Literary Criticism

This site contains my work during the course of English 300 at Montana State University-Bozeman in the Autumn of 2004.


I am a senior at Montana State University working for a degree in history with a teaching option and also a minor in English. Currently I am working with the students at Bridger Alternative here in town and I am loving every minute of it. I can't wait to get out into the field and teach.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Our Term Paper Presentations

Zak: there is no truth-that itself is not a truthful statement
Andrea: there is no outside of the text-reform education
Matt: taking wisdom and comfort from the reading-everything happens for a reason
Debbie: poets create worlds better than our own
Katie W.: a way to interpret ourselves and the world around us-Walter Pater p. 841
Ed: expression within a work is important
Tristan: people will see what they want to see-first level of Reader Response:literary crit-see bigger picture
Nancy: a well-lived life is full of helping others more disadvantaged than you are.
Lindzee: literary criticism provides a better understanding of the text and the world
Amanda: take as much experience from each situation you can
Brian: what if prominent people in history had been influenced by just one other person. e.g. Hitler going to Art School
Dan: well-lived life is one who has reached meaningful understandings-except for Math
Nikole: Words are powerful tools, rhetoric successful, people are communal histories
Katie S.: Objectivity and Immersement (classicism and romanticism)
Laura: fictional books offer us experiences that we wouldn't otherwise experience
Ray: all aspects of literature are important
Becky: Reader Response from Structuralists and Deconstructionists
Jennie: English majors think about the world
Opai: the Matrix, racial reading and the Well-Lived Life
Francoise: Canon needs to be more multicultural
Megan: strong emotion, growth from new perspectives
Ben: read and recognize other perspectives
Brian D.: Poetry is what we see with poetry seeing eyes.
Susan: once you've studied criticism you can't go back.
Yoshie: feminism and why she left Japan
Mandy: each critic's opinion influential
JR: English opens up to new views-wants to look smart and hot
Jamie: meaning of literature and meaning of life-find your own God
Dustin: intense struggle in language when talking to a Deity
God is what we see with God seeing eyes.

Literary Criticism, the Well-Lived Life and Angel Tree Toppers

Literary Criticism is influential in our lives whether we like it or not. Everything we do, see or experience we judge or criticize. This may apply to something literary or something else entirely. In this way Reader Response is the ultimate criticism in that we as the audience interpret the text and that everything including the author can be read as a text. Regardless of what the feminists, deconstructionists, formalists, structuralists or post colonialists have to say they still must go through the process of Reader Response to form their criticisms. How else would they become critics?
This paragraph is my Introduction to my Term Paper, "Literary Criticism and the Well-Lived Life. As you can guess, my paper covers the idea that everybody is a critic regardless if we mean to or not. The first point I made in my paper was my opinion on Angel Tree Toppers. I discussed in class how I believed Angel Tree Toppers were better because they could be decorated in any color to match any decor. Yet I also pointed out that after Santa we needed a prominent female figure for the Christmas tree. Using this I argued that this may be my opinion because I'm a woman or it may be because I have studied feminist criticism this semester in this class and am now utilizing it no matter where I go. Yet I pointed out that even after all of this, I'm still using Reader Response as my ultimate device of criticism.
My paper goes in the fact that anybody and everybody can be a critic, but anybody and everybody can also be a writer. Everybody should just keep in mind that we all have our opinions and in writing and critiquing and that we should not be afraid of anyone else's ideas. In this way we can all live a Well-Lived Life. Especially if we decorate our Christmas trees with Angel Tree Toppers.

"Our Play" as Presented by Group Two

This play was inspired by our four themes given to us at the beginning of the semster: Drama, Author, Feminism and Medeval Theory.
3 Actors sitting in front of a table.
Author follows Director in.

