Principles of Literary Criticism
Principles of Literary Criticism E 341
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This 15 page Class Notes was uploaded by Rebekah Heller on Tuesday September 22, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to E 341 at Colorado State University taught by Aparna Gollapudi in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 99 views. For similar materials see Principles of Literary Criticism in Foreign Language at Colorado State University.
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Take Away Concepts Poststructuralism and Postmodernism Poststructu ralism Deconstruction Other ways in which Poststructuralist ideas can be used for analyzing texts Poststructuralist insights into the nature of reality knowledge and subject can be employed to approach specific aspects of a text For eg If all knowledge is a result of differance then what we think we know objectively is only 39 39 quot This has 39 I quot 39 for how 39 39 39g 39 f 39 factuality is treated in literary works In M Butterfly for instance Gallimard is used to deal with quotfactsquot whether as an accountant or as the Vice Consul when he has to write a report about how the Chinese and Vietnamese will respond to Western actions A report generally purports to be an objective form ofI 39 39 39 g concrete 39 But as we learn the project of creating a objective quotabsolutequot knowledge can be elusive What are the other ways in which the movie reveals objective and quotabsolutequot knowledge as impossible also interrogate your own knowledge about what happens in the movie Can we interrogate the quotfactsquot that we gather from the opera version How reliable is what we think we know about the characters and cultures in the opera To what extent are the given facts ngapanese traditional culture vs American modern not facts but mere difference If quotAll reality is textualquot as Derrida says caught up in an endless referential chain of differance then this gives us a way of approaching characters who seem deluded trapped in fantasy or even insane The concepts of normalcy or lobjective reality imply transcendental signifieds that as per postsu quot are 39 I quot 39 Also post quot disrupts the very notion of the rational subject thinking of the subject as a dissolved or lconstructed subject a product of social or linguistic forces not an essence at all merely a tissue of textualities So characters like Rene Gallimard or even Puccini s Butterfly who seem inexplicably irrational can be seen as examples of this notion of the poststructuralist subject inhabiting a reality of differance Consider the characters of the movie andor the opera as textualized subjects of poststructuralism that is as subjects whose reality is always referential never absolute Postmodernism Barry notes that one of the main things Postmodernist readers do is quotdiscover postmodernist themes tendencies and attitudes in literary works of the 20quoth century and forms in different works Cronenberg sM Butterfly is most amenable to this kind of analysis Lyotard calls the Postmodern condition as an quotincredulity towards metanarratives Certainly in the world the movie creates only lmininarratives which are quotprovisional contingent temporary and relative seem tenable M Butterfly certainly is skeptical of all kinds of metanarratives from political metanarratives such as Imperialism and Communism both of which are shown as obviously inadequate to the multiplicity of the human condition to cultural metanarratives such as the cult of the patriarchal family which automatically posits progeny and heterosexual union as an absolute good It is the power of this latter metanarrative that Song uses to manipulate Gallimard whose subscription to it leads to his final downfall What other metanarratives do you see in the movie and opera What role do they play Postmodernist ideas about quotloss of the realquot especially as articulated by Baudrillard who demonstrates the power of quotimagesquot over quotlifequot pervade the movie Baudrillard s quotthird order of simulation in which the simulacrum hides the absence of reality Song s quotButterflyquot can be considered as an example of Baudrillardian simulacrum Song creates a realm of Hyperreality for Gallimard whereby reality is produced according to a model and is thus morerealthanreal Gallimard s encounters with any other order of quotthe Iquot rea the naked body of the German woman or Song simply falls short This Hyperreal depends on quotthe precession of the simulacra where modelimage precedes reality and shapes it Gallimard s quotreallifequot experience seeks to recreate a preceding model the interactions found in Puccini s opera If we think of Madame Butterfly as a second order simulation which misrepresents or distorts reality behind it then Gallimard s life is shaped by that preceding simulacrum Simulation threatens the difference between quottruequot and quotfalsequot between quotreal and imaginaryquot relevant not only to Gallimard s plight but also the movieviewer s 27 November Postcolonial Theory What does Post Colonial mean AniaLoomba s essay indicates the problems of defining it indicating instead the range of its meanings Let s begin by defining Colonialism Conventional literal definition of Colonization a body of people from one geographical area creating a settlement or colony in a