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    Theory and Text: the Ambiguous Object of Critique

    When "critical lens" are applied to texts, which should then serve as an object of critique: the theory that supplemented the text in the first place, or the text interpreted by the theory itself?

    • And, if you could add more - topics are essentially like a brainstorming of the article that is going to be written, so maybe clear up some vague topics. – scole 8 years ago
    • I would day that the critical lens is applied to the actual piece, as it is a form of literary theory. There's numerous approaches to reading a text: postcolonial, gender studies, historical lens, etc. etc. Usually, one of these approaches are applied to the actual piece read, and then you provide information from the leading scholars and theorists in this particular field as to how the text should be interpreted. – danielle577 8 years ago
    • It should be a mutual exchange between the chosen object of critique, the text, and the critical theorist's perspectives. To clarify, the author is mobilizing the work of someone else to a text which has either a) never been subject to said critique or b) never been subject to the author's interpretation of it through a "critical lens." Something to consider, in addition to the notion of "what" to critique is "how." If I claim to be deconstructing an anime for its representation of effeminate men through queer theory, equal attention should be drawn to whose critical text am I using, what aspect of their argument accentuates my point, and, because of the nature of Artifice, something else in the theorist's text not used. – JMIWrites 8 years ago
    • I write critical analyses of literature as part of my job, and my view is that the critical theory and the literary work both become objects of critique. The theory illuminates the literary work (it guides our close reading of the literary work, helps uncover patterns in the literary work, etc.) even as the literary work illuminates the critical theory (it serves as an example of or a complication to the theory being used). – JamesBKelley 6 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    There is some really complex thinking here, though I would disagree with two points. The idea that “a notion of tolerance necessitates a notion of racism” does not mean that tolerance of racism necessarily leads to or is indicative of racism. Necessity is used in two different senses here. Your use of it generally refers to the negative interrelated web of signs associated with Saussure; all signs necessitate other signs that are different from it, and this is what constitutes all of language as différance. Tolerance necessitating racism uses necessity in more of a philosophically conditional sense (i.e. if A then B). So while I do agree that tolerance of racism will necessitate a notion of racism, it only does so because of language as différance, rather than one concept logically entailing the other.

    It’s true that “racism and tolerance must fall on the same continuum; it is only though the implied existence of one that we can prove the explicit existence of the other,” however we must be careful not to explicitly construct a new binary that seeks to champion, privilege, or positively locate a “new racism” that uses tolerance as a thin appearance masking the old overt racism. To do so would run the risk of having your own line of thought deconstructed. As we come into a new age where overt forms of racism seem to be replaced with tolerance that is masking a more subtle racism, I think we need to examine the very concept of racism as a sign put under erasure (in Derrida’s sense), rather than reproduce a logic that identifies a dominant concealed truth (i.e. a covert form of racism) that is liable to deconstruction. On the whole though, probably the most intellectually stimulating article that I’ve read thus far on here.

    Derrida in Twain: Deconstructing Racism in American Literature

    The child argument is an interesting one. It’s true that Wordsworth will praise the child-like figure (I’m thinking his Lucy poems here), but only in relation to the function of the poet. In his Preface to Lyrical Ballads, he specifically maps out the poet as someone who is more sensitive to the society he lives in. The poet has the moral obligation to purify language and reconnect men to more elementary feelings, prompted by a more elementary stimulus (i.e. nature). I don’t think the valuing of a child-like poet or artist is being advocated here though. There’s also other works by Wordsworth which don’t really praise the child-like perspective. Poor Susan (the revised 1800 edition) does not particularly praise Susan, but mourns her fallen state. Other poems like Tintern Abbey rely on the poet to reconnect two versions of himself through a landscape: the earlier version of himself is presumably himself as a child and is not praised, but rather condemned because it lacks the ability to problematize and question its own existence unlike the adult narrator.

    What Does it Mean to Be a Literary Artist?

    I agree, regarding the ambiguous parts of the movie. I think I would benefit greatly from the book, because I feel that the movie left out a lot of things. The ending was rather abrupt and left me wondering whether the girl actually learned anything or not. My general impression is that she herself completed the old man’s story, yet all she presents to the old man is a bound collection of his stories rather than the additions that she has made. She also did not take the test or exam she was preparing for, even though she had been preparing for the whole movie; I’m interested in what how she would fare in light of her new experience. I’m also not sure what to make of the people on different planets (or asteroids) and whether they are meant to represent different archetypal people in the world, or different aspect of the same self; they all kind of seem derivative of one single person. Also, it doesn’t seem like the mother has learned anything by the end of the movie—she just seems really guilty about the old man.

    The Broad Spectrum of Children's Point of View in Literature: The Child That's In Us