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Pygmalion And Galatea,
by Jean-Leon Gerome, after 1881

Under Construction
I. Concept:
(This section contains notes taken by Kate Liu from
"New Criticism,"Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice.   Bressler, Charles E.  Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1994: 31-44.  The italicised parts are written by Kate. )
Methods previous to New Criticism:
extrinsic analysis--historical/biographical,
moral/philosophical (New Humanist),
impressionist critics, expressive school

  New Criticism  ( explanation in Chinese)

1. "the text and the text alone" approach
2. Eliot--the post does not infuse the poem with his or her personality and emotions, but uses language in such a way as to  incorporate within the poem the impersonal feelings and emotions common to all mankind.
    The poem is an impersonal formulation of common feelings and emotions
    e. g. objective correlative;

3. a poem as an autonomy--having an ontological status

4. intentional fallacy--a poem's meaning is nothing more than an expression of the private experiences or intention of its author v.s. the poet's mind as a catalyst, bringing together the experiences of the author's personality...into an external object and a new creation. ...the poem is about the experiences of the author that are similar to all of our experiences.

How about your own writing? Do you see your mind as a catalyst, bringing changes while itself unchanged? Do you believe in universality?
5. affective fallacy--confuses what a poem is with what it does
How do we understand a text? Where can we find the poem's meaning?
6. Since the poem itself is an artifact or objective entity, its meaning must reside within its own structure.
7. organic unity--the critic's job, ascertain the structure of the poem, to see how it operates to achieve its unity, and to discover how meaning evolves directly from the poem itself.
    --how meaning is achieved through the various and sometimes conflicting elements operating in the poem itself.
    **organic unity--all parts of a poem are interrelated and interconnected, with each part reflecting and helping to support the poem's central idea. ...allows for the  harmonization of conflicting ideas, feelings, and attitudes, ...

More about traditional approaches,

I. New Criticism -- Methods:

    A. From parts to an organic whole
        1. finding the tensions and conflicts, ambiguity, paradox, irony
        2. connotation and denotations
        3. poetic elements: metaphor, simile, personification, prosody,
        4. narrative elements: tone, point of view, narrative structure
    B. whole--a. What--s it about?  b. your thesis

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Some Poems on Death and Personal Identity since the Romanctic Age

II. Practice--from understanding, appreciation to analysis
    A. "A Slumber did my Spirit Seal"
        --circle contradictory, or unusual words: meanings, questions, feelings
        1. whole--What--s it about? irony of death? Acceptance of death?
        2. parts--
    B. Dickenson--J. 712; Cf. "I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Die"
        1. whole--a journey to death. What kind of journey? Endless?
        2. parts--
            Question: What are the differences between D's and W's views of death?
    C. J. 288
        1. whole--two kinds of identity. What's it like to be nobody?
        2. parts--tones?
    D. Whitman--"Song of Myself" 1
        1. whole--I and the others, past, present and future
        2. parts--contraries
    E. Keats--"Ode to a Nightingale"
        1. whole--the poet and the Nightingale as a symbol of music? Art? Nature?
        2. parts--a. Images--1) hemlock, dull opiate, Lethe,
                                        2) liquor associated with happiness, abundance,
                       b. contraries: aches--happy, sing of summer in full-throated ease
                                            poison--liquor tasting of dance and mirth
                                            fade away and forget--pains on earth
                                            thy plaintive anthem
                       c. structure 1-3 quest,
                                         4--Already with thee!
                                         6--To thy high requiem become a sod.
                                         7-8 Thou--immortal Bird, heard through generations
                                                Forlorn! Bell--wake or sleep?
    F. Keats -- "Ode on Melancholy"

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New Criticism(2): stories
on death and human relationship

III. Texts
A. "A Rose for Emily"
an elegy for an older generation
    1. tensions: contradictory attitudes: "a tradition, a duty, a care"; an eyesore
                between two generations;
                feeling sorry for her, (242); vindicated (243)--pity (upon her father--s death)--believed that she was fallen (with Baron)-- see her as a disgrace--glad that she is going to get married--surprised battle of will: between
                E and the city authorities; about the smell; between the pharmacist and E
    2. poetic elements: of antiquity: the house,
                images of death: fallen monument; the smell, her body, dust, iron-gray (245, 247)
                image of gold and silver, and rose older people--s view of time:
    3. narrative elements: point of view--a man--s, p. 240; 243 "we"; 244
    4. connotations: title

