean but be
Anti-realism: Self-sufficient
world; not mere representation
Wellek & Warren: The
statements in a novel, in a
poem, in a drama are not
literally true => not logical
propositions
Coleridge: That willing
suspension of disbelief that
constitutes poetic faith
Wimsatt & Beardsley:
intentional fallacy; affective
fallacy
Rhetoric of inquiry
• appeal to objective authority & denunciation
of rhetoric => one of most effective rhetorical
strategies available
• unity: all fields are rhetorical
• Donald McCloskey: economics
• Clifford Geertz, James Clifford, George
Marcus, Mary Louise Pratt, Renato Rosaldo:
anthropology
• Charles Bazerman, Bruno Latour, Stephen
Woolgar, Michael Lynch: science
Susan Peck McDonald,
Robert Scholes, Terry
Eagleton: literary theory
Hayden White, Allan Megill:
history
David Klemm: theology
Mark Kelman, Catherine
McKinnon: law
diversity: special devices
linked to key questions in
each field
• Ethnography (M L Pratt)
cover (Stephen Tyler in India)
ethnography as science
Malinowski quote, p. 27
(Clifford: “impossible attempt
to fuse objective & subjective
practices)
travel writing:
narration/description
ethnography:
description/narration
popular/scientific book pairs,
p. 31
encounter narrative (1st
person, etc)
Bushmen/!Kung writing
Shostak quote, p. 48
recognize that tropes are
neither natural, nor in many
cases unique to discipline
• Laboratory Science (Latour &
Woolgar)
philosopher, not know TRF(H);
Salk Institute, 1975-7
Sections A & B (p. 46)
papers as products, not
reports
strange tribe (p. 49)
photos (pp. 93-103)
inscription devices (p. 51)
Latour’s experience as
technician, p. 245
obsession with inscription (pp.
245-6)
methods
citation networks (mobilize
allies)
construction of a
fact/statement types:
conjecture/claim/qualified
assertion/assertion/unstated
black boxes
• American Essayist Prose
– sentence-sentence (decontextualized)
– text over experience
– fictionalization of audience & author

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