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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Against Theory"...Really?

Seriously? I almost have to believe this article was the result of a bet gone wrong: "$20 says you can't write an article that opposes all theory" "You're on." It's not that the arguments here are illogical--in fact they make perfect sense. It's just that they are totally irrelevant. I'll use their authorial intention argument as just one example. No one, in my experience anyway, has ever argued that a piece of literature has no authorial intention. Of course it has authorial intention. The real question is what is that intention? How does that intention (or meaning, for I agree the two are the same thing) interact with our culture today? When we looked at The Tempest, for example, there was never a question about whether or not Shakespeare intended for his play to have meaning. Our discussion was whether or not his intention/meaning has the same significance today as it had 400 years ago. Shakespeare intended his play to have a meaning for his audience; now, 400 years later, how do we respond to that intention/meaning? Those are the important issues, and none of them are addressed by this article. As complex as it was, and as difficult as it was to read, I was really hoping I'd come away from it with more on my mind than "so what?"

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