Friday, August 29, 2014


Many readers are intimidated by works in translation.  I can admit to you that I am, regrettably, one of them.  I can also admit to you that unless the work in translation is from a familiar "Western" culture, I am very leery about picking it up at all.  Why?  Because I am not in my present mind terribly interested in reading a book set in a place and time I don't know or understand.  This is changing for me since I have had some wonderful reading experiences now with works in translation, but that doesn't change the fact that I am hesitant.

I share this with you because I am wondering if perhaps some of you feel the same way.  I want to read works in translation because it seems sophisticated and "good for me" in a literary and academic sense, but I go into the experience expecting it to be more like a root canal than a virtual vacation (as I hope my reading experiences will be).  Why do you think that is?  Why do so many people look at reading works in translation like they may look at a plate of beets or liver and onions?  (food metaphors work for me!)

We focus a lot on cultural differences in this course and in Individuals and Societies course.  Maybe we should balance that focus with one on human connectivity.  Certainly there are many things that make us different, but there are also things that make us so much the same.  Think of this as the difference between reading critically and reading aesthetically:  when we look for connections, we often surprise ourselves by finding them.  :)

Read the article by clicking on this link.  Then, I would love to hear your response to the questions I have posed here, and the material presented in the article.  Enjoy!

PS:  I personally find both beets and liver appalling.  No offense intended.  ;)

Friday, August 22, 2014


Hello, Scholars!

This past week, we examined two very different theories on how to evaluate literature:  New Criticism (Formalism) and Reader's Response.  We also began our discussion of Structuralism.  As you probably surmised, most professors of literature use a combined approach of theory.  Elementary/high school English teachers in America tend to use a combined New Critic/Reader's Response approach, but then at the university level, they move to Post-Structuralism, which we will explore next week.

I am including links to three articles below, one for each of the theories we touched upon this past week. Choose ONE of the theories to read, and then respond to it in a post.  How does this theory sit with you?  Do you agree or disagree?  Why do you think there are such a wide array of approaches to literature?  Why do you think writers so often prefer New Criticism and Reader's Response?

I look forward to your posts!

New Criticism

Reader Response