Five Literary Theories and Their Limitations

This is going to be one of my last posts on literary theory, I promise. At least for a bit. Well, maybe until I finish reading David Herman’s essay “Narrative Theory after the Second Cognitive Revolution” (fascinating stuff about the mind itself as a product, as well as a producer, of discourse). We’ll see. ButContinue reading “Five Literary Theories and Their Limitations”

Feminist Literary Criticism: The First Hundred Years

Feminist literary theory posits that gender is socially constructed rather than biologically determined. For example, why in Western cultures do we associate pink with femininity and blue with masculinity? Why do we assume that men have an instinct to protect and defend while women have instincts to nurture and “mother” children (there is no biologicalContinue reading “Feminist Literary Criticism: The First Hundred Years”

Deconstruction: A Literary Theory

Well, look, it’s Christmas Eve, and I haven’t got a lot for you today. So how about a short recap of deconstruction? Pour yourself a mug of eggnog, drop in an ounce of Maker’s Mark, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bartender recommended from yours truly (it was another life). If you like mind games (the goodContinue reading “Deconstruction: A Literary Theory”

What’s the Point of Literary Theory Anyway?

Literary theory is a trip. I just spent a year studying this for the first semester of my Accessible MFA. I watched Professor Paul Fry’s 26 introductory lectures at Yale. I created a JSTOR account (for free) so that I could read most of the assigned readings. And I bought The Norton Anthology of TheoryContinue reading “What’s the Point of Literary Theory Anyway?”

When Literary Criticism Doesn’t Work

I first read James Wood’s How Fiction Works nearly ten years ago, shortly after it was published. And it hasn’t aged well. It probably didn’t help that the first time I picked it up, I assumed it was a volume of criticism from the 1950s or 1960s Reading it this time around for my MFA has been,Continue reading “When Literary Criticism Doesn’t Work”

Ways of Reading: Part II

So I’m on Week 6 of my literary theory class, and I’ve discovered that I actually like it. Like literature itself, it’s a conversation. A dialogue. And in the best way, it’s skeptical of itself and its own conclusions. It’s curious about consciousness—where it comes from and how it creates our reading experience. And literaryContinue reading “Ways of Reading: Part II”

Ways of Reading: Part I

I started my first MFA class with a pretty clear idea of how things were going to go. Literary theory. Okay. I’d studied this during my undergrad degree. Cool. A bunch of dead white guys from Europe and North America will talk endlessly about what they think a text is, what the job of anContinue reading “Ways of Reading: Part I”

Literary Theory: The Class Everyone Loves to Hate

Different institutions give it various names. Narrative Strategies. Textual Strategies. Literary Theory. Readers and Writers. But whatever you call it, it’s usually one of the first required classes. It’s also the class I’ve heard the most MFA graduates groan about. What’s the point? I’m never going to use this stuff. So, here I am, making upContinue reading “Literary Theory: The Class Everyone Loves to Hate”

The MFA for the Chronically Ill Writer

When I enrolled for my prerequisite language courses in 2013 leading up to my M.Ed., I was headed to grad school for the sake of financial stability. I had served the immigrant and refugee communities for over 16 years as academic support staff across two campuses as well as online. And I loved it. ButContinue reading “The MFA for the Chronically Ill Writer”

Literary Journals Need a #MeToo Moment

Lately, I’ve been reading through elite literary journals, and I have to say I’m disappointed. Thanks to #MeToo, Hollywood had a reckoning, and now viewers and producers alike cringe at male characters pursuing women who have directly asked them to stop (Parks and Rec, The Office, all Star Trek before the exceptional Discovery, The Big Bang Theory, etc.).Continue reading “Literary Journals Need a #MeToo Moment”