Textual Analysis and Textual Theory
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Textual Analysis and Textual TheorySession One
Sren Hattesen BalleEnglishDepartment of Culture and IdentityAgendaIntroduction: the course, the website, the summary assignmentIntroduction: todays sessionPresentation: text, context, theoryClass room discussion: William Carlos Williams, This Is Just to Say as literary text, as literary theory, and in contextIntroduction: the course, the website, the summary assignmenthttp://soerenballe.wordpress.com/Forms of work, evaluation, and examPreparation, attendance, assignments, written sit-down examStudy guidelinesTalking and writing about Text: WHY?
Study guidelinesDuration of course: one semester (9 sessions)Credits: 5 ETCSEvaluation: 5-hour written exam at the university and with the participation of an external examiner (2 grades: one for content and one for written proficiency) Exam date: week 22 or 23See also: http://magenta.ruc.dk/upload/application/pdf/eb84bd20/Study%20Guidelines%20october%202009.pdf (especially pp. 11-12) Study guidelinesCourse content and aims: Introduction to the reading and understanding of British, American and Postcolonial literary and non-literary texts in a historical and theoretical perspectiveIntroduction to relevant literary terms, concepts and methodsIntroduction to relevant literary theoretical and methodological approachesCompetence in the analysis and contextualizing of literary and non-literary texts (close reading, textual genre, cultural period, authors universe, etc.)Competence in written proficiency TextHuman beings are literary animals:Narrative, metaphor: we make sense by telling stories and using analogiesAnything produced by a human being in any medium can be read as a (literary) text:Writing, speech, music, image, video, sculpture, installationEveryday objects: clothes, holidays, gestures, etc.
TextHow to distinguish between texts in the broad the sense of term and literary texts in the restricted sense of the term:What is literature?What is literariness?The lability of literature as a category vs. the stability of literariness as a functionWhat determines that a text is read as a literary text:The literary as a distinctive feature about certain textsLiterature as an institutionLiterature as anti-institutional the paradox of literatureTextHow to make sense of (literary) texts:What determines the meaning of a (literary) text?The author, the text, the code, the context, the reader?The limits of interpretation: e.g. the intentional fallacy and the affective fallacy (W. Wimsatt & M. Beardsley)ContextWhy is context important for the production of meaning in (literary) texts?To read and interpret (literary) texts is somehow to put them in a contextTo make sense of a (literary) text is to naturalize or familiarize itCf. J. Cullers definition of the literary text: The fictionality of literature separates language from other contexts in which it might be used and leaves the works relation to the world open to interpretation (32)
ContextIs there more than one context?How do we decide which context is the correct one? How do we decide the relevance of context? Cf. J. Culler: ..if we say that meaning is context-bound, then we must add that context is boundless: there is no determining in advance what might count as relevant, what enlarging of context might be able to shift what we regard as the meaning of a text. Meaning is context-bound, but context is boundless (67)Is the text its own context? (Cf. New Criticism and Culler, p. 24)ContextWhich contexts (of interpretation) are there:Cf. G. Genettes typology of transtexts:Mirror textuality: segment(s) within text = model of the whole textIntertextuality: a relation of co-presence between two or more texts [..] the literal presence of one text within another, e.g., quotation, allusion, plagiarism, etc.Paratextuality: the threshold of the text, the framing elements inside and outside the text: The peritext: title, forewords, dedications, epigraphs, prefaces, notes, epilogues; the epitext: public and private announcements by author and publisher, correspondences, diaries, confidences, interviews.Metatextuality: the transtextual relationship between commentary and the text that is commented upon. Literary criticism, reviews.Hypertextuality: a later text is superimposed upon an earlier one (imitation, pastiche, parody, emulation, simulation, etc.)Architextuality: the relationship of inclusion which links the text to, for instance, the genre it represents.Context
ContextThe circumstances surrounding the production of a text are important for our understanding of that text.A text informs us of the circumstances surrounding its production.
TheoryTheory is not always literary theoryCf. J. Culler: since the 1960s theory has become associated with the import of theoretical writings from fields of study outside literary studiesWhat is theory: theory is the questioning of taken-for-granted or common-sense assumptions about texts, reading, representation, the author, meaning, etc.Cf. Derridas questioning of writing as supplement and the relations between presence and absence in representationTheory is speculative and complexWhat is the relationship between text and theory?W.C. Williams, This Is Just to SayI have eatenthe plumsthat were inthe icebox
and which you were probably saving for breakfast
Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so coldThis Is Just to SayList reasons why you consider This Is Just to Say to be literature. Conversely, can you think of any reasons why This Is Just to Say should not be regarded as literature?Is This Is Just to Say poetry?Can you think of a relevant context in which to place Williamss poem? Your choice of context may be literary, historical, cultural, social, political, or other. Justify your choice of context.Is Williamss poem itself a theory of poetry?