Literary Theorists

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What, you ask, is literary theory?

Well, two weeks into my class on the subject, I can tell you: I have no idea.

As far as I can tell, a bunch of dead white males wrote a ton of essays about how some literature is awesome and some isn’t and why, and now those essays comprise a field of study. I’m reading those essays for the course I’m taking. Bound and determined to embrace and conquer this territory, I plunged into the reading armed with my wits and a pencil. I took notes, I reread passages, I sweated, I ground my teeth, I made a hundred little senseless notations, and felt as if i understood at least half of the 16-page reading, which, by the way, took me and hour and a half to read.

I went to class, feeling mostly prepared for the in-class discussion. My instructor chuckled as he informed us that the last two inscrutable readings were the easiest of the semester. Chuckled.

So far all I can figure is that a bunch of book nerds decided to waaaaay overthink and overanalyse something very simple: the enjoyment of a good book.

And they’re about to ruin reading for me.

These dudes can’t let a story be a story. Of course, this is modern theory, which means that the story is relative, the morals are relative, everything’s relative. So honestly, these fellows have to admit that while they’re spouting their opinions about why poetry is better than prose or vice versa for who-knows-what reasons, according to their worldviews, their opinions don’t matter anyway. The story doesn’t matter. They don’t matter. Nothing, according to moderns, matters.

So why did they bother?

Because, clearly, something mattered enough to them to argue for it.

Definition of “it”: pending.

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2 responses »

  1. Yeah there’s a lot of foolishness floating around when it comes to this subject. I can tell you when I took literature courses in uni I was filled with unbridled and reckless rage at all times for the same reasons!

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