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More Reading Theory Dale Sullivan

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1 More Reading Theory Dale Sullivan

2 In reading great literature, I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. C. S. Lewis

3 Review of reader theory: DEFTing, reader response theory Reading cultural codes and signs, semiotics Author as creator of secondary worlds Author as creator of reader The model and implied readers in a role Filling gaps: inferential walks Aesthetic reader as creator of structure Virtual dimension of text Reader as “conventional you,” shared seeing

4 A Collection of Comments on the Reading, Seeing, and Criticism Lewis: reading the poiema and the logos Scholes: reading, interpreting, criticizing Hanson: seeing and theory Fish: demonstration and persuasion

5 “A work of literary art can be considered in two lights. It both means and is. It is both Logos (something said) and Poiema (something made). As Logos it tells a story, or expresses an emotion, or exhorts or pleads or describes or rebukes or excites laughter. As Poiema, by it aural beauties and also by the balance and contrast and the unified multiplicity of its successive parts, it is an objet d’art, a thing shaped so as to give great satisfaction” (132). C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism, Cambridge University Press, 1961.

6 “The parts of the Poiema are things we ourselves do; we entertain various imaginations, imagined feelings, and thoughts in an order, and at a tempo, prescribed by the poet” (133). “And if the Poiema... is devised by a master, the rests and movements, the quickenings and slowings, the easier and the more arduous passages, will come exactly as we need them; we shall be deliciously surprised by the satisfaction of wants we were not aware of till they were satisfied” (134). C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism, Cambridge University Press, 1961.

7 “A work has form in so far as one part of it leads a reader to anticipate another part, to be gratified by the sequence” (124). “The arrows of our desires [created by the narrative form] are turned in a certain direction, and the plot follows the direction of the arrows” (124). Burke, Kenneth. Couter-Statement Berkeley: U of California P, 1968.

8 “The mark of strictly literary reading... is that we need not believe or approve the Logos” (136). “It is no use... locating the whole goodness of a literary work in its character as Poiema, for it is out of our various interests in the Logos that the Poiema is made” (137). “We want to see with other eyes, to imagine with other imaginations, to feel with other hearts, as well as with our own” (137). C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism, Cambridge University Press, 1961.

9 “... we become these other selves. Not only nor chiefly in order to see what they are like but in order to see what they see, to occupy, for a while, their seat in the great theatre, to use their spectacles and be made free of whatever insights, joys, terrors, wonders or merriment those spectacle reveal” (139). “Logos... admits us to experiences other than our own.” C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism, Cambridge University Press, 1961.

10 “... rhetoric may be defined in many ways and on many levels, it is in the deepest and most fundamental sense the advocacy of realities” (31, emphasis in the original). Brummett, Barry. “Some Implications of ‘Process’ or ‘Intersubjectivity’: Postmodern Rhetoric. ” Philosophy & Rhetoric 9.1 (1976):

11 “The ideal reader shares the author’s codes and is able to process the text without confusion or delay. Such a reader constructs a whole world from a few indications, fills in gaps, makes temporal correlations, performs those essential activities that Umberto Eco has called writing ‘ghost chapters’ and taking ‘inferential walks’” (22). Scholes, Robert. Textual Power: Literary Theory and the Teaching of English. New Haven: Yale UP, 1985.

12 “The move from a summary of events to a discussion of the meaning or theme of a work of fiction is usually a move from reading to interpretation” (22). “From the point of view of interpretation, stories are better than essays because essays ‘say what they mean’ and stories do not, leaving that job for the interpreter” (22). Scholes, Robert. Textual Power: Literary Theory and the Teaching of English. New Haven: Yale UP, 1985.

13 “In a trivial sense, criticism involves a claim that a certain literary work fails to achieve the purely literary norms of its mode or genre. This is the field of ‘taste’” (23). “For our purposes, a more consequential sort of criticism involves a critique of the themes developed in a given fictional text, or a critique of the codes themselves, out of which a given text has been constructed” (23). Scholes, Robert. Textual Power: Literary Theory and the Teaching of English. New Haven: Yale UP, 1985.

14 “... criticism is always made on behalf of a group” (24). “... we must open the way between the literary or verbal text and the social text in which we live. It is only by breaking the hermetic seal around the literary text... that we can find our proper function as teachers once again” (24). Scholes, Robert. Textual Power: Literary Theory and the Teaching of English. New Haven: Yale UP, 1985.

15 “This does not mean that one is always a prisoner of his present perspective. It is always possible to entertain beliefs and opinions other than one’s own; but that is precisely how they will be seen, as beliefs and opinions other than one’s own, and therefore as beliefs and opinions that are false, or mistaken, or partial, or immature, or absurd. That is why a revolution in one’s beliefs will always feel like a progress, even though, from outside, it will have the appearance merely of a change” (emphasis in originial, 361). Fish, Stanley. Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1980.

16 “In short, we try to persuade others to our beliefs because if they believe what we believe, they will, as a consequence of those beliefs, see what we see; the facts to which we point in order to support our interpretations will be as obvious to them as they are to us. Indeed, this is the whole of critical activity, an attempt on the part of one party to alter the beliefs of another so that the evidence cited by the first will be seen as evidence by the second” (emphasis in original, 365). Fish, Stanley. Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1980.

17 “In the more familiar model of critical activity... the procedure is exactly the reverse: evidence available apart from any particular belief is brought in to judge between competing beliefs, or, as we call them in literary studies, interpretations. This is a model... of demonstration in which interpretations are either confirmed or disconfirmed by facts that are independently specified” (emphasis in original, 365). Fish, Stanley. Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1980.

18 “The model I have been arguing for, on the other hand, is a model of persuasion in which the facts that one cites are available only because an interpretation (at least in its general and broad outlines) has already been assumed” (emphasis in original, 365). Fish, Stanley. Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1980.

19 ... we have readers whose consciousnesses are constituted by a set of conventional notions which when put into operation constitute in turn a conventional, and conventionally seen, object (332). Of course poems are not the only objects that are constituted in unison by shared ways of seeing (332). Stanley Fish, Is There a Text in This Class


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