We’re picking up the pace this next week as we turn from reader-response to a discussion of Modernity and Postmodernism, as well as interpretive lenses known as “Deconstruction,” and “Post-Structuralism.” Your reading for the weekend includes a story by Edgar Allan, “The Spectacles” (which can be found on the course readings page), and the next section in Charles Bressler’s Literary Criticism (“Modernity/Postmodernism, Structuralism/Poststructuralism: Deconstruction” –pages indicated on syllabus). “The Spectacles” is the last short story we’ll read before turning to Heart of Darkness for the next four weeks; please be sure that you have purchased the specific edition of that book listed on the syllabus.
Our main bloggers for this week are Luis Hernandez and Marissa Gonta. Their task, to be completed and posted by Monday at midnight, is as follows:
Using the reader-oriented model of criticism we tested out in class on Thursday, apply that method to Richard Wright’s “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” in order to arrive at an analysis–of 500-550 words–of the story. Your analysis should describe several horizons of expectations and show how they change the text from beginning to end. Consider, as you do this, the qualities of the narratee (as we did on Tuesday with “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”). Based on certain gaps in information or narration, or what types of explanations are provided, describe the narratee and how that narratee is being led to respond to the story (or, to use Rosenbatt’s word, to “transact” with it). Finally, as we did last class, explain the overall meaning you come to as a result of this reader-oriented approach, particularly how that meaning is supported by or in conversation with the story’s title.
Commentators on this post, who should respond by Wednesday at midnight with comments of 150-200 words, should consider to what extent they are convinced by the type of analysis a reader-oriented approach to Wright’s story yields. Especially considering Wright’s use of dialect and the central “paradox” this story reveals, would it be useful to bring a New Critical approach to it? Why or why not? Are there still other things you think you should consider when analyzing Wright’s story that neither New Criticism (Formalism) nor reader-oriented criticism seem to be focused on?
If you have empty spaces on your reader-response handout from this week, please ask me about any terminology that needs clarification at the start of class on Tuesday. We will also begin next class by finally getting to the question about your process of arriving at an interpretation within your small groups (on the back of the handout); after lingering with the reader-oriented critics for fifteen minutes or so, we’ll turn to the concepts of modernity and postmodernism during the second half of Tuesday’s class. Again, please make sure you’ve read Bressler’s chapter and Poe’s story beforehand!
Have a wonderful weekend!