October 7, 2012

What I Learned (while reading) About Novels

In doing the reading on novels, I discovered something very important about my interaction with the texts in class: I don’t know why any of them are important outside of the context of the course. That doesn’t mean I haven’t tried to understand them or get into them. What it means is that I find it difficult to really take anything away from any of them because I’m not sure what I could take away. The reading has become for me a required activity that I must do rather than a required activity that I know can help me to better my understanding of anything. What I wish is that I could understand how these texts apply to the average person’s everyday. Once I understand that, the reading will hopefully be easier, at least in terms of motivation and what I can hope to get from them.

1 comment:

tgraban said...

Why, Kenneth, that's precisely (one of the reasons) why I have you writing the blog! ;)

As you work it out, consider some of the ways that others in each section have made the concepts relevant, or used the concepts to discover relevance that they might not have noted before.

In the case of Bakhtin's "Discourse in the Novel" (if that's the one you're referring to specifically), you might consider what the concept of "heteroglossia" or "heteroglots" allows us to do (or doesn't allow us to do). Also, I have been so curious to know whether your and others' experiences of reading novels have necessarily mirrored Bakhtin's? And, given that Bakhtin took a strong stance to promote the novel as discourse (over poetry and poetic forms), I have also been curious to know whether you and others' experiences of reading or writing poetry necessarily exclude heteroglots? In other words, can you think of genre forms that you might write and read or otherwise experience that do act the way Bakhtin describes his double-voiced discourse? If so, I'd love to know about them and to know what that means.

One student from last year's class took exception to Bakhtin's starting assumption that only the novel could be theorized in this way, especially since she was a great appreciator of prose poetry, and in sharing the following poem, she said she saw "heteroglossia" clearly at work in a poem whose principal goal was to enact a sociological critique of Katrina.

The poem is called "Left" by Nikki Finney. See what you think.


-Dr. Graban

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