Sunday, December 2, 2007

Final Thoughts

Hello again. I just wanted to take the time to say thank you for reading my blog this semester. It was a great challenge to come up with material every week but I think we did a pretty good job.

My final post will be my exam essay. I figured I would post it because it mirrors my thoughts on theory and is a good wrap up. Enjoy kids! Thanks for a great class!!!

Grad Student Deconstructs Take-Out Menu is a remarkably satirical piece of work that pokes fun at critical theory in a way that supports in infamous death of theory after 9/11. The article is an incessant deconstruction of theory and its multifaceted layers.

The article begins by poking fun at the arbitrary nature of language by placing everything in ‘quotes.’ This references structuralism and the work so Saussure and Claude Levi-Strauss. By placing words it quotes, Rosenblatt points out the absurd or ‘absurd’ nature of bricolage and Saussurian concepts of signification and binary opposition; what does absurd even really mean?

Then Rosenblatt teases apart the every present battle of power and authorship. Does the reader have power or does the author have power? One will never really ‘know.’ This argument brings into play Foucault’s Death of the Author. Concepts like authorship/readership and power are one of the key elements of theory that turn people off from critical theory. The post theory mindset actually believes some of these theorists think too much.

The mere fact that Rosenblatt is deconstructing a menu points out the universality of critical theory and its applicability outside that pearlescent ivory tower. This article portrays the belief that in order to understand theory, one much apply it outside of the classroom. Anything can be deconstructed or critically analyzed; however, what merits a good analysis is up for debate.

The infamous academy and cannon of literature believe that only ‘great’ literature is capable of such intellectual pursuits. However, this cannon is the power structure that excluded women and homosexual writers for years. Does this not discredit the power of the illusive literary authorities? I believe it does. Deconstructing a take-out menu is the candle-snuffing attempt of contemporary theorists like Rosenblatt.

Rosenblatt concluded the article with another recurring theme in critical theory, the search of the real. What is real anyway? Who exactly is to decide what real is? This article points out that there are many ‘realities’ in this world. “What is a take-out menu not, anyway? Everything, of course. What is a take-out menu? Nothing, of course.” I believe this parallels so many arguments about theory. What is theory not, anyway? Everything, of course. What is theory? Nothing, of course. Theory is an. uphill battle to understand complexity after complexity where nothing is everything and reality and ‘the real’ are just varying degrees of interpretation.

Although this article satirizes elements of critical theory, it validates many aspects of critical theory and deconstruction. The article points out the maddening nature of deconstruction and its plaguing open-endedness. However, deconstructing things like a take-out menu really expose institutionalized notions of power and race that many of us mindlessly ignore. Therefore, theory is valuable. However, theory is dead...

Throw Ur V's Up!

Hey yall, Check out this EC blogger. She has a flair for feminism!

Violent Femmmmmmmmmmmes

Hmmm…… Feminism…I know I am a woman. I know I should say I am a feminist. However, the F word scares me a weeeeee bit. It is such a shame that there is such a negative connotation associated with the term feminism. I mean, I must say that a few years ago I though a feminist was a man hating, granola crunching, I Birkenstocks wearing, hairy lesbian. I know it’s horrible, no need to tell me. However, spent a lot of time realizing that feminism wasn’t so bad.

I truly believe that there are many degrees of feminism. I began exploring feminism when I started speaking out against pornography like Dworkin and MacKinnon. I know some believe it is just harmless representation and a good laugh. Personally, I think it activates things like sexual aggression, rape, and discrimination, but that’s just me…. Some women I know don’t happen to think so.

It seams as though women of my generation have slipped into this postmodern blend of feminism where they believe that we really have the power to dress like complete sluts on Halloween. Isn’t that what men really want? Is dressing up on “whore-o-ween” really liberating because we choose to do so? Do we really choose to do so? I think my “slutterfly” costume last year is a prime example.

However, feminism has turned into this “Sex and the City” type thing. If a woman thinks reading Cosmo liberates her from sexism and hegemony well, she is lying to herself. A magazine should not tell me how to “please my man” or dress for my flat ass.