new locality but maintaining connections with parent state and remaining politically subject to it Parent state Metropole occupied land Colony Relationship MetropoleColony CenterMargin But what about the population already occupying the llnew locality What happens to their communities languages culture Colonization lllocked the original inhabitants and the newcomers into the most complex and traumatic relationships in human historyquot Colonization devalued a nation s past culture history progress in favor of a preference for Eurocentric norms customs language culture Forming a new community meant unforming or reforming the existing communities and practices The colonialist while committing these atrocities against the natives and territories of the colonies convinces himself that he stands on high moral grounds Some of the justifications for colonization The colonized are savages in need of education and rehabilitation their culture is backward and it is the moral duty of colonizers to do something about it the political situation of the colonized nation is poor and needs the colonizer s wisdom to improve it the religion of the colonized nation is incongruent and incompatible with those of the colonizer and consequently it is the Godgiven duty of the colonizer to bring them to the right path the colonized people pose a threat to themselves and to the civilized world and needs to be controlled Thus the white Europeans who colonized socalled underdeveloped countries in Africa and Asia created discourses that justified colonial ventures 9 Octo be r Psychoanalyzing characters is most common Can also psychoanalyze author reader Psychoanalytic Criticism of Uses insights ofr 39 g and I r 39 to interpretliterature Psychology or psychoanalysis need a quotmindquot which psyche or mind is available in literary study Mental processes of literary characters though a frequent objection to this is that characters are textual not real and as such have no existence beyond words on page and thus no mind to analyze Literary work as a mental production of the author s mind and so a reflection of hisher psyche though the objection to this might be that it requires making unconfirmable assumptions about author s mental state Literature impacts psyche and mind of reader so could examine psychological effect of the literary work on the readers Psychoanalysis what it is and why we need it Humans are the only animal born so completely helpless and that remain comparatively helpless and dependent for such a long period early in life The process of growing up socialization requires the most extensive suppression of certain behaviors and physical instincts toilet training aggressioncontrol rules of civilization etc Humans are required to adhere to the most elaborate complex rules of civil society For instance despite the unusually long interaction with parents as compared to other animals the most fundamental and geographically pervasive form of the incest taboo is that between parentchild The incest taboo is aimed at controlling human sexuality but other forms of control and repression abound Thus even if you are very hungry and are in a grocery store without security cameras or anyone watching you will restrain from taking food because of moral taboo against quotstealingquot Our early dependence leads to fears and anxieties the consistent need to adhere to behavioral rules leads to suppression of instincts and desires Fivii7atinn is 39 of desires and fears So fundamentally llRepression is essential to civilizationquot The consistent repressions that are part of our emergence as normal wellsocialized adults and these could vary in type and intensity depending upon specific situations are a part of our self that go underground in a sense but never really go away This leads to concept of each individual having a llstranger withinquot Freud late 19 h century Austria theories shaped by his time and prejudices so a lot of his ideas have been rejected but some fundamental processes remain in classic psychoanalytic practice His most wellknown idea the nowdiscredited Oedipus complex Discovers infantile pregenital sexuality Male infant conceives the desire to eliminate father and become the sexual partner of the mother In more generalized terms can be seen as male child s realization of competition for mother s attention desire for permanent possession Threat of the father fear of castration leads him to relinquish desire and identify with father instead In broader terms Father s injunction lNO becomes sublimated into conscience and taboo In case of female infant theorizes lpenis envy desire to possess father is the desire to possess penis His most influential and long lasting contribution to the ways of thinking about the human psyche was the theory that much of our quotselfquot is invisible locked away as it were but always attempting to escape the importance he attributes to the unconscious in our daily life His tripartite model of the mind d instinctual drives Superego conscience social rules Ego conscious mind that relates to others functionally and allows for satisfaction or expression of repressed drives in socially accepted ways This model has been modified and challenged especially by the quotego psychologists or the quotobjectrelations psychology school But even if one suspects this neat tripartite division of the mind his insights