Wednesday, December 08, 2004

my 300 paper

English 300
December 7, 2004
Brian Davis

“Seeing” with different eyes
How do you recognize a poem when you see one? What is and what is not a poem? In his book Is There A Text In This Class? Stanley Fish argues: It is not that the presence of poetic qualities compels a certain kind of attention but that the paying of a certain kind of attention results in the emergence of poetic qualities. Fish’s essay “Interpreting the Variorum” (1976; rev.1980) introduces his seminal concept, “interpretive communities,” which radically revises interpretive theory by locating meaning not in the texts but in readers, not in individual response but in the protocols of communities.
“In the summer of 1971 I was teaching two courses at the State University of New York in Buffalo. At 9:30 I would meet a group of students who were interested in the relationship between linguistics and literary criticism. At 11:00 these students were replaced by another group whose concerns were exclusively literary and were in fact confined to English religious poetry of the 17th century. On the day I am thinking about, the only connection between the two classes was an assignment given to the first which was still on the blackboard at the beginning of the second. It read:



Jacobs-Rosenbaum
Levin
Thorne
Hayes
Ohman

All of the names on the list were linguist who applied the operations of transformational grammar to literary text. When the members of the second class filed in I told them that what they saw on the blackboard was a religious poem of the kind they had been studying and I asked them to interpret it.” (324-325)
How is it that they were able to do what they did? What is it that they did? The commonsense answer, to which many literary critics are committed, is that the act of recognition is triggered by the observable presence of distinguishing features. That is, you know a poem when you see one because its language displays the characteristics that you know to be proper to poems. However, Fish disagrees with this answer. “My students did not proceed from the noting of distinguishing features to the recognition that they were confronted by a poem; rather, it was the act of recognition that came first- they knew in advance that they were dealing with a poem- and the distinguishing features then followed.” (326)
Fish claims that acts of recognition, rather than being triggered by formal characteristics were his students’ source. As soon as the students were aware that it was poetry they were seeing, they began to look with poetry-seeing eyes, that is, with eyes that saw everything in relation to the properties they knew poems to possess. It was almost as if they were following a recipe- if it’s a poem do this, if it’s a poem , see it that way-and indeed definitions of poetry are recipes, for by directing readers as to what to look for in a poem, they instruct them in ways of looking that will produce what they expect to see.
This is an excellent explanation of why some people cannot recognize visual works as visual poetry or vocal noises as sound poetry. They are failing to use poetry-seeing eyes and poetry-hearing ears because they cannot see or hear words, which they know poems to possess. If they were to engage in the interpretive activity they normally use up on texts that they can identify as poems in relation to this new material, they would find that that activity of itself transformed their perception of that material and thus it would become poetry in their eyes.
“Interpretive Communities are made up of those who share interpretive strategies not for reading but for writing texts, for constituting their properties and assigning their intentions.” (2086) In other words, these strategies exist prior to the act of reading and therefore determine the shape of what is read rather than, as is usually assumed, the other way around. Those of us who are in the interpretive community which can see visual poetry and hear sound poetry will not convince those who are not in our interpretive community, because their interpretive strategies for poetry cannot recognize the material, cannot recognize found material as poetry at all. The same reader will perform differently when reading two “different” texts; and different readers will perform similarly when reading the “same” text. In Fish’s essay Interpreting the Variorum he says “The only “proof” of membership is fellowship, the nod of recognition from someone in the same community, someone who says to you what neither of us could ever prove to a third party: “we know” I say it to you now, knowing full well that you will agree with me (that is, understand) only if you already agree with me (2089). If you are in “his” interpretive community you will agree. If you are not, you won’t agree and you won’t even understand.
To the question posed by the title of his book (Is There a Text in This Class?), the author has provided the answer. There isn’t a text in this or any other class if one means by text what others mean by it, ‘an entity which always remains the same from one moment to the next’; but there is a text in this and every class if one means by text the structure of meanings that is obvious and inescapable from the perspective of whatever interpretive assumptions happen to be in force. A meaningful text, in short, is the creation of a reader, or, more precisely in Fish’s terms, a community of readers. When we begin to see with poetry-seeing eyes we begin to “see” from a whole different perspective.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

day 1 of group presentations.

