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Showing posts with the label postmodernism

What is Comparative Literature?

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From English to comparative literature Equipped with a collection of degrees in English language and literature, for two decades, I taught, researched and published in a field called "comparative literature."  As near as I can judge, the discipline got its English name in the early 20th century from a faulty translation of the French expression " littérature comparée ."  The literature which comparativists study isn't comparative in any meaningful sense.   It would make some sense to call the subject "compared literatures" (a literal translation of " littératures comparées ") or, even more obviously and aptly, "comparative studies of literature." However, we specialists learned to succumb and accept the terminology that got us tenure without a whimper until some first-year undergraduate asked us "what exactly does 'comparative literature' mean?" Then we mumbled and grumbled about students who hadn't done enough

What Is "Romantic Irony"?

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Schlegel coined the term These days, the concept of "romantic irony" is particularly difficult to grasp for a number of reasons.  In the first place, the phrase was coined by Friedrich Schlegel, the German romanticist, who was vague and aphoristic in defining the concept. The Meaning of "romantic" Additionally, what Schlegel meant by "romantic" is a subject of debate.  According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy : What Schlegel meant by the term “romantic” and its apparent cognate "Roman" (usually translated as “novel,” but having among the Romantics a much wider sense) has long been disputed. [ . . .], Schlegel saw the historical origins of “the romantic” in the wide mixture of forms and genres that characterized medieval literature and took it as the point of departure for a genre-transcending notion that allows even Shakespeare's plays or Dante's Commedia to be Romane . Romantic Irony From a present-day perspective, "

Deconstruction and “Ways of Talking”

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Derrida denied deconstruction was of any importance As I’ve mentioned previously, the last time I saw Jacques Derrida, who is credited with coining the term “deconstruction,” being i nterviewed he was quite adamant that “deconstruction” was not a concept of any importance, not even a theory, not even a word that he used anymore. ( See "Critical Thinking Skills" and "Family V alues" )   Nonetheless, the word has taken on a life of its own and, while it may have gone out of fashion, it is still with us and showing no signs of disappearing from the language .  (See footnotes.) Postmodernist deconstructionist smuggery If you have ever tried to confront a postmodernist deconstructionist by pointing out that his work was contradictory, illogical, duplicitous, nonsensical and hypocritical, you would likely find him responding with glee, “Exactly!”—as if he were personally responsible for your recent intellectual epiphany.  Given the deconstructionist stance that l

The Sour Glossary

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actually  (adverb) as an actual or existing fact; really. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary) [False cognate warning : Francophones will sometimes mistakenly use “actually” (or actual)  when they mean currently,  presently, at the moment and up to date.] allegory  [. . .]  symbolic fictional narrative that conveys a second meaning (or meanings) beyond the explicit,  literal  details  of the story (my definition, adapted from Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature). A simple allegory would be  something like a story about Mary Whiteteeth and Johnny Toothbrush and their enemy named Sugar. The story, in this case,  is not about these three characters but about the importance of brushing your teeth. "[. . .] the term allegory can refer to specific method of reading a text." allusion  (noun) IIn literature, an implied or indirect reference to a person, event, thing or a part of another text. [. . . ] Allusions to biblica