are significant in the sense that they indicate the danger of the stranger within who seeks to escape Always return of the repressed the point is is it going to be in socially acceptable forms or in anti social or abnormal forms Freud The Uncanny 1919 Starting point Ernst Jentsch s 1906 study of the uncanny quotOn the Psychology of the Uncanny which concludes uncanny fear of the unfamiliar uncanny based on intellectual uncertainty Freud sets out to disprove both points He starts with the roots of the German words heimlich familiar at home intimate personal and unheimlich unfamiliar hidden strange mysterious and the point at which the two meet uncanny Freud s definition the uncanny as a category of frightening things that leads us back to what is known and familiar quotThis class of frightening things would then constitute the uncanny and it must be a matter of indifference whether what is uncanny was itself originally frightening or whether it carried some other affectfor this uncanny is in reality nothing new or alien but something that is familiar and old fashioned in the mind and which has become alienated from it through process of repressionquot Freud attributes the feeling of uncanniness to repressed infantile complexes that have been revived by some impression or some event What s outside is actually inside if something outside is seen as uncanny or oddly frighteningdisturbinguneasy that is because it is the sudden and unexpected revelation of what is concealed or repressed within This often violent fear or rejection or phobia resulting not from alien or unknown but recognizable within could define individuals as well as cultures Freud s general thesis The uncanny is anything we experience in adulthood that reminds us of earlier psychic stages of aspects of our unconscious life or of the primitive experience of the human species One example he gives of earlier psychic stages in the story llThe Sandman castration anxiety typical of Freud s gendered world But also another more interesting aspect doubling The double doppelganger its source is the primary narcissism of the child its selflove The drive to survival even when one self seems fragile or under threat results in creation of psychic doubles the religiousspiritual division of BodySoul can be seen as one version of this doubling to assure immortality But Freud also relates the double to the formation of the superego The superego projects all the things it represses onto this primitive image of the double Hence the double in later life is experienced as something uncanny because it calls forth all this repressed content Alternative meanings for this form of the double It represents everything that is unacceptable to the ego all its negative traits that have been suppressed Or t embodies all those utopian dreams wishes hopes that are suppressed by the reality principle by the encounter with society In this essay Freud analyzes how particular characters in specific stories experience the uncanny but also he is like a literary critic explaining the effect of a certain kind of literature he is considering reader or viewer reception Beyond the Pleasure Principle Defer greater pleasure later for lesser pleasure now Id a the pleasure principle immediate fulfillment of all desire without caring for reality Ego a reality principle awareness of external conditions such as others needs and the realization that deferment of pleasure might bring more pleasure on the long run So the Ego tries to keep Superego as well as d satisfied while getting the most pleasure Negotiates between reality principle and pleasure principle Puzzle certain repetitive behaviors that seem to bring only unpleasure An instinct for quotcompulsion to repeat One possible solution to this puzzle suggested by child s game The game of fortda if pleasure principle is the thing that drives everything then why do we repetitively relive experiences that sadden us or frighten us nightmares destructive behaviors or even enjoyment in watching tragedies or horror movies Freud s theory competing with the pleasure principle is the instinct for mastery The game Great cultural 39 39 voluntary39 Staging disappearance and return the pleasure of the return But repeated part of only throwing away game Mastery From passivity to activity abused turn abusers we return to unpleasurable experience to finally do something to have control over the circumstances PTSD puppet dolls Relevance to art artistic play artistic imitation of tragic actions Painful experiences can be enjoyable in art The initial drama of separating from mother of repressing id to reality principle quotLoss of love and failure leave behind them a permanent injury to selfregard in the form of a narcissistic scara sense of inferiority Neurotic patients recreate those situations of loss jealousy failure in therapy that they are unable to deal with in real life Even quotnormalquot people too who sometimes seem to be quotpossessedquot by some daemonic or malignant power might be actually influenced by infantile processes quotCharacter trait quotfatequot etc can be considered manifestations of this reliving and recreation of infantile cycles This quotcompulsion to repeat thus remains partly a mysterious force later also theorized as the death drive but the fortda game suggest one reason why there are these behavioral patterns Another symptom