I must say that my definition of feminism has changed a lot growing up with three sisters, exposing myself to feminist texts, and learning about feminist criticism. I think women still need to fight for sexual liberation and freedom from this postmodern wave of feminism.

ps. Tonya thank you very much for your post this week! I really enjoyed reading it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Although I am still working through Mantissa, I must say that I find it very confusing, entertaining, and fruit salad of critical theory. I mean maybe I am just stupid, but when people mention theories from months ago, I am lost and am not sure I could even define Liberal Humanism without referencing notes or having to reread a chapter or two of Barry. My brain is complete mush by now; I have blinders on and the only thing I see is my senior seminar paper staring me in the face; well, I see the 40+ pages I have to collectively write before the end of November. Oh Joy!!Okay, it is a known fact that Mantissa is an allegory of the creative process and within the novel there are many references to critical theory. However, the part I grapple with most is authorship.

Although Foucault, Bathes, and many others believe the author is dead, he is very much alive in Mantissa. I am having a hard time separating the idea of the author being dead when he is staring straight back at in Mantissa. I mean really, there he is, living, breathing, and fornicating on practically every page.

Mantissa calls into question authorship and inspiration in many ways. Derrida, Barthes, and Foucault believe that the author is completely separate from his/her text. However, I feel as though Mantissa offers a different perspective. The premise of the novel is to release Miles from his writers block through divine inspiration. However, I find it quite clever Erato’s play on authorship starting on page 170.

Erato begins to tell Miles about a book she wrote under a pseudonym. The book was entitled “Men, Will They Ever Grow Up?” However, the book’s real title is revealed as Homer’s Odyssey. Now we all know that Erato did not write the novel, since Erato is a muse (a fictional character in this book and probably a fictional thing in real life) we know that she had nothing to do with it.

Erato said, “Darling, you mustn’t feel jealous just because my one clumsy little attempt at writing has become a kind of a fluke best-seller” After Erato speaks, Miles continues to rant on about how the Odyssey could only have been written by a man because of its genius.
Now, I am not going to go through a quote about two pages of dialogue, you all can go read pages 170-174. However, I think that this passage is not only sexist, it is exemplary of the author function. Does it really matter who wrote the Odyssey?

Barthes said, “To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to finish it with a final
signified, to close the writing.” Miles implication that the author does matter really strays away from theory.

Maybe I have Mantissa all wrong. I know it incorporates all of these theories; however, I feel like the absurdity of this novel discredits theory and makes it post-theory. If the author is dead, why is Miles/Fowles such a prominent figure in this novel?

I think this is all I have for now. I know there are a million and one other theories present in Mantissa... I can't wait to read other thoughts and deconstructions!

Any comments?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Crazy Lady in the Wall

Well, you see…. I took me a while to think of a topic for my paper. I have always been interested in feminism because I don’t think I understand it. However, I really feel as though I should understand it because a women. So, I am writing my paper on feminist criticism and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper.

I read Gilman’s short story in high school and was very interested in the piece. Those of you that read Yellow Wallpaper may remember how remarkably deranged it was. However, I think this piece is so interesting.

For those if you that don’t know the story I will provide a brief synopsis. Yellow Wallpaper is about a woman driven to madness. The story consists of a few journal entries in which a new mother presents signs of postpartum depression; symptoms of which her physician husband, John, dismiss. While on vacation the main character is ordered, by her husband, to remain in a room adorned with yellow wallpaper until she overcomes her “minor” depression.

While locked in the room the narrator becomes obsessed with the wallpaper and believes that it comes to life in the night. Finally, the woman believes that a female figure is trying to escape the wall paper and she must help this woman out of the paper. The story concludes with the narrator stripping the wallpaper like a crazed and psychotic woman. Her husband finds her and passes out from shock. The final image of the story is of the narrator exclaiming, “I’ve got out at last,” while walking in circles around the room.

Interesting? I happen to think so. If any of you have not read this story you can find it online. It’s a quick read!

Now, in my paper I will attempt to relate this story to feminist theory and criticism. Many of the articles I found for my annotated bibliography explained what feminism/feminist criticism is. I think these articles helped a great deal however, I think I am going to have a difficult time writing a paper I am proud of.

Some of my ideas include, but are not limited to, relating this paper to the idea of male power, domesticity, and obviously power and powerlessness. Her husband is a prime example of this power and the external hegemony. Women at this time were not supposed to be depressed and if they were they were forced not to show it. Therefore, the male patriarchy forced this woman to go mad. Also, I can relate this piece to psychoanalysis to expose the main characters struggle with her female identity (represented by the woman in the wall).

