Reflections on Readers, Texts, and Personal Arrogance

I will admit that over the course of this semester I may have occasionally dominated the conversation. Through no fault of my own, I will concede that I tend to come across as something of a know-it-all. My thoughts, especially where critical discussion of literature is concerned, can often race at a mile a minute, and oftentimes I’ll say my piece, remember something I meant to say, and then raise my hand again to share my invaluable information with the class. Continue reading “Reflections on Readers, Texts, and Personal Arrogance”

Final Reflection

Our education system is quite ironic—first, we stress about knowing the answers to questions; we study hard for tests, and we think we know quite a bit; but eventually, we realize the most important questions we can ask have no answers.  Sure, we can do some arithmetic; sure, we know how spelling, grammar, and mechanics work; sure, we know where, when, and by whom the Declaration of Independence was signed.  But, these are trivial.  The important questions of humanity remain unanswered.

Over the course of the semester, we analyzed and discussed texts—and more broadly, works of art—as individuals with their own identity.  What makes a text fit into a specific genre?  When does a different version of a text become a different text entirely? Who does a text belong to?  These are questions that I have thought about to certain extents before I came to Geneseo, and are very applicable to the world.  Maybe there is value in the liberal arts after all.  In all of our discussions in class and over the internet, we have never reached a solid answer to any of these questions. Perhaps this is a sign of truly mature and intellectual discussion.  True, we may have certain opinions and beliefs (I surly do), but do we really know the answer?  Herein lies my true takeaway from Fluid Readers, Fluid Texts: the arts are filled with gray area, no pure black and white.  As I, and I’m confident all of us have gotten higher and higher in our education system, we have struggled to view the world conceptually and theoretically. Success can no longer be pinned to memorizing a set of flashcards.  None of the material we’ve covered over the course of the semester is simple enough to be put on a flashcard.

I have certainly been challenged throughout the semester.  Admittedly, I could have done some things better to ease my stress.  Hindsight 20/20.  My abilities as a writer to adequately capture my ideas onto paper has also been challenged—our assignments deviated from the type of literary analysis which I am most comfortable with and forced my to think differently.  But, challenges are the only way to grow, and I definitely believe I have grown as a writer and a thinker.  Though it may sound somewhat chiche, I see the world differently and I have brought what we’ve learned in this class into other classes and areas of my life.

A Few Words from the Authors

It may seem difficult at time to decipher just exactly what an author’s message may be. There’s a sea of themes floating around, but how do they all connect? Perhaps the easiest way is not to take highly ornate notes on a single topic, but instead, attempt to make connections with other books. Even if that book seems like the polar opposite of another, there are messages which may tie together quite nicely. The first novel that we read, Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, is drastically different from any novel following it, like Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Despite the obvious differences between these two works, there still exists similar messages from different authors. Thoreau talks about a lot of the problems he would like to fix by isolating himself from society at Walden Pond. Both narrators in Carroll and Thoreau’s works that we’ve examined seem to take on the perspective of an observer to society. Alice comes into a world that is much different than the one she is used to, being quick to judge what she sees. She quickly learns, however, that there is no true definition to what’s normal. Thoreau also removes himself from the society he’s always been a member of so he can present an outside perspective. Some may say that he isn’t truly isolated from society, for he did have visitors and it seems difficult to be completely isolated. Even if I were to lock myself away in my bedroom for a few weeks, yes I would still be in my home (society) but I would not be directly in contact with society so that I could still sit with my thoughts. Later on in the novel, Thoreau explains how his experiences of living in solitude may be in opposition to what “they say.” He recognizes that living in solitude near a pond would cause others to question his well-being, but he realizes by living alone he can view the peculiarities of human nature. In going through with his plan to live as a man of nature, he immediately can make observations that he would not have able to within society. In Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol,” the protagonist is forced to leave his current “life” and observe his surroundings through various moments in his life.  The scene where he sees himself in his “prime” is harshly contrasted to the potential fate of Scrooge. The fear that he feels is similar to the way Mrs. Dalloway often felt when she had to look back on her early years. Each of the books that we’ve read has its unique plot, but the authors all seem to be preaching a similar idea. Thoreau advises his readers to take action for their lives, warning against fate unfolding your life for you. It’s inspiring the reader to believe that there is nothing more powerful than the ability to influence your surroundings. We are given a blank journal, and it is up to us whether or not we fill this book with moral and significant chapters of our lives. The identity of the author changes with how their message is reflected in their works. They all deal with different “They says” but have their own “I say.” They give us what they believe, and we can either take it or leave. 

