Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Random bullets of reading criticism

  • When you're taking notes on a critical article and it's really good, do you find yourself taking so many notes and writing down so many quotations that you might as well memorize it?
  • Conversely, is there a halo/reverse halo effect when you read, much as there is when you read student papers, wherein after reading a really good article the next one seems pretty lame? Or is it that the article really isn't as good?
  • When you're reading a less-than-compelling article (have to be thorough!), do you ever succumb to the temptation to set free your inner snarky self? I find myself wanting to write things like "Dude! X made this argument 20 years ago" or "Well, duh!" even as I realize that this won't be helpful when I come back to the article in five years and wonder what on earth I was thinking.
  • Do you cringe when early critics (say, 1940s through 1960s) praise the "fidelity to Negro dialect" of some nineteenth-century author for something that we see as really, really racist?
  • Doesn't it make you wonder what tidbits of embarrassment critics of the future will find in our essays? For the record, I'm betting that all the "let's be dispassionate about/enthusiastic about describing the painful deaths of animals in the Hemingway manner" will be seen not as admirable aesthetic detachment but as a bad moral lapse by future generations of scholars.

    JM said...

    I feel compelled to comment on all points because I often wonder these same things...

    #1: yes, on several occasions!

    #2: I would buy that argument.

    #3: I have written "duh" in the margins on more than one occasion. It's fun to also follow up with "dude is totally high...that's just not true...BAD RESEARCH." Not that I did that recently or anything...

    #4: Totally cringe. I wrote a paper on Paul Laurence Dunbar that necessitated a familiarity with all the body of criticism...and I felt the need to take a shower afterwards.

    #5: yes, but I try not to think about it because I'm sure I'll be the one who writes one of those papers that will be pointed at and laughed at in years to come!

    adjunct whore said...

    hi-larious. yes on all of it. i try to avoid reading criticism from the 30s and 40s, usually skimming. unless of course it is brilliant and then i read it front to back and inside out.

    undine said...

    Glad to know it's not just me, jm and adjunct whore.