November 2010

On Lit Theory: Reading Hurts (Part Four)

Oddly enough, even with the numerous inconsistencies inherent among the many tenets of New Historicism, it remains one of the more valid methods for discovering a meaning in relation to literature. One’s concept of history does come into play here.  Some facts have been disregarded throughout the years of written history, some which most likely would open up entirely new historical interpretations. Overall, though, historicism allows for many aspects of life to enter into a reading of a text, which is more than can be stated for other schools of thought. The inclusion of a multitude of dimensions allows for New Historicism to represent one of the more sensible theories.

Amazon's Pedophile Encounter: Where's The Line?

When you're the "world's largest bookseller," everything you do becomes Big News.  This week, Amazon had a bit of a kerfluffle which they literally could not win.

In Part 1, someone noticed that Amazon was carrying a self-published ebook by a pedophile.  This wretched little screed was all about handy tips and tricks on how to be a pedophile without getting caught.  Gross, right? 

Within minutes of this discovery, half of the internet was baying for blood.  Nothing gets people going like a perceived misdoing on the part of Amazon. 

Calls for boycotts and angry letters of protest went flying like… well, like a lot of upset people had just found out that Amazon (in their view) supports pedophilia.

On Lit Theory: Reading Hurts (Part Three)

The Authorial Function, compounded with the four criteria of Saint Jerome, while grouping texts and being generally useful, limits the possibilities for an author. The notion that drives New Historicism, to some extent, is that for a time, there exists one regime that perpetuates subordination, with another following with this cycle continuing to create nothing new. The new historicists see knowledge being dictated to the masses, much as Saint Jerome does as well. Beginning with the first point of Saint Jerome, “if among several books attributed to an author one is inferior to the others, it must be withdrawn,” seems arbitrary for a number of reasons. There does not exist one ultimate critic to define inferior or acceptable for us to divide an author’s work accordingly.

Lester Bangs and the Hype

If the criticism Lester Bangs’ wrote was summed up in a few words, it would probably have to do with hype being an awful, awful thing. As it is, there’s no need for such a summation. And thankfully so, considering Jim DeRogatis, late of Chicago Sun-Times fame, worked up a biography detailing Bangs’ life called Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America’s Greatest Rock Critic. The whole thing only comes in at two hundred some odd pages, but since Bangs was a fan and champion of punk stuffs, a really long book wouldn’t seem to jive with the guy’s aesthetic.

On Lit Theory: Reading Hurts (Part Two)

The concept of history, personal or otherwise, plays a role in Reader-Response Criticism.  Fish discusses this in the context of New Historicism, but the discussion may still be applied in an understanding of Reader-Response Criticism. Fish believes that as we experience history, it becomes related to us through a language that we, as the individual, have not created ourselves. As a result of using a language that is not personalized, the meaning of our past as well as our present becomes related to use through a filter. Then with this history that has been related to us, we then see the text and interpret the text through this vale of related history.