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”

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?”

To the Guy in My MFA Class* Who Believes Art “Has Nothing to Do with Race”

Since the 1930s Formalism has positioned literary art as independent of author, era, and even possibly meaning. It promises that if readers would just focus on structure, symbols, and tensions within the text itself, all will be clear. Although this approach still holds sway in literature and creative writing classes, Critical Race Theory has challengedContinue reading “To the Guy in My MFA Class* Who Believes Art “Has Nothing to Do with Race””

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”