of return of the repressed dreams and dreamwork The repressed material needs to be disguised in order to surface even in dreams Certain strategies and devices that the unconscious uses to facilitate resurfacing of repressed material Sublimation Refinement and elevation of repressed desires into socially accepted civilized arenas sex into religious feeling or fearvulnerabilityaggression into building unnecessarily high skyscrapers Displacement Symbolic substitution substituting a persona desirea fear that you cannot acknowledge with another In The Sandman for eg fear of castration is displaced on to fear of eyes being gouged out Fixation remains fixated on early childhood sexuality or development Oral obsessions maternal fears and phobias Splitting good motherbad mother ntrojection internalization of aspects of others creating an ideal of that person within onself Projection aspects of ourselves desires and antagonisms disowned Doubling a fragile or weak self that is under stress accompanied by a strong or immortal double a double that is the embodiment of all that is unacceptable to the ego all its negative traits that have been suppressed a double that embodies all those utopian dreams wishes hopes that are suppressed by the reality principle by the encounter with society Literary works can be seen as ldream work produced by the artist s imagination that is fueled by the unconscious So you might see characters and plot patterns that show the strategies above 29 November Social and Cultural Impact of Colonization The erosion of the colonized culture and language Even where local culture managed to survive colonization spread a fundamental sense of alienation and unease in the native population On the one hand colonizer s contempt for colonized language and culture is obvious on the other access to socioeconomic power required embracing the colonizer s behavior and language becoming quotacceptablequot Often just pure survival required this switch This shaped the subjectivity of the colonized Colonization is a traumatic experience that erodes the individual s identity and restructures in complex fractured ways The legacy of colonization is a fundamental hybridity in consciousness and sense of self Resistance to colonizer often took the form of orthodox adherence to original culture and religion These contradictions led to societies with a lot of contradictions splits loyalties linguistic stratification Why was European colonization more devastating than earlier colonial conquests Loomba s definition lColonialism can be defined as the conquest and control of other people s land and goods But as she notes colonization in this way is a constant feature of history from nca Empire Roman Empire and Ottoman Empire What was it about post1600 colonization by European nations that made their colonial endeavors especially disruptive and powerful Loomba suggests that while earlier colonization was preCapitalist modern Colonialism was established alongside of Capitalist economies in Europe This meant that Colonizers not only extracted tribute or wielded political control but restructured the economies of the conquered peoples They established a flow of goods and people from the parent state to the colonies Colony Raw materials 9 metropole manufactured into consumer goods in factories 9 sold back into captive markets of colonies Same with labor ndentured laborers slaves domestic servants Result Crippling economic imbalances that linger to the present day Capitalist Colonialism the kind of political domination in which finance capitalism infiltration of markets establishment of economic relations of dependency and control is a key factor is often termed Imperialism Though as Loomba says lmperial has a history that predates modern capitalism but imperialism as a mode of control that has a specific economic nuance is a common usage It is in this sense that colonization as a historical phenomenon meaning political conquest and occupation can be differentiated from imperialism as a global system of economic and cultural control The notion of neocolonialism or neoimperialism can thus be seen in spatial rather than temporal terms as the llPhenomenon that originates in the metropolis the process which leads to domination and control ts result or what happens in the colonies as a consequence of imperial domination is colonialism or neocolonialism Thus the imperial country is the metropole from which power flows and the colony or neocolony is the place which it penetrates and controls Imperialism can function without formal coloniesbut colonialism cannotquot So what is PostColonialism Formal political independence from colonial masters Aftermath of colonial domination the cultural intellectual linguistic social and political burdens challenges hopes and ambitions of a nation once colonized Post as meaning an ideological transformation now the colonial era is over and the new ideologies of nation cultural value heritage etc are postcolonial Colonized peoples finding a voice and identity reclaiming their past Problem of terminology If the inequities caused by Colonialism are not yet over and the world must be divided to first and third world then is it right to speak of the demise of colonialism implied in term lpost colonialism Neocolonial forces continue economic and cultural dependence and control so what is post about colonialism