Contemporary Literary