today was the first day of group presentations. i felt all were informative and entertaining. we saw everything from a criticism version of a famous saturday night live skit to critics visiting a writer to help him write a criticism piece on one of sexsons essays. i thought they were all great and so congratulations to all the groups. job well done.

test 2

so i thought the test was slightly easier than the first but i did slightly worst than the first one. go figure. hope every one did well and are now preparing for those dreaded group presentations.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

test notes

Foucault- post structuralist history is discourse. power

De Mar deconstructionalist language is rhetorical interpretation

Wimsatt formalist two falacies of reading 1. intentional - cant look to author for meaning. 2. cant look to reader

poe- classicist one single effect, short

fish - reader response poetry seeing eyes.

mary- 1st femenist educate women like men.

jung - depth psychologist archetypes

peacock - romantic satirist critic of poetry - shelly

emerson - transcendentalist inspired poet

tompkins femenist personal

vico- "original" ages- Gods, Heroes, "men", and chaos

Victor- "berry picker" teach. didactic

Bha Bha- post colonialist binary have and have nots

nietzsche- existentialist exsistence is more important than essence. "God id dead" "truth is a mobile army of metaphors."

Bahktin - structuralist monologic dialogic

Barthes - french structuralist "language speaks not the author"

De Beavuior - femenist 2nd sex

Kristeva - femenist merge discipliner intertexuality ( pg. 2165) semanalysis- linguistics dissolve the sign.

Mulvey - femenist ( pg. 2179) cinema- freud "gaze" male

gates - deconstructionist race-text

Gilbert and Gubar femenist (pg. 2026) male experience anxiety influence female in authorship.

Jodorov - structuralist simple clauses from plot

Schleiermacher romantic ( pg. 610) hermeneutics circle

Schiller - romantic "error only is there truth" - freedom

Eagleton - marxist ( pg. 2240) social political sphere

Greenblatt - new historicist history is a collection of rhetorical figures.

Woodsworth romantic poetry is a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.

Jamin - social historian ( pg. 1167) "aura"

Butler - femenist and queer theorist ( pg. 2485) gender is a construct


Frye will be on test.



hope this helps out and best of luck on Tuesday. ( we will be having a study session in the sub at 7:00 on sunday for anyone wanting to come)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Presentation - Stanley Fish

In the summer of 1971 I was teaching 2 courses at the State University of New York in Buffalo. I taught these courses in the morning and in the same classroom. At 9:30 I would meet a group of students who were interested in the relationship between linguistics and literary criticism. At 11:00 these students were replaced by another group whose concerns were exclusively literary and were in fact confined toEnglish religious poetry of the 17th century. On the day that I am thinking about, the only connection between the two classes was an assignment given to the first which was still on the blackboardat the beginning of the second. It read:

Jacobs-Rosenbaum
Levin
Thorne
Ohman (?)

(All of these are linguist who helped apply the operations of transformational grammar to literary text.)

When the members of my second class files in I told them that what they saw on the blackboard was a religious poem of the kind they had been studying and I asked them to interpret it. The firat line of the poem recieved the most attention: Jacobs was explicated as a reference to Jacob's ladder, traditionally allegorized as a figure for the Christian ascent to heaven. In this poem, however, or so my students told me, the means od ascent is not a ladder but a tree, a rose tree or rosenbaum. This was seen to be an obvious reference to the Virgin Mary who was often characterized as a rose without thorns. The word "thorne" could only be an allusion to the crown of thorns, a symbol of the trial suffered by Jesus and of the price he paid to save us all. It was only a short step from this insight to the recognition of Levin as a double reference, first to the tribe of Levi, of whose priestly functionChristwas the fulfillment, and second to the unleavened bread carried by the children of israel on their exodus from Egypt. The final word of the poem was given at least three complementary readings: it could be "omen" especially since so much of the poem is concerned with foreshadowing and prophecy; it could be Oh Man, since it is man's story as it intersects with the divine plan that is the poem's subject;and it could , of course, be simply"amen", the proper conclusion to a poem celebrating the love and mercy shown by a God who gave his only Begotten son so that we may live.