Another interesting theme in this story is the use of language. The narrator was allowed to express herself in writing and never verbally because she was silenced. Does this mean that woman’s writing represents the oppressed and does this make writing a feminine trait? Finally, I would love to relate this story to language and Saussure… I liked his stuff a lot; I will figure what I want to do with this later…

Naturally I question my topic. I am sure after I read everyone else’s ideas I will want to change my topic, but that’s to be expected. I am very fickle when it comes to choosing a topic because I want it to be REALLLLY good.

Any suggestions, comments, or concerns???

I think I may have to change my topic..... SOmething irks me about having the same topic as someone else.... Back to the drawing board.... maybe

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Keanu, Ken, and Baudrillard

Okay, so this is where I have a hard time blogging. I really enjoyed Ken’s post. Once again it was very clear and east to read, which is a nice change of pace from our theory readings. I must say that I don’t really have anything to say. I am all tapped out. It is hard coming up with clever and through provoking things every week. My brain is tired. However, I will try and tease out some things in Ken’s post that I found interesting and note worthy.

Ken refers to Baudrillard’s comments on labor and Marxism. Capitalism really doesn’t care about who produces, it is all about consumption and neutralizing the ‘use-value.’ I think this is a very bold and true statement. Even if Marxism tried to focus on the producer, the man behind the machine, it inevitably wouldn’t matter because I don’t think any form of anti-capitalism could ever be achieved. Do I really care about the person who made my shiny new phone, skinny jeans, or makeup? No, all that matters is my dollah billz. Maybe I have this all wrong, maybe I will never understand Marxism… I don’t think I ever really want to, but the relationship between consumer and producer will always be relevant because of our society.

After getting through Baudrillard and Marxism, I really understood the whole cow/hay example and thought it was a perfect example to use. This brings me to concur with the idea that society could never exist without signification. Let’s face it, we would all go MAD!

Finally, I really like the ideas behind simulacrum and simulation. I mean how ridiculous can theory really get? I have already accepted so many of these crazy ideas as “truths,” or at least taken them into consideration, and now they want to spring this on me???!!!! Oh boy.

Okay, so let’s be serious here. I know that the search for reality is key to critical theory; I get that part. However, I think all of these people really discredit the realities that we face every day. What would Baudrillard say about 9-11? What would any of these people say if they were still alive?

I understand the Disney and Epcot synthesis however, how can there ever be a copy of something without an original. In order for a “copy” to be made there must be an original to be copied. I believe in originals! I believe in the real!!! I am not going to give away the real. I have been through too many “REAL” experiences to just say goodbye to it. Perhaps this is where I get lost, any suggestions?

Also, Keanu is such a great actor. He is so versatile and really should be up for this year’s life time achievement award. Sarcasm, sarcasm, sarcasm.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bang-Bang! THUD! The Author is DEAD!!!!

I think I am finally starting to understand this whole theory thing. Although this weeks Barry reading was dry, I really enjoyed Barthes’ “The Death of the Author.” I actually felt as though I understood some of what someone was talking about…for once.

The author is dead and I finally killed him. Wow, who would have thought I would agree with this statement. I think it was a month ago when I refused to kill him off. However, I understand it now. Barthes said, “To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to finish it with a final
signified, to close the writing.” I never thought of this perspective. I mean really, what does the author really have to do with anything if he/she is just a product of the times? After all Barthes said, “[a] book itself is only a tissue of signs.”

After my extensive walk through the blog-o-sphere, I discovered Bitch PH.D. Now, I must say that I am not one for reading every rant in the blog world; however, I did find what Ms. Bitch had to say appealing.

Dr. Bitch began talking about pseudonyms in the blogging community. She said, “Pseudonyms prevent texts from being impersonal, from pretending to objectivity; they draw attention to the author’s role in a way that a straight byline does not. At the same time, though, pseudonyms make a text more fully public: by hiding the author’s identity, the author becomes potentially anyone.”
Isn’t this exactly what Barthes and Foucault talk about in their essays? Isn’t pseudonymity a parallel for these theoretical beliefs? Perhaps this is what makes authorship so problematic. When I look at an author’s name, I immediate think of a context and other works they have written; I am already biased!

Since I have a hard time releasing the author from his work, I should adopt the idea that an Author is pseudonomininous (this is not a real word, but I like it). This relates to the whole idea of blogging. Blogging is almost like a production, it turns writers into actors on a stage where no ones identity is ever really fixed or set in stone.

Hmmmmm..... The picture you may ask??? Its how theory makes me feel... most days.