Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Literary Inquiry (gone digital)

I gotta say, I appreciate Dr. Burton's efforts to focus us towards literary research of late. At the beginning of the class, we were focusing so much on where literacy is headed and what digital literacy meant that, to be honest, I was a little leery about the whole approach. After all, literary criticism is a huge field full of writers, professors, and critics and to ignore that when the title of the course is Writing Literary Criticism seemed incredibly bizarre to me. Yes, the topics we began with in this class have value, but it's not entirely the purpose of a course like this, is it? (No, Ms. Granger. It isn't. Why don't you step outside with me so I can hex you and hide you in a closet so as to benefit the rest of us who are enjoying class the way it is?)

Lately, I think we've been focusing more on doing research on literature in the critical age which feels a bit more comfortable to me. Anyways, I looked up the course description on BYU's site: "How to address an academic audience, support arguments, and engage effectively in critical conversations about literature." I think we're getting closer to this goal with the class focusing more in general on doing research. I know the library instruction will be largely focused on this.

I still think it is valid and beneficial to have a basic knowledge of the modes of critical interpretation that we will encounter as English majors and the kinds of discussions taking place about literature in academia that are largely grounded in the crazy abundance of theory out there right now. I have been in the English major since Fall 2009 and I just feel like I'm finding my feet in understanding the abundance of discussions that take place about a work of literature. If we ground our understanding in the context of academic conversations about literature, then perhaps we can learn to remix such an understanding in a way that writing about it online would not be too lofty and boring to read, but instead shed new light on our novels that those off a college campus are not experiencing right now.

One thing I think would be a-maz-ing to do would be to have a thorough enough understanding of all the critical conversations (from each different literary perspective) taking place about one work that you could teach them or present them (remixed like) in such a way that the average person encountering it could understand. I plan to look around for places this has been done.

In the meantime, check out this list of literary theories at wikipedia (scroll down to "Schools of Literary Theory"). I haven't even heard of some of them, but from what I know about the history of how many of them came into being and how they relate to each other, an alphabetical list just doesn't do it justice. I think a fun project would be to remix this list in a Prezi in a dynamic way that makes more sense. I might just do that (if I think it's a productive enough way to use my time).


  1. Bri, I have a remix of literary theories. :) It is actually a bit embarrassing. It was for my Engl 251 course and we presented each theory in a video. So for example, for analysis via different races, I was a black person. For formalist a guy presented the main ideas as a stiff dude. It was funny. Maybe I'll post it if I am brave enough!

  2. Oh man! Please post those Carlie! :) That's awesome!

  3. Bri, I have an idea for you that I think would be another way to show connections between the theories. It's a mind-mapping site that is designed to show ideas and how they connect to each other. It's actually pretty cool and quite useful. I don't know if it would necessarily be better or worse than prezi, just another way to do it.

  4. I really like your idea, Bri. I've been feeling a lot of the same feelings about this class that you mentioned, and I feel like your idea would definitely get me feeling more prepared to continue in the English major.

  5. Sam, I checked out mindmeister, but I was a little turned off by the fact that you could only create three maps before starting to pay. Why learn the interface if I'm not going to be able to use it in future without paying for it, ya know? So I didn't explore it much. Is that totally a lame attitude? :)