Today’s Discussion Topics: Marxist & Feminist Criticism: John Updike’s “A & P” & Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Girls & Gadgets, Girls & “the Goods” “Damaged Goods”? Remember Marge Piercy‟s “Barbie Doll” (G 647-48): “She was advised to play coy, […] / So she cut off her nose and her legs / and offered them up. // In the casket displayed on satin she lay […] / Doesn‟t she look pretty?, everyone said. / Consummation at last. / To every woman a happy ending” (12-25) Also remember “My Last Duchess” (woman as art object) Woman as commodity What Do Marxist Critics Do? Karl Marx (1818-1883) Frederic Jameson (1934-), famous American literary theorist & Marxist political theorist Terry Eagleton (1943-), famous British literary theorist, began his career very much interested in Marxist theory Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1942-), famous Indian literary theorist, Marxist, teaches at Columbia University They ask: How could literature be considered as a battleground for individual gain? (See G 1289-90 for review.) Characters as powerful oppressors and powerless victims What economic forces could be driving literary plots & themes? Writing and reading are acts of production and consumption. What external forces drive education, publication, and literary tastes? What Do Feminist/Gender Critics Do? Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British modernist novelist, essayist, short story writer Betty Friedan (1921-2006), American writer & activist, author of The Feminine Mystique (1963)— sparked 2nd wave feminism Gloria Steinem (1934-), American journalist, social & political activist Naomi Wolf (1962-), American author & political consultant, author of The Beauty Myth (1990)— sparked 3rd wave feminism A literary critical lens often driven by political interests in improving women‟s lot under patriarchy Has been around in some form ever since readers became interested in gender roles; rose to prominence in 1970s with women‟s lib movement They ask: How do literary texts demonstrate the repression and oppression of women in different periods and cultures? How do female literary characters overcome oppression by sexist power structures? Rediscovery of women writers who have been previously ignored Has broadened into gender criticism, which asks: How are men‟s and women‟s socialized roles (ways of thinking and behaving) displayed in literature? “A & P” by John Updike (G 300- 305) Why does Sammy quit work at the A & P? Hormones? To impress Queenie? Both? How could we apply a Marxist critique to “A & P”? What is Sammy‟s attitude toward the shoppers? What evidence can we find in the text that he takes this attitude? “A & P” John Updike (G 300-305) (The picture at left is made up of PLU [Price Look-Up] stickers that you find on produce.) Feminist criticism: What attitude toward women is implied by Sammy‟s attitude toward the girls, especially Queenie? Briefly back to “Araby”… An epiphany is: “[a]n appearance or manifestation, especially of a divine being”; Joyce adapted the term to secular use in 1944 so it means “a sudden sense of radiance and revelation one may feel while perceiving a commonplace object; a moment or event in which the essential nature of a person, a situation, or an object is suddenly perceived, as at the end of Joyce‟s „Araby‟ (p. 101)” (G 1361). Joyce Carol Oates (b. 1938) Extremely prolific American author—has written over 50 novels, volumes of poetry, & collections of short stories Destructive forces and sudden violence major themes of her work Three-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize (prestigious award for American letters & journalism) “Where Are You Going Where Have You Been?” (1966) (G 318-332) YouTube video (13:25) Discussion Questions: 1.) How does the protagonist of "Araby" and Sammy in "A & P" compare with Arnold Friend in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" What view does the narrator take of each? Identify prominent images and the themes they suggest. 2.) Does Connie have anything like an epiphany in the Oates story? If so, can you find textual evidence of it? (For a definition of "epiphany," see p. 1361 in the Gardner anthology.) If so, how does it compare to the epiphany of the protagonist in "Araby”? What We’ve Done So Far with Literary Theory… Traditional & New Criticism (poetry) Psychological Criticism (Kevin‟s lecture on The Metamorphosis) Reader Response Criticism (Irina‟s lecture on “Araby”) Today: Postcolonial & Critical Race Theory Marxist & Feminist Criticisms (Prof. Ghosh‟s lectures & discussion section—“Araby,” “A & P,” & “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”) Old & New Historicism (Kellye‟s lecture on “The Management of Grief”) Critical Race & Postcolonial Theory & Criticism (“You Can‟t Get Lost in Cape Town,” “Everyday Use”) Structuralism: another tool in the literary critical toolkit Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913), Swiss linguist whose work laid the foundations of structuralism Claude Levi-Strauss (1908- 2009), French anthropologist and ethnologist, “the father of modern anthropology” Roland Barthes (1915- 1980), French literary theorist, critic, philosopher, & semiotician Structuralist Chickens & “Traditional/New Critical” Eggs The larger (cultural) structures of which a text is a part; can include specific cultural beliefs, ideologies, literary forms (genre), etc., which literary structuralists are interested in. The “text itself,” what traditional literary critics focused upon Further Resources on Literary Theory & Criticism Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. 2nd ed. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2002. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. 4th ed. Ed. J.A. Cuddon. New York: Penguin, 2000. Culler, Jonathan. Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford UP, 2000. The Norton Anthology of Criticism and Theory. 2nd ed. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch, William E. Cain, Laurie Finke, and Barbara Johnson. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2001.
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