Friday, May 27, 2011

Response to Legitimate Literary Criticism

I wrote the following as a response (just my thoughts typed out as I think them) to Dr. Burton's post today on Legitimate Literary Criticism and thought since it was such a long comment it deserved the attention of a blog post.
Are the conventions of an ebook the same as online writing or is it more like a go-between for the two mediums? I think our ebook feels more formal to me than most online writing and I feel almost compelled to make it longer than not. Interesting. 
Also, thank you for this post. It finally does what I feel like I've been waiting for this semester, a justification of the way this course is taught and of what we are doing (ie. "The ubiquitous, media-rich, interconnected, networked online environment is in fact our default intellectual medium, and therefore our literary criticism must be responsive to the conventions of communication developing there." and "I want my students to write "legitimate literary criticism" not according to expiring standards, but by the emerging standards that emphasize frequent, informal, formative, media-rich, interactive prose. Better a living literary criticism than a dead or dying one.")
I've been trying to explain how this class fulfills the parameters of it's original intent as prescribed by the English department and found myself at a loss, but these arguments are pretty sound. They frankly address the tensions or issues the class presents. I do wonder (like our discussion about library database interfaces) if the academic world and its literary criticism can be driven by demand though -- I suppose I'm not as convinced that for everyone in the academic world (or even most) that their "default intellectual medium" is mapped out in the online sphere. Also, is legitimacy most largely determined by audience? or is that a more modern way of thinking? It sounds like our demand/ supply thought. 
I don't mean to be contrary ... or maybe I do. These are just all the questions I'm coming up with as I read and respond to your post. 

1 comment:

  1. "Is legitimacy most largely determined by audience? or is that a more modern way of thinking?"

    That is a fascinating question. I think the answer is yes--legitimacy is determined by the audience, but I would clarify that that doesn't mean just the size of the audience. If an academic researcher spends an entire career working for an audience of just one or two people, that's still legitimate if those one or two people lead a company that depends on the research that is done.

    Authenticity totally depends on audience. But not just the audience's size.