Category Archives: discussion


An open thread on Arcadia.   What do you make of its representations of the relationships between writers and literary critics?   Of its representations of reading?   What else interests you here?

Literature vs. film

I was just thinking about our class discussion today and one big question popped into my mind. We discussed some of the differences between reading a book and viewing a film (perception of reality vs. creation of a new world, the way in which facts and details are hidden or revealed throughout the course of a book/film, etc.). But in addition to all of those, how do you guys feel the two genres differ in terms of the amount of crap (for lack of a better word) that exists in each. For every excellent, artistically created, thoughtful film that gets created (and distributed to the masses, also, now that we’re in the age of mechanical reproduction), many crappy, Hollywood-ified, brainless movies also get made. I think literature is different – although that certainly depends on one’s definition of literature, what qualifies and what doesn’t qualify. It seems like there’s an audience of people who are interested in spending two hours viewing a mindless movie that won’t make you think about anything important — people probably see it as a relief, a break from the constant need to think and find significance in every day life. But (it seems to me) that there would be less of an audience for that kind of book. Maybe it’s because watching a movie requires much less work and time than reading a book. Maybe mindless books wouldn’t get published. But I also think that some books that deserve to be read get turned into movies that do not merit watching, so barring the theory that it’s impossible to accurately turn a book into a film, maybe there is some intrinsic difference between the two genres. I can’t really put a finger on exactly why this difference exists, nor can I aptly describe the way it plays out, but it seemed significant to me. Any thoughts?

Radway and Romance

I don’t know if there’s a post we’re supposed to be responding to, but I figured I’d start things off with some Radway. This article was probably one of my favorites in this class. I think that because Radway focused so closely on one aspect of literature she was able to come up with some an amazing analysis of the genre of romance literature. I’m not sure if I agree with everything she says, but it all made me think. Some of the stuff on rape completely changed the way I’d view such moments in romance lit. That’s all I’ve really got, but if someone else wants to chime in, feel free.

White Noise

There’s no official poster for White Noise, so I thought I’d simply open the floor for discussion.   The novel’s very conscious (not to mention critical) of many of the movements in literary theory we’ve studied this semester, and I’m curious what kinds of interesting connections you’re finding as you read…

The Laugh of Medusa

First off I would like to apologize because I was unable to get the link to Infection in the Sentence to work, so I was only able to read The Laugh of Medusa. So if anyone was able to make the link for Infection in the Sentence work please post about it.

That being said, The Laugh of Medusa brought up a few issues for me. It starts off by claiming thatg women have been driven out of writing. This led me to the question: how are women driven out of writing? If women are absent from writing, then is every representation of women in writing an inaccurate masculine portrayal?

The author also claims that there is no typical woman, so as a result they have “inexhaustible” imaginations. This made me wonder if there is a typical man? Is there a typical woman in writing?

She goes on to say that “woman must write woman. And man, man.” This is similar to a previous question that I posed, but is this statement true? Can men only accurately portray men in writing? Are women only capable of portraying women?

A prevelant theme of this essay is that through writing, women can become actualized as individuals. The author claims that women must write in order to reclaim power that has been denied from them. She goes as far as to say that women don’t own their body if they do not write without censorship. What do you make of this? Can writing help one understand themselves? Does writing give someone conrol over their identity?

Finally, I found it a bit odd the way that the author compared writing to sexuality. I was wondering what you all thought about that.

The Presidential Election and Literary Interpretation (unofficial post)

Our readings for Monday’s class and again for class tomorrow have focused largely on race, the way we conceptualize groups, and understand literature and, ultimately, humanity. In light of the historic presidential election results announced earlier tonight and our readings and discussions, what role do you think race, or, more accurately, our conceptualization of race, played in the election? I heard one of the reporters commenting that voters had acted as though they were “colorblind.” Is this accurate or even possible given the ways our brains organize? What further connections, if any, can you draw between the readings for Wednesday and ethnic identity in this election in particular and America in general?

Personally, I thought Gilroy’s early concepts of an ever-blending black culture and identity were relevant to the way Americans understood Barack Obama. Early in his campaign, members of the media and opponents sought to narrowly classify him as African or American or African-American; white, black or biracial; Muslim or Christian; a capitalist or a socialist; etc. While some of these claims aren’t grounded in fact, at least in terms of ethnicity and origin, Obama seems to be “both inside and outside the West” (972) as a result of his diverse background. For me, that very synthesis of cultural perspectives is at least some part of his appeal. (Of course, many of Gilroy’s other conclusions are based upon African-Americans reacting against the expectations of slavery (eg, focusing on creativity rather than labor), which one may argue don’t apply to Obama as he was not descended from slaves.)

What do you guys think about the perspectives of race we have read in relation to what we’ve witnessed in the past, what this election might imply, and where we hope to go in American racial/ethnic understanding?

Time to Comment?

Just thought I’d start off the conversation about when to comment on the red notebook. How does 7-8 tomorrow sound to people?

death enhancing life

It looks like that there was no official post on the reading so I thought, at the early hour, that I would offer up something I found that seems to relate to the essay we read. For my Advanced Editing class, I was supposed to find a scene from a Hollywood film in order to analyze and later re-edit. I chose a scene from the movie No Country For Old Men (which I highly recommend) where a man’s fate  unknowingly  rests on a coin toss.

As I was re-watching it, I realized that the entire conversation and its climax are intimately tied up in what Brooks talks about in his paper. Death, and the chance of death, gives life and everything in it meaning. If you haven’t seen the film, you should. It’s quite good. If you’re interested in the scene alone, here’s a link to it on youtube (watch the movie too):

How do y’all feel about the online format of the Golden Notebook?

So, I’ve read most of the first two sections of the Golden Notebook, and am now going back and trying to comment intelligently. Usually I’m the type to jot down whatever I think as I go, but the idea that my comments would not be kept “confidential” exactly, really weirded me out and made me hesitant to comment at all. I feel like in this format my thoughts have to be much more “polished” and insightful, since they’re not just for me. Honestly, I don’t like that at all. I’m trying to ignore my inhibitions and comment more naturally, but it’s difficult. Is anyone else reacting to this new style of reading similarly? Or does anyone like it a lot more? I guess I’m just the type who likes to mark up an actual book without worrying about what I’m thinking, just jotting it down… Are you guys able to tap into that more easily than I am in this new online format??


Hey all, I meant to write this a few days ago and it must have slipped my mind. On Monday we talked about ideologies and threw out a number of theories and definitions for “ideology.” One that was brought up said that ideology is what causes humans to tell stories that give rational explanations to things (the stories themselves, however, aren’t as important as the desire to create these rational explanations). About a month ago, we briefly discussed the motivation to write versus the motivation to publish a text and make it public, especially in light of the theory that published texts no longer belong to the author. Does this definition of ideology help explain the desire to publish at all? What about fictional texts, which in some sense are less about “rationally explaining” certain elements of life and are more about the story itself?