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Christina Harview's picture

Week Five Summary

Here are the notes from this week: I have separated them by date. I hope that this helps.

19th – NOTES “Those of you who have done the summaries so far have done a great job.” -Anne Dalke

Harvard voted to publish all works for free on-line. Think about the connection to our previous discussions about posting online. Intellectual property should be available to all because some people cannot afford to buy all of the journals that some people are publishing in. Can ideas be copyrighted? J.K. Rowling does not own the Harry Potter books because she sold the rights to Penguin books. She no longer has control over it because it no longer belongs to her.

What form does Melville, Ismael, Ahab use in the writing of Moby Dick? Is it an anti-story, emerging story, non-narrative foundational story, or a narrative foundational story? The plot is a more organized part where Ishmael is talking to himself would be experimental chapters that each has their own little goal. They may also be exploratory in themselves. The exploration is a journey for Melville as much as it is for Ishmael.

Ahab seems to want there to be a narrative-foundational story behind it all. He wants there to be a meaning built upon past occurrences in which time is relevant. He wants to reach something that is foundational; he wants an explanation for what has occurred with Moby dick that is not random or by chance, but that has meaning behind it.

Jessie said that humor makes it possible to make several statements at once. Satire may be a way to mask something deeper. What is it that Melville is masking?

The book called Anatomy of Criticism written in 1957, the author describes the four types of writing: romantic (narrative foundational), memetic (emerging), ironic (anti-stories), and mythic (non-narrative foundational). It is interesting how these categories parallel Grobstein’s categorizations of writing.

Anthology: We discussed the evolution of American Literature anthologies over time. Five anthologies, published in 1956, 1874, 1979, 1989, and 1990 reveal an interesting view of how people saw American literature in each time period.

What is the story that is being told in the Introduction to Modern Genre Theory? What did you learn from the reading? The term ‘genre’ is much debated. The different schools of thought he referenced were interesting. The author muddles up the timeline of genre theory because it is not chronological. Previously, it was difficult to understand how to think about genre, but he defined it very well. We did not start the class with this so that we could learn to develop the context by ourselves. We naturally want the narrative-foundational story, but by leaving this out until now, Dalke has denied us that and hopefully opened our eyes to the peculiarities of the non-narrative foundational story.

Duff talks about the Germans as the source, but they got their ideas from the Plato/Aristotle bunch. Hegel said that any statement is a thesis and generates an antithesis. You put the thesis and the antithesis together to create a synthesis which forms dialectic. That synthesis is then a new thesis from which a new antithesis can be derived and thus another synthesis (and so on). A Darwinian sense of genre theory posits that genre is not static in time, but that it changes constantly.

Duff says that it doesn’t matter what Melville intended, what matter is how his writing is received by readers.


21st – NOTES We will all read essay number four (Bakhtin) and one of the other three essays of your choice. I will read the other Bakhtin along with Ellen. Marina will read the one about literary fact, Ingred will read the one about fairy tales.

Maybe all of those anthologies are narrative foundational stories. In this course, we are trying to have more of an emerging story, just like Duff is trying to do in Modern Genre Theory.

The picture on the cover of each anthology may help to reveal the contents of the stories itself. Herman Melville is found in all of the anthologies. Moby Dick’s chapter 54 is found in two of them, but all of the others leave out Moby Dick altogether.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin chapter 7 is included in two of them. Nine chapters are included in another book. Stowe is ignored in anthologies before the 1974 anthology.

What is a classic? Do we gauge it based on:

  • Its affect on society?
  • How easy it is to interpret?
  • Its meaning/ substance?
  • How it challenges literary conventions?
  • How unique it is?
  • How people react to it?

      Anatomy of Criticism “The ethical purpose of a liberal education is to liberate” the then goes on to say that they work to see society as free, classless, and urbane etc. No society like this actually exists so we need works of imagination that allow us to imagine what such a society may be like. Therein lies our liberation.

      What genre is Moby Dick? Is this a useful question to ask?


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