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Author Topic: Against Interpretation  (Read 11960 times)
alpha_bet
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« on: April 12, 2012, 3:11:08 PM »

Susan Sontag's now decades-old essay still inspires me every time I pick it up again. So this time, I decided to actually go through and read the list of essays and books that Sontag lists as good examples of literary critics' attempts to describe literary form without "interpreting" literary works (Randall Jarrell's essay on Whitman, Barthes's Sur Racine, Francastel's work on the destruction of a plastic space, etc.).
It made for a fun holiday week of reading. 
But now I want more.
Can anyone think of more critics since Sontag's call that have taken it up, to analyze literary form without "interpreting it?"
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voracious_vivacious
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2012, 11:45:02 AM »

Not exactly the same thing, but you might look at Eve Sedgwick on "reparative reading" versus "paranoid reading." And, more recently Stephen Best and Sharon Marcus on "surface reading," Michael Warner on "uncritical reading."
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alpha_bet
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2012, 5:19:56 PM »

Thanks.
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flotsam
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2012, 7:30:14 PM »

Fredric Jameson's 1972 essay "Meta-Commentary" takes up just this question, and the argument is expanded in his 1981 book The Political Unconscious, particularly the long, first chapter, "On Interpretation." (Although, I think, the chapters on genre criticism and on Conrad actually illustrate the theory better.)
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marigolds
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2012, 9:27:18 PM »

Fredric Jameson's 1972 essay "Meta-Commentary" takes up just this question, and the argument is expanded in his 1981 book The Political Unconscious, particularly the long, first chapter, "On Interpretation." (Although, I think, the chapters on genre criticism and on Conrad actually illustrate the theory better.)

Huh. I've never read this one, but Jameson is one of the ones thqt Marcus and Best hold up as an example of symptomatic reading, if I'm recalling correctly. Interesting--I'll have to follow that up!
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They are our servants.  They are like dogs.  Sometimes, they think they remember being wolves, but they are only dreaming.
alpha_bet
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« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2012, 6:55:58 PM »

Curiously, The Political Unconscious was the book I just took up after posting this... and I marked the first section as something to throw at students if I ever get around to teaching a course on "not interpreting"... but I'll look for the 1972 essay, too. Thanks!
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