Author: "You can't interpret my play like that! It wasn't written that way! This is an outrage, an intentional fallacy I say!"
Director: "That is your problem! You only wrote it down! I am the interpreter! I am the director! I am the Dramatist! I think outside of the box!"
Author: "Well! You should interpret the drama correctly! You're making my play sound absurd rather than the serious myster it ought to be!"
Director: I've interpreted your play using Archetypes, yes! Full of archetypes your writings are, all writing is, just watch the wonderful actors I've picked out! Great dramatists! You! (Pointing to the first actor sitting). Improvise, on...oh, I don't know...Feminism! Improvise on Feminism!
Actor One: "We women need and value rights! Throughout history we have been denied the same rights as men, only until recently have we had similar privileges! Look at the classrooms today! Women are being educated like men! Some of us have loosened our straight jackets and have written personal, feminine-inspired narratives! We even have theories on the "male gaze" and how it affects audiences! The feminist movement has advanced incredibly and has increased our awareness of women in society!"
Author: "WHAT! What does feminism and its movement have anything to do with my play! My play is a mystery! the play I WROTE is a mystery!"
Director: "You, you, you! Its all about you and your intentional meaning of the play! I had the actor act out feminism to show you what talent I have here!"
Author: "Precisely! ACTOR! A male acting as a female feminist to prove to me that you have talent here to act out my play! How about a little mystery here? THAT is what my play is about!"
Director: "You don't find feminism a little mysterious? Besides, only in error is there truth!"
Author: "W-w-what? NO!"
Director: "Fine! Maybe you'll find this a little mysterious! You! (pointing to the 2nd actor) Improvise on Medieval Theory!"
Author: "WHAT! are you on something, drugs perhaps?"
Director: "Wait...this should be interesting."
Actor Two: "Our faith and reverence should be to God! All of our writings and paintings should be about God! Chivalry? Did you mean chivalry? All acts of chivalry are made in God's name! Think of the quest for the Holy Grail! Monty Python said it best when God spoke from the Heavens and yelled, 'Arthur! King of the Britons!' and sent him on a quest, a chivalric quest for the most Holy Grail!"
Author: "And that, has WHAT exactly to do with my play?"
Director: "There is no medieval theory in you play?"
Author: "Have you even read the play?"
Director: "Well, yes, at the bar...the other evening...where I met you!"
Author: "For your clarification, medieval theory is NOT found in my play, and medieval theory is even further from feminism! What on EARTH are you trying to prove to me!"
Director: "Medieval theory and feminism are related, and so I give my actors true freedom! And in so doing, they have the ability and freedom to invent themselves! As modern women in patriarchal times. It will be a blockbuster of a play! Let us prove it to you! You! (pointing to the 3rd actor) Improvise on feminism IN medieval theory!"
Actor Three: "But...Director..."
Author: "Good Grief. Not even your actors know what you are trying to do."
Director: "Wait, she just needs to compose herself. It takes a little time to re-invent the gender image."
Actor Three: "There weren't any feminists in the medieval age. We weren't allowed! Women were expected to be subordinate to men as ordained by God! The most mention of women in stories and histories are of damsels in distress! Surely you wouldn't find feminism in medieval theory! As for you two, (pointing at the Director and Author) you need to figure out the roles of Dramatist and Author!"
Author: "Oh! All right! You and your "intertextuality" as a dramatic Director may interpret my writing, but for my sake, please, read the TEXT of my play carefully!"
Director: "I think you are experiencing anxiety of authorship."
Author: "Out! Get out! And don't come back until you can read my play with "play" reading eyes."
Actor One: "May I suggest a pharmoacon? It really helps me get to sleep at night."
Author: "No!"
Actor Two: "Oh, this is such bad 'aura'! I can't work under these conditions! I'm going home to meditate existentially on my meaningless existence."
Author: "My play is tattered to shreds by inaccurate interpretation, the actors are "free to invent themselves" whatever that means. The director is a Loon! My carreer is over!"
Long sigh.
Everyone stands and watches as the Author slumps down into a near by chair, depressed. Lights fade.

An Opinion on Censorship

Censorship can be considered both a good and bad thing. I think it is appropriate for those below a certain age, take the movie ratings for example, I agree with those as a form of censorship. However, I believe that when one is older than the age of 17 they should be able to handle almost any image, etc. I believe that when they see these sorts of grotesque images that it is almost a Catharsis or a "cleansing of emotions". If they see these then as the ideas of Pharmakos go the public would be less likely to act on any of these grotesque notions that may be illustrated in pictures or the movies, etc. Yet again I am not a psychologist, I only call it as I see it from my studies of History and English.

Rebuttal of the Canon

I personally do not like Canons because books should not be categorized according to the best of anyone's opinion. Besides, if one goes by any Critic's standpoint, each would have their own list of what was best or not. To do this, they would need to use Reader Response and this could never fit everyone's opinion, so to attempt to make a list of the best is ridiculous. I personally would rather walk into the library and just take in the smell of all the books and then go about my berry choosing.