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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Against Theory

My problem with the article Against Theory is centered around a similar issue we have discussed heavily throughout class. Should readers like myself, only take into consideration the authors intent? Or should we look behind the scenes and read between the lines to see what underlies the authors text? Personally, I find it almost ignorant and insane to think that an author intends to portray every critical method possible. Knapp and Michaels state that, “the mistake made by theorists has been to imagine a possibility or desirability of moving from one term (authorial intention) to a second (textual significance) term when actually the two terms are the same”. As I recently employed a historical analysis for my final paper, I found the cultural and social environment that surrounded the author to have a profound influence on his writing. When doing so, I found that the author was aware of the environment that surrounded him, but failed to recognize his own influence for that historical context. I just cannot seem to grasp the idea that if an author writes a piece of text to represent a specific cultural context, how one can then derive various meanings from this. I believe that authorial intent should only be relied on if and only when the author makes a clear distinction about his/her work. However, I do believe that reading between the lines is necessary in constructing a basis for ones argument. If someone chooses to read a piece of text through the lense of gender or race, then I believe it is necessary to atleast acknowledge the historical context and framework in which the author was placed. The real question then becomes what is the intent of not only the author, but of the text itself? And as a literary and cultural theorist, I find it impossible to arrive at such a conclusion.

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