Story of Evolution/Evolution of Stories
Bryn Mawr College
23 March, 2004

Back on the road ...

We need discovery, as Diane said above, we all feel irrepressable curiosity, and it' s probably killed a lot of people, but it's discovered fire too. On the other side of things is trust. We need trust to have something solid to place our feet on ... Elizabeth

In my house, everything had to be in its proper place, art projects were confined to specific times and locations... I had a play room... I think it's better if the world as a whole is a playroom for children (by children I think I mean every age). But again, it's not a cultural norm ... Elizabeth

I think that I have free will because I have the opportunity to choose between options, however limited they may be ... Kat

Words/Stories/Meanings: Slipperiness Good or Bad?

english gives the writer more power, but limits the ability of the conjured images to expand in the reader's mind ... Orah

While reading Culler I was absolutely thrilled of the theme: things mean what we make them to mean ... When it comes to literature, there is never a set answer. More questions arise from answers, and it fractals out like the picture of the tree we saw in class yesterday. Meaning is what we make it to be. That makes me so happy, because a person can never be wrong if they are able to defend their own meaning ... Roz

one of the things i find most frustrating about literary theory is the fact that meaning is what you make of it ... Emily

Literary theory still leaves me cold. Theory is for readers, not for writers. How many readers ever encounter the concept of theory? Are writers concerned? I question the motives of a body of scholars whose purpose seems to have been to apply an arbitrary structure to what others write—and how a reader should engage with "literature." So many of the important "structuralists" sprang forth concurrently during the sixties, which was a time of free-wheeling criticism and questioning about academia, both science and the humanities... I can't shake the feeling that theory arose as a knee-jerk reaction—a justification of sorts—from the humanities side of the house .... Ro

i think aia has hit upon such an important point that i always try to remember when confronted with anything (i.e., whether it be literary or non-literary in nature) that invites critical interpretation or analysis: the idea that "meaning" (in a definite or distinguishable form) found in stories (or anything else for that matter) is not necessarily implicit or concrete ... i think that it is important to remember as we encounter literary theory as well as other constraining(?)or systematic approaches to interpretation, that these too are simply alternative "meanings" being OFFERED and not ASSIGNED. they are there if we CHOOSE to incorporate them into our own interpretations of text ... Cham

Who Gets to Tell the Stories? Who Wants To? And Does it Matter?

Some other cases

One Crucial Issue in Pledge Case: What Does "Under God" Mean?


the prevailing stories or genre not only keeps some stories from being told out loud, so to speak, they can also shape or mis-shape people's stories about themselves as they are being made. ("...the conceptual framework in which we are brought to think about the world- exercises great power." Culler, p8, explaining Foucalt) ... the stories/memes that are immoral are those that would stop other stories from being told, or drown other stories out ... the Word is a tremendous responsibility!!! ... Becky

i went back over some of my posts from the fall and spring of last year. there was a lot of stuff out there that i kinda wish i hadn't put there. and was kinda wishing that i could take back my words, rephrase them or something. it's scary to think that these words i'm writing are being engraved ... maybe forever. i'll never be able to take them back. i feel as though i'm fitting myself, caputing, peircing myself with my very words ... the written word can live beyond the speaker and beyond the listener. that scares me ... makes me think that maybe i don't want that responsibility ... but, i do ... Orah

I was born and raised on the East Coast of Canada. There we learned how to write essays in a very linear style, just like in the State. You were to present a thesis in your paper, and throughout the next 3 - 4 paragraphs, develop your argument FOR this thesis, defending it, expanding it ... Well my senior year of high school I moved to France for a year ... In France we were taught that you shouldn't just have one thesis in your paper, and that you shouldn't be trying to defend just one point of view. They follow the dialectic form of writting ( i think thats how you say it in English..) basically: a thesis, an anti-thesis, and a synthesis, plus intro and conclusion. You try and refute what you are saying and are in a state of constant contradiction (sort of). You are taught to think in a more cyclical fashion rather than the North American linear fashion (the battle between these two forms is still wreaking havoc on me and my grades in university... grr...) ... Susan W

The French form of essay (point and counterpoint) makes me think of writing a sonnet (pick whichever style you like), which has a decided 'turn' in its argument before the end. The turn is required as part of the form. OK, there are no "sonnet police" last time I looked around the creative writing department...but still, IT DEPENDS on what you want to tell AND who are your target readers. For me, writing is about the reader ... Ro

listening to stories and sharing your own (counter-)stories are reciprocal responsibilities: by participating in one activity, you are obligated to participate in the other ... the French way of making an argument better serves the interests of listening to the stories of others and telling your own ... On the one hand, maybe it allows us to be more flexible in our thinking: through our encounters with counterpoints, we can be more open to other stories and to changing our own. Perhaps that would minimalize the feeling of being "enslaved" by our words (as Orah mentioned) in the linear consistency demanded by the American essay. On the other, it also opens the possibility of twisting the words of others in order to serve your own story, which really defeats the purpose of listening altogether ... Su-Lyn

I think that there is "a bounded infinity" of ways to tell your story, and that it is a shame that our society only values print, and "linearly-told" ones at that. I don't think that the only valid stories are those that, as Ro says, clearly and soundly develop a position. I think academia could benefit by allowing multiple ways to express stories. By limiting the validity of the methods available to tell stories, we are not letting people tell their stories ... Heather

I'm compelled by Anne's definition of literature as cataclysmic and violent, partly because my initial reaction is to disagree. But what can I use to substantiate this aversion? hmmm...If I were to argue that literature unites and expands, would I also have to admit that it displaces and that it relies on deconstruction in order to reconstruct? Is there a nondisruptive kind of literature that distills/holds meaning, or is there inherent motion in literature that necessarily results in production. If literature is always creating something new, than how can we define it? ... I guess that connects to the idea of being infinite but bounded. It also reminds me of my tendency to resist the idea that humans have skyhook capabilities and can bring something new into the world that was not previously a possibility .... Reeve

A Case in Point

I find myself quite pleasantly surprised by _Moby Dick_. I was expecting a very dense book with the antiquated word patterns and speech habits that make books half its age difficult to slog through ... I used to think that older books were automatically hard to read because the language and frame of reference had changed so, but I realized that books from as recently as the '50's and '60's just sound different, and it isn't only because of the different social context. So I decided that there was some change over time in the way people word things and string their ideas together ... I don't think it's just a good versus bad writing thing, because I've run into many clearly well written books that I just can't wrap my brain around. Does anyone know what I'm talking about ... Elizabeth

this book strikes me as intensly homoerotic ... Diane

In terms of evolution it would be interesting to think about why such behavior between men was considered part of society in the nineteenth century, whereas now we have labels: gay, homosexual, male love, etc... Ishmael and Queequeg were never read as lovers until recently. Was Melville intentionally writing about male lovers or are we, the readers of the 21st century, bringing our own meaning/reading to the text? ... Aia

With regards to the issue of happiness, Melville implies that it is the conscious part of the brain that imposes barriers to achieving this. Those who abandom their dreams end up in another "ice palace made of frozen sighs" ... In other words, the consciousness makes dreams and helps muster courage. Yet, it is the force that generates fear and all other sorts of mental weakness and thus, undermines one's vital powers. So, in the pursuit of happiness, [the] one's greatest enemy is one's self ... Daniela article on pledge of allegience