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LCT - Making Meaning

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Nadine Muller

on 13 October 2016

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Transcript of LCT - Making Meaning

Making Meaning
Wimsatt & Beardsley, "The Intentional Fallacy"
"Judging a poem is like judging a pudding or a machine. One demands that it work."
Barthes, ‘The Death of the Author’ (1977)
Stanley, ‘Introduction’,
The Auto/Biographical I

Wimsatt & Beardsley, ‘The Intentional Fallacy’ (1946)
Wimsatt & Beardsley, ‘The Affective Fallacy’ (1949)
Fish, ‘Interpretive Communities’ (1982)
Making Meaning: The Old-Fashioned Way
Author assigns meaning
Author vs. Reader
The Death of the Author
Reader Response
"A poem is what it does."
The Affective Fallacy
The Politics of Murder
“The design or intention of the author is neither available nor desirable as a standard for judging the success of a work of literary art”
“The poem is not the critic’s own and not the author’s (it is detached from the author at birth and goes about the world beyond his power to intend about it or control it). The poem belongs to the public.”
“We know that a text is not a line of words releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning (the ‘message’ of the Author-God) but a multi-dimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash.”
Barthes, “The Death of the Author”
“The Author, when believed in, is always conceived of as the past of his own book: book and author stand automatically on a single line divided into a before and an after. The Author is thought to nourish the book, which is to say that he exists before it, thinks, suffers, lives for it, is in the same relation of antecedence to his work as a father to his child.”
Barthes, “The Death of the Author”
“Once the Author is removed, the claim to decipher a text becomes quite futile. To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified to close the writing. Such a conception suits criticism very well, the latter then allotting itself the important task of discovering the Author [...] beneath the work. [...] Hence there is no surprise in the fact that historically, the reign of the Author has also been that of the Critic.”

“[W]e know that to give writing its future, it is necessary to overthrow the myth: the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.”
Barthes, “The Death of the Author”
The Birth of the Reader
The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost; a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination. Yet this destination cannot any longer be a person: the reader is without history, biography, psychology; he is simply that someone who holds together in a single field all the traces by which the written text is constituted.
“[W]hatever they [critics] do, it will only be interpretation in another guise because, like it or not, interpretation is the only game in town.”
“First of all, what I am not doing is 'simply reading,' an activity in which I do not believe because it implies the possibility of pure (that is, disinterested) perception.”
“Consider what the denial of authorship actually does. It removes from existence as worth commenting upon, indeed as something which it is authorised to comment upon, the fact that this argument is actually articulated by a few white middle-class male first-world elite self-styled ‘intellectuals’. A very convenient death - for them.”
Stanley, “The Auto/biographical I”
“At the very point when - due to the activities of anti-colonialism, the black movement, the women’s movement, the gay movement - ‘the author’ [...] is named and has an accusatory finger pointed at him - the author at this very point conveniently dies. This is a suicide that is no suicide at all. This ‘suicide’ is alive and well and still calling the theoretical shots.”
Stanley, “The Auto/biographical I”
Meaning located in text
Readers and critics
Author, Reader, Text, & World
decipher meaning
Wimsatt and Beardsley, “The Intentional Fallacy”
Wimsatt and Beardsley, “The Intentional Fallacy”
Barthes, “The Death of the Author”
“The Death of the Author”
Wimsatt and Beardsley, “The Affective Fallacy”
“Emotion is no concern of criticism, no part of criteria.”
Wimsatt and Beardsley, “The Affective Fallacy”
“The poem itself, as an object of specifically critical judgment, tends to disappear."
Is There a Text in This Class?
Is There a Text in This Class?
What is the relationship between authors, readers, texts, and their worlds?

Who creates and owns a text and its meaning?

Do texts have more than one meaning?

What is the purpose of the literary critic?
Is There a Text in This Class?
“We ought to impute the thoughts and attitudes of the poem immediately to the dramatic speaker.”
Wimsatt and Beardsley, “The Intentional Fallacy”
“To refuse to fix meaning is, in the end, to refuse God.”
Barthes, “The Death of the Author”
Good luck!
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