B. "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall"
    1. denotation/connotation --

"jilting" vs. Weatherall--by George to face the priest in marriage alone, Hapsy's death, John's death,  and when dying, blow out the blue light by herself.
                         -- What survives and weathers all? everlasting hatred? Or Granny's life force?
    2. Tension:
between doc Harris and GW, between GW and Cornelia (good and dutiful),
GW's character as an opinionated woman,--long-living--as a strong, hardworking woman--
--proud, strong, independent, and survived some diseases,
-- does not admit that she's sick and tired, a lot to do tomorrow, until the very end
-- hates being seen as deaf, dumb and blind, hates being whispered behind the back
--proud of the housework she's done
But in GW's mind, there are contradictions:
-- between forgetting George and being obsessed by him ("George--find him and be sure to tell him I forgot him");
-- between being satisfied with her life and being regretful (pride in her work--"hardly ever losing one"<-->"all you made melted and changed and slipped"; "something not given back"; Hapsy);
-- between wakefulness and drowsiness (not remembering what to do)
     irony: not die when she's prepared to die

    3. poetic elements:
                images: eyes like a dark curtain; images of housework 380 everything clean and folded away; 381 with sick horses, negroes and children and hardly ever losing one; fog, lighting the lamps

    4. Narrative elements: free indirect speech--free association in her mind--she does not speak out much

    5. clues to her mental state: how silly she had been once (380); it's bitter to lose things; she seemed to be talking but there was no sound (382); repetition of "float"

C. Comparison:
How do the women deal with their being "jilted"?
Emily--jilted by her father and her lover; 
GW--jilted by George, John and God 
Saved by John, marry again, bear children, 
 isolated at the end 
kill to possess 
 earn respect
learn to love, work hard, and survive 
point of view
no access to her mind 
active, thinking, blew the light herself 

  More about Granny as a subject
      in comparison with the other modern/postmodern subjects--

D. The animation "Charles and Francois"--43

    1. theme:
                How is communication possible?--swapping heads, experience the same thing, be of the same age?
                Love, death and life
                plot--a.  Differences--between two generations, stars and computer, death and life
                         b. conflicts--from sympathy to antipathy, to gradual understanding
                         c. attempts at communication--
                            1). women's role--speaking out--"When life is made new, we call it love. When love is unmade, we
                                 call it death. When death remade, we call it life."
                            2). keeping company at the park--Death--"When you are there, you are at peace." "Where you let
                                 go of your heart?"
                            3). sympathy
    2. Techniques:
                the use of paper puppets, paper cut-outs (e.g. butterfly), paper trees, paper background,
                the changing of scenes--exposed, fluid (continuous shot),
                symbols--stars, country life and city life,

Themes for reflections (I): different views of self and death

A. different treatments of death--
     Wordsworth's ("a thing with Nature"),
     Keats (artistic ecstasy as death and immortality)
     Dickenson's (conscious, quiet, non-human and endless journey toward eternity=immortality?),
     Tibetan Buddhist (a great liberation of mind/soul from the body, waiting for the next reincarnation),
     liebestod (love and death):
        Emily in "A Rose for Emily" (an attempt to possess and keep love),
        "My Last Duchess," "Porphiria's Lover"
    Granny Weatherall (something clammy and unfamiliar, death as being jilted by God)

B. different views of self
    19th century Romanticism--individualism, organicism (man close to Nature), immortality of Art
                                              e.g. Wordsworth, Whitman, Keats
            --female poets--death as a space of freedom
                                              e.g. Emily Dickenson, Christina Rossetti

"I Heard a Fly..."

1. What effect is achieved by juxtaposing the fly with "the Heaves of Storm," "the King" and making one's will?  Why does the poet associate death with a fly?
2. What can the "Windows" in the last stanza refer to?  What does "I could not see to see" mean?

"Because I Could Not..."
1. Characterize death as it appears in line 1-8.
2. How does the poet look at the living world?  (E.g. Why do the Children "strive" instead of "playing"?  Why do the Grain "Gaze"?
3. How is death experienced in the last three stanzas?  (What is the "House" in stanza 4?  And why do the Horses head toward eternity?)

    20th century Modernism--individualism (individual consciousness), fragmentation of culture and society,
                                            art against chaos or industrialization
                                              e.g. stream of consciousness technique, "A Rose for Emily" "The Jilting"
    post-modern--the self as being reproducible, fragmentary, composed of different texts (commercial, TV, computer, etc.)  e.g. the music video "The First, the Last, the Forever" and a lot of other music videos; animation "Tango" and cyborgs in sci-fi films.

New Criticism: Conclusion

A. Theoretical Limitations (cf. Handbook, Handout on Keats):
    1. success with intensive rather than extensive criticism
        **intensive criticism, with a distinct object of study
    2. preference of certain poets (e.g. T.S. Eliot, the Metaphysical Poets) and certain genres (e.g. poem, short story,
        but not diary or essay)
    3. organicism--correspond to a certain kind of American social theory, which regards society as conflict-free,
        smoothly functioning, mutually adjusting set of interrelations
    4. its belief in objective correlatives and universality--Do you agree or not?

B. What comes after New Criticism?
    1. textuality rather than text; placing the text back in its context
    2. seeing the author and reader as conditioned subject, but not godlike "creator" able to transcend their
        socio-historical conditions
    3. seeing gaps, but not totality out of the text; challenging the text

Liberal Humanism and New Criticism Re-Examined 

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