 

The Finale

Before the semester started and we were introduced to the Fluid Reader and Text class, there were many things that I was not aware of. You may ask yourself what this class has been all about, and I emphasize the word about because of one of the lectures that we had talked about during class. We had reflected on this topic and  on the notion of dreaming in relationship to the stories of the Alice books. We gathered information that stated that “a story is about something, we might either be giving an account of what happens in it or offering an interpretation of its meaning.”  We also looked into the etymology of the word “about” that suggested that “to use this word in talking about a story is to think of the story as somehow circling around the events or meanings at its core. A story has a kind of narrative through-line that its incidents, in all their detail, cluster around and elaborate.” Continue reading “The Finale”

All About this Semester:Final Blogpost

Over the course of the semester, the question “What is this about?” has frequently popped up. In fact, that single question pretty much captures the whole theme of the class. With everything we read, we always asked the question “What is this story about?” Since this class is an English class, it only makes sense that we would ask such a question. However, we didn’t only address the most basic aspects of a story, which would be the easiest way to answer this question. Instead, we dared to look beyond the surface level of the text and dive into the meta aspects of each text we read.

Continue reading “All About this Semester:Final Blogpost”

Final Reflection: What Does it Mean to Major in Literature?

Not a totally infrequent question, though it’s never been too difficult coming up with some kind of a response, until now. Considering that ‘fluid-texts’ (literary works that exist in multiple versions) often cross genres and mix-mediums, as a consequence, the elements that comprise each re-telling insist that the academic be constantly reaching outside of the literary-framework in order to better grasp and appreciate the differences across all incarnations of a work. In this regard, we’re doing our due diligence when we listen to a ‘theme-song’ at the beginning of each class as it relates to a text we’ve been reading. However, the songs themselves might not classify as literature… or? Continue reading “Final Reflection: What Does it Mean to Major in Literature?”

The Importance of Dialogue and Teamwork – Reflections on ENGL 203

Of things I have learned in ENGL 203 reader and text, my overall knowledge of classic literature has been improved. However, this is not the truly novel aspect of what my time in this course has taught me. The real value I have obtained from my time spent in course has been from my new peers who have exposed me to new a variety of ideas and perspectives I had not previously been immersed in. Crucial elements of our coursework being identity and the reader, I have been shown a good deal of alternative points of view and outlooks different from my own. The ability to understand text and information from the different backgrounds and lives of others is characteristic which cannot be understated in its importance to me as I pursue a career in federal law enforcement. Conflict resolution and compassion for others as a law enforcement agent requires to no little degree, the willingness to hear others out on their perceptions and understand the motivations of others. As such, I have been glad to share a classroom with people who are from vastly differing backgrounds, ideologies, and cultures than my own. Continue reading “The Importance of Dialogue and Teamwork – Reflections on ENGL 203”

What Have We Learned?

Throughout the years, I’ve dealt with many different English classes of varying difficulty, that have all taught me important things to apply to texts whenever possible. This class is no exception, and through the semester I’ve learned many more important skills to use when analyzing texts. There are many things that I have been able to see in a different light because of this class; things that many people don’t even think or worry about in the first place. What I’m trying to say is, this class has probably taught me the most important analysis-based skills I will need, and I think this for a variety of reasons. Continue reading “What Have We Learned?”

Look Back at It

Moving on, I know I am certain about at least three things. The first, high school is officially over, and last minute dealings don’t work, ever. Secondly, the life that claims you after high school is nothing less than a mental battle ground. A war that many can’t survive, let alone attempt to. And thirdly, “college life” and life beyond, is simply a social bubble, where competition is rampant and the only way to survive is to be. Continue reading “Look Back at It”

The Effects of Reading Text

Looking back on  English 203 Reader and Text, one can say it was not only challenging, stressful, and frustrating but also, enlightening. I was able to find myself not only as a student but as a human being because this class made me extend my thoughts, skills and lifestyle. Throughout this semester we studied seven poems, and seven books, as well as analyze two films. The books, Adventures of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, and Walden, by Henry David Thoreau resonated with me the most because these pieces really speaks to the idea of identity and morals, understanding who we are and knowing the difference between right and wrong. These pieces taught me frustration because there a constant fight between myself and the writer. I was trying to understand their outlook while trying to find my own outlook. Continue reading “The Effects of Reading Text”