Where My Love For Writing & Thinking Meet

Reader-Response Theory
March 28, 2017, 5:50 am
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So Robert Dale Parker is actually a professor himself. His take on the reader-response theory is very interesting. He argues that people’s different walks of lives cause them to have diverse readings of the same text, but how ultimately there can only be one meaning. I introduced an analogy in class during my presentation, which may have confused some and helped some. So take a spoon for example. When spoons were first discovered, nobody what to do with it. However, the standard became to use it as a utensil. Overtime, spoons have been modified like we have big spoons, small spoons, deep spoons, etc. The purpose of a spoon remains eternal despite the changes. Similarly, this is what Parker argues about reader-response.

Here are some notes and picture from my presentation to help you better understand this theory:

  • How an external source defines it: Reader-response criticism is a school of literary theory that focuses on the reader (audience) and their experience of a literary work rather than other school of theories that focus on the author, the content, and/or the form of the work.
  • How Parker defines it: Originally arising excitement in the late 1960s, reader-response theory/criticism speaks to our literary encounter as readers who are intensely aware of ourselves—> our reading of a text is directly to who we are and what we do

Strategy for Navigating Honors Exam
March 15, 2017, 12:51 am
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So the honors exam is divided in three sections: genre, historical context, and theory. I can use some secondary sources at hand to make “The Yellow Wallpaper” applicable to all categories, but I’m conflicted on which one I should use it for.

As of now, this is my strategy plan:

For genre, I plan on using “Bartleby the Scrivener.” As of now I cannot connect this to any other text on our honors exam reading list through a parable lens. I have started my research and have found plenty of sources that support my reading of Herman Melville’s text as a parable, some scholarly and respectable sources while others not so much. I think my main secondary source for this will be: Stempel, Daniel, and Bruce M. Stillians. “Bartleby the Scrivener: A Parable of Pessimism.” Nineteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 27, no. 3, 1972, pp. 268–282., www.jstor.org/stable/2932890.

For historical context, I want to use more than one text to talk about slavery. I can do this through “Negro Hero” by Gwendolyn Brooks and Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. For this section, I am not sure what kind of historical research to bring into conversation with my texts. I can obviously talk about slavery in America and the impact it had on the black community. On the other hand, I could talk about something more specific like marriage conditions for slaves or different forms of cruelty. Any suggestions? For this section, I was originally planning on A Midsummer Night’s Dream because there’s a lot of Greek mythology in that text that I can use as historical context to interpret that text, but I want to use more than one primary text in at least one section. I mean if anyone knows what other text I can use with Shakespeare’s text and have an actual historical connection, I would happily do this instead.

For theory, I am going to use Robert Parker’s reader-response chapter because it is the one I understand best so I will be able to talk about it in the course of 700+ words. I guess I’ll use “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman for this section. I know we can bring in one primary text of our own so I was thinking of bringing in Arlene Sardine, which is a children’s book that I used in my senior thesis. For Gilman’s work, I can use the secondary source that I used when I gave my presentation while connecting that to Parker’s chapter. For Arlene Sardine I can use Karen Coats’s “Teaching Fish Stories,” which discusses multiple readings done by a variety of readers as well and then tie that back to Parker. Sounds solid, no?

Flexibility and Modularity: I think for this section, one text that I can be really flexible with is “The Yellow Wallpaper.” However, I feel like if I’m going to bring in other texts and be flexible with them, they have to have some sort of connection with the texts at hand, but as of now I don’t think there are any other texts that correlate with this pool of works. However, I am open to suggestions that’ll help me to see some texts other ways and work with multiple texts.

How We Can Use Jürgen Wolter’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper”: The Ambivalence of Changing Discourses on The Honors Exam to Analyze This Reading
March 11, 2017, 6:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I apologize for not promptly putting up my blog post on my presentation from last week. I had to type up my notes onto the PowerPoint and export it as a PDF to attach to this post. I have not been able to do the latter because I’m not tech savvy. Apparently, I can’t make attachments on the post, and I do not know how to access the link to a PowerPoint PDF from a Mac. I will add all the notes from my slides below, as well as explain how we can use this source.

On one of my slides, I spoke briefly about our author’s history: Her name is Charlotte Perkins Gilman, but she was formerly known as Charlotte Perkins Stetson. She was born in Harford, Connecticut on July 3, 1860 and died in California on August 17, 1935. In her early 70s, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which presumably caused her to commit suicide 3 years later. She was a well-known American sociologist, novelist, and feminist. She came from an influential background, but her family was poor. Her father abandoned her family when she was 4. She met Charles Stetson at the age of 23, and had a baby early on in their marriage. After birth, she sunk into a deep depression that lasted several years. She went to a well-known doctor at the time who prescribed her the rest cure. He told her not to touch a brush, pen, or pencil as long as she lived. This almost mentally ruined her, so she wrote this story to save people from being crazy. (Source: Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper)

Then I summarized the plot of the story and its emphasis on setting. Since our unnamed narrator kept referring back to the yellow wallpaper in the room she was residing in, I drew an association to gothic literature. Through the use of the Bedford Glossary, I defined gothic literature and its elements while applying them to “The Yellow Wallpaper.” For example, we have a mysterious narrator. She remains unnamed (this is controversial because some argues her name is Jane). Gothic literature also is big on setting, which is prevalent in our short story. Another correlation that could be drawn from gothic literature to our short story is the supernatural element, which arguably exists within the wallpaper when our narrator starts to see a woman or sometimes women.

I briefly also discussed the characters: Our unnamed character is currently living in a colonial mansion, more specifically a nursery room. Her place is currently undergoing renovations, and she has a baby. From the first sentence of the short story, we learn that our narrator is from the middle class, has a husband, and is a woman. John, her husband, is a physician and can be depicted as an overcaring or neglectful husband. Jennie, John’s sister, resides with our narrator and John as a maid figure. According to our narrator, she occasionally spies on her.

On the other hand, Wolter’s text analyzes the change in the use of the wallpaper’s interior decoration, debate on the color yellow, and effects on intellectual activity on the health of females. The last section of this work can be used to analyze “The Yellow Wallpaper” as a feminist text. This source was shared by the professor and in the last few pages under the last heading before the conclusion, we can see how Wolter construes this text to show how our narrator’s gender is ironically used. Wolter also notes how her husband, John, faints by the end of the short story, which was something that was commonly used to describe the sensitivity of females in Victorian era. Our narrator who is confined as a female in her society breaks through by the end as she tears away the yellow wallpaper itself. There are many other important connections Wolter makes throughout the last section of his argument that prove this text is a feministic reading.

I know this was a lot of information, but feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. I apologize for not being able to upload the PowerPoint, but I’ve summarized everything here so you’re not missing anything but the visuals.

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