criticism gone awry
amergin at uclink4.berkeley.edu
Mon Aug 16 18:42:41 EDT 1999
At 02:21 pm 8/16/1999, Melissa Proffitt hammered into the ethereal keyboard:
>Only the most rigid of instructors is going to fail a student who comes up
>with a theme
>that they haven't discussed in class, if the student can back it up with
That's what I have... An entire department of professors that seem to
require that all students walk the line between what we discussed in class
and not repeating it to a plagaristic point. There's also a strange line
for breaking that rule: if you do it poorly, you're docked for a bad
paper. If one writes the paper "too well" (as I do), the professor starts
making accusations of plagarism. I've had it happen four times in two
>But the real point of traditional literary criticism (by which I mean not
>just the examination of theme, but of character and plot and rhetoric) is to
>get people thinking about books as a way to convey meaning that is not
>limited to the surface detail of the story.
I wish someone would tell my professors that. The "new trend" this past
year at my campus has been analysis of all literature based purely on the
surface details. Mentioning ANY non-literary concepts in papers seemed to
be taboo last year... Including psych, sociology, history--how one is to
interpret Gulliver's Travels without mentioning history is something I
never figured out, but we were supposed to do it...
>I never did finish Faerie Queene either. Someday I will have to make a list
>of all the books I was supposed to read that I didn't enjoy. I think there
>may be some common factor that would give me more insight into what I like
>in a book. My college degree may be a tribute to the amount of BSing you
>can do and still graduate.
I know that my college degree--which I will hopefully get next Spring--is
going to be a massive tribute to BS... I write too many papers on books I
have barely even opened other than to take quotes from for it to be
otherwise. As far as books I haven't liked for class, that's generally
because either it's too much work in too short a time period (anything in
long poetic form or convoluted) or the story itself puts me to sleep. The
stories in the Faerie Queene--ie what went on--were interesting, but
dealing with it in the poetic form dragged things out so much that I got
bored and quit.
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