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”

The Western Literary Canon, or the Curious Case of the Male Ego

Over the last two years, I’ve read Beowulf, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, More’s Utopia, Aristotle’s Poetics, and sections from The Epic of Gilgamesh. I’ve made a project of the canon because, at 33, I felt that if I want to be the kind of writer I aspire to be, I need to know what I’m workingContinue reading “The Western Literary Canon, or the Curious Case of the Male Ego”

Take a Moment to Reflect, Macbeth

We all get ahead of ourselves sometimes. And Macbeth most of all, the renowned literary critic Harold Bloom argues in his essay on Shakespeare’s play. It’s his imagination that’s at fault, Bloom writes, turning him into “an overanxious actor always missing his cues.” As soon as he imagines something, he’s already there–unable to exist inContinue reading “Take a Moment to Reflect, Macbeth”