Category Archives: discussion

The modern author?

Hey people,

I stumbled across an interesting little article today while searching around the web for Barthes and figured, in the spirit of collaboration and a personal love for media articles, to share it with you all. It’s titled “Blogs and the Crisis of Authorship” and examines, surprisingly enough, the concept of the author within the new media genre of blogs.

I realize that this article will most likely have little to no impact the paper of anyone writing about Barthes, but I thought it was interesting to see the literary concepts we have been studying examined within the field of a recently developed form of media.

For whoever is interested, here’s the link:

The Rise of English

As you’ll have noticed, I forgot when I was talking about tomorrow’s class that I’d made the (very, very wise) decision at the beginning of the semester to cut the Lukacs essay from the syllabus. So it’s just Eagleton.

This, however, constitutes the opening of your on-blog discussion of Eagleton. What’s unexpected in the essay? What catches your attention? What gets under your skin?

The Death of the Author

Barthes and Foucault debunk the notions that “the author” is a single point of origin for any text, and that (conversely) the identity of a writer can be deduced from or directly connected to the text the writer produces.

First, where does this leave our thinking about literary situations in which authorial identity is typically considered to have significant value in relation to the text–autobiography, for example, or plagiarism? In a post-authorial world, are these designations still relevant?

Second, how does the presence of multiple authors (or rather, since arguably no authors are “present,” per se, the attribution of a work to more than one named author) affect our understanding of a text? For example, our main text for this class is written by both Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle–to whom do we attribute a specific part of the text at any given point in our reading?

The Politics of Post-structuralism

First off, let me apologize for the lateness of this post. I hope this didn’t screw with anyone’s schedule or cause any general sense of unease.

Both essays by Eagleton and Said seem to suggest a material quality of a text, questioning the binary relation of speech to writing. According to Eagleton, the text has been treated as the shadow of the spoken word since Plato, considered in Western thought as a tool to approximate the presence of experience. In response to the structuralists who had constructed scientific methods of interpretation based on a model of representation,  E and S attempt to unground the referents that stand before them (e.g. God or Truth), claiming that a fiction’s will can be felt directly in the creation of its own contexts. To these authors, there is something deeply political at work in a writing. With this in mind, how do E and S constitute meaning as a system of power relations?

Lévi-Strauss and Lakoff/Johnson

Both articles discuss the notion of the fundamental unit of language. Lévi-Strauss’ article argues that myths should not be analyzed as a series of sentences with a definite chronological order; the important part of a myth lies in its story, not its syntax. So long as the story is not lost, myths can be told in all kinds of different ways. To Lakoff and Johnson, the fundamental units of literature (or at least of metaphors) are words and sentences. They argue that words and sentences have meaning independent of their context or speaker(s) and believe that different people having different interpretations of a word/sentence does not  present a tremendous problem.


The Lakoff/Johnson piece was more interesting to me because it gave so many specific examples of metaphors and tried to interpret the logic behind them (i.e. physical space). What I wonder is how Cleanth Brooks’ article (“Metaphor, Paradox, and Stereotype”) ties into Lakoff and Johnson’s ideas. Brooks talked about how metaphors can become outdated and therefore no longer useful. We all understand the metaphors in Lakoff and Johnson’s article; we use those expressions routinely in everyday life. However, if our human thought processes are indeed “largely metaphorical” as Lakoff and Johnson argue, what will happen to our thought processes or the literature that gets created if the metaphors we take for granted in everyday life become outdated?

In the Cage

We’re going to be spending tomorrow’s class with Henry James’s “In the Cage.”  What I’d like to ask you to consider here is the extent to which this narrative serves as an allegory of reading.  Which of the essays we’ve read to this point in the semester does “In the Cage” intersect with?  How does the novella represent the act of reading?

literary history

I was just wondering if anyone understood what Jauss is trying to say in his sixth thesis. I can’t figure it out…

Fish and Jauss

Time for a little compare/contrast: what objections do Fish and Jauss raise against the formalist/new critical approach to literary analysis? How do they similarly and differently attempt to account for the reader in their view of criticism?

Open Thread

Hi, all. Assuming you’ve read your email lately, you can probably imagine that it was a bad day in Crookshank. I want to throw open the discussion here, to let you respond in any way you like, including thinking about the role of the author as redefined by the new critics. I’ll look forward to talking with you all Monday.


Hi, all. Most of you have sent me your usernames, and your accounts should be up and functioning. Do make sure that you test them by logging in with the information emailed to you by the system. (If you’re not logged in, you should see a link to do so at bottom right; if you are logged in, there’ll be a link that reads “site admin.”)

Once you’re logged in, come back to this post and leave a comment. I’ll pose a question to get us started, but you should feel free to raise questions of your own.

My question(s): What surprised you, if anything, in the essays by Fruit and Lockwood? What caught your attention? What seems notable in the picture those essays create of the state of literary criticism in the early twentieth century?