How is that my students were able to do what they did? What is it that they did? Or, How do you recognize a poem when you seeone? The commonsense answer, is that the act of recognition is triggered by the observable presence of distinguished features. That is, you know a poem when you see one because of its languagedisplays the characteristics that you know to be proper to poems. My students did not proceed from the noting of distinguished features to the recognition that they were confronted by a poem;rather, it was the act of recognition that came first- they knew in advance that they were dealing with a poem-and the distinguishing features then followed.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Poetry

How do you recognize a poem when you see one? Common sense would say that you know a poem when you see one because its language displays the characteristics that you know to be proper with poems. However in "Is There a Text in This Class?" a book by Stanley Fish he says that the act of recognition should come first , then the distinguishing features should follow. As soon as one is aware that it is poetry that they are seeing, they began to look with poetry-seeing eyes, that is, with eyes that see everything in relation to the properties they knew poems to possess. How do you define poetry?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

one test down, two to go

I was just wondering what everyone thought of the test. I thought it was pretty hard. Having had Dr. Sexson before I knew the structure of the test and thought i knew how to prepare myself but i guess i was wrong. I felt it was much harder than any of the other test ive had from him. hope everyone survived and that you are looking foward to exam number 2.

Charlotte vs. Haroun

I just finished reading Tristans journal as he wants to replace Charlottes Web with Haroun and the Sea of Stories. However, I think that you need a actual reason for replacing Charlotte other than the fact you didnt like the book and that you like Haroun... better. I personally have read them both and think they are both great pieces of childrens literature. Is it possible to have them both on the MSU booklist? Just because you dont like a book filled with talking barnyard animals is no reason to try and remove it from the list.

Does the work make you a better person?

I'm not sure that the work makes you a better person. I think its up to the reader or the viewer what one gets out of the work. Certainly the author didnt write a book and plan on every person that reads it getting the same message out of the text. I think it is highly possible that if you let it, the work will change you in some way , shape, or form. For instance, the person that killed John Lennon had a copy of J.D. Salingers "Catcher in the Rye" with him at the time of the murder. Does this mean that everyone that reads this novel will have the sudden desire to go kill someone. I should hope not. Books, like life, are what you make of them. You can try and interpret the author as in depth as you would like and hopefully through knowledge the text will change you in some way.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Journal # 08 Stanley Fish

Who is Stanley Fish? Well, according to Dr. Sexson, I am Stanley Fish. So I thought I would do some research and find out who Stanley was and what he was all about and this is some of the things I found.

Stanley Fish is one of the best known contemporary literary theorists on the American scene. The leading critic of John Milton of his generation, the self proclaimed inventor of reader response theory, a pioneer of critical legal studies, and through the 1990's a spirited defender of the humanities amid public attacks over political correctness. Fish was born in Providence, Rhode Island. The first in his family to go to college, he attended the University of Pennsylvania, recieving his B.A. in 1959. He went on to do graduate work at Yale University, then the bastion of the American New Critics, quickly completing an M.A. and Ph.D., in 1960 and 1962. He tought at the university of California at Berkley from 1962-1974 and published two books before he turned thirty, most notably a touchstone of Milton criticism, "Surprised by Sin: The reader in "Paradise Lost". While at Berkely he also wrote "Self Consuming Artifacts: The Experience of Seventeenth Century Literature, which was nominated for a National Book Award. Concerned with interpretation and its consequences, at John Hopkins he also began to teach in the law school, pursuing an interest in legal theory that became more central to his work through the next two decades. In 1985 Fish moved to Duke University as Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of English and Law and as chair of the English department. As chair, he was instrumental in building the most famous- if sometimes controversial -department of its time.

Journal # 07 Sublime ( not the band)

I feel this song has reached a certain level of sublimity.The lyrics have always meant a great deal to me and motivated me in many ways but even more so after the events that occured in New York City on September 11th, 2001. The song is called "Walk On" and its by U2.

