Ashley’s Blog Post #4

“The image of literature to be found in ordinary culture is tyrannically centered on the author, his person, his life, his tastes, his passions, while criticism still consists for the most part in saying that Baudelaire’s work is the failure of Baudelaire the man, van Gogh’s his madness, Tchaikovsky’s his vice. The explanation of a work is always sought in the man or woman who produced it”( Bathes 1322).

            It seems that Barthes clearly thought that literary criticism was hierarchical. And, it may still be this way. Yesterday we discussed the tendency to equate authors with “Gods”, and how this tendency still permeates some scholarly criticism. Authors have been given power over the text–which suggests some unattainable privilege over the English language. And, I confess that I have–for quite some time–been accustomed to filtering texts through “fixed meanings”(this tendency has been jolted ever since I entered the MA program–with the “big dogs”). Dismissing the authorial presence has jolted several learned methods that I have, in the past, applied to works of literature. I have been taught “fixed meanings” in the past. And, today, will unconsciously profess a particular “fixed meaning” (Perhaps this is why it is not advised to research SparkNotes–nothing but “fixed meanings” lol ).

            Contrarily, I believe that contextualizing any text is useful. Like previously discussed, time and space does determine how we perceive texts, and any prior knowledge may or may not influence our own critique. It is liberating to be able to critique a text based on our own experiences of culture within time and space. Partakers of the field now have the opportunity to assign multiple meanings –which inherently diversifies the text. The reader can now be confident that he or she also has ownership of the English language.

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