And Love
Is not the easy thing
The only baggage
That you can bring
Not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring
Is allthat you left behind

And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, Be strong

Walk on

What you got, they can't steal it
No they can't even feel it

Walk on
Stay safe tonight

You're packing a suitcase for a place
None of us have been
A place that has to be believed
To be seen

You could have flown away
A singing bird
In an open cage
Who will only fly
Only fly for freedom

Walk on

What you got
You can't deny it
Can't sell it or buy it

Walk on
You stay safe tonight

And I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
You can only take so much

Walk on

Home
Hard to know what it is
If you never had one

Home
I can't say where it is
But I know I'm going

Home That's where the hurt is

And i know it aches
And your heart breaks
You can only take so much
Walk on

Leave it behind
You've got to leave it behind

All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break

All that you measure
All that you feel
All this you can leave behind

All that you reason
All that you care

It's only time
And I'll never fill up all my mind

All that you sense
All that you sceme
All you dress up
All that you see

All you create
All that you wreck
All that you hate

You've got to leave it behind
And Walk on

I think we have all had obstacles in our lives in one way or another and for me this song gives me the motivation to keep on truckin and roll with the punches.


Journal # 06 Viewed as gruesome but made a positive impression.

When the question, What have you seen that was gruesom but has made a positive impression? came up the first thing that came to mind was Mel Gibsons film " The Passion of the Christ". I put off watching this film for quite sometime. I had heard various things about it from both religious and non religious friends/family members. Coming from a Christian background I was well aware of the story of the passion , but seeing images of film portraying the events that took place was something entirely different. I finally broke down and rented it a few weekends ago and after watching it was very impressed. I felt it stuck to the story fairly well and some of the images in the film were gruesome to say the least. I think its highly unlikely to tell a story such as this without "gruesome" scenes in it. The one that stuck out the most was when they were beating Jesus with the cat od nine tales and at one point it stuck in his rib cage only to be jerked out with blood and various other bodily fluids flying out. I think the scene was very moving but I dont think its fair to say that it had a positive impression. I can speak only for myself when I say it had a positive impression on me and gave me a better understanding for the story, but different people have different views and opinions but from now on when the word gruesome comes up I will definitely think of this movie scene.

Journal # 05 Touchstone

I did alot of thinking about this topic. Taking into consideration that to me touchstone is the way we judge our own lives or more so the way we wished to be remembered. I came up with a quote by Joseph Campbell from " The Power of Myth". It reads, " If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are- if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time." This quote can take on multiple meanings, but for me it simply means follow your heart and dreams and do what makes you happy, not what others think you should do. That can be a tough lesson for some of us cause we all have others in our lives that have their own dreams for us but that doesnt mean that their dreams and our dreams are always the same. Do what makes you happy and follow your own bliss and you cant go wrong.

Journal # 04 Missed Class

So I missed class today because i had tickets to see Dave Matthews Band in Salt Lake City , Utah. I trust that class went well and that my presence wasnt missed too much. And in case you are wondering , the concert was awesome. It was my third time seeing dave and his live shows seem to get better every year.

Journal # 03 A literary work that has changed my life.

When asked the question of what literary work has changed my life , two different books come to mind. First, is "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger. This was the first real literary piece I ever read and I was fascinated by it. I could identify with the character and saw many similarities between what I had already been through and what he was currently going through. After reading this book I quickly developed a appreciation for great books and it played a significant role in why I am a english major today. The second book that comes to mind is "The Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell. This book was a required text for my English 309- Mythologies class last spring and I never opened the cover or so much picked it up until the end of semester when I needed to use it for my final paper. I simply couldnt put the book down. It blew my mind away and inspired me to say t he least. I think both of these text have changed my life in a very profound way.

Journal # 02 A text that I go to for solace.

I dont really have a particular text that I go to for solace. I do however have a habit of listening to certain music, looking at old pictures, or perhaps reading old letters or cards that were sent to me. My favorite song to go to would have to be #34 by Dave Matthews Band. This song has no lyrics and I think thats what I like about it the most. You can make up your own lyrics to it or your own meaning. It's just a very relaxing tune to listen to and for me it helps me put things in perspective.

Introduction

My name is Brian Davis and I am a junior majoring in English Literature. I'm not exactly thrilled about taking English 300 to be completely honest. But it is required for a degree and I figure if anyone can make it interesting at 8:00 in the morning its our very own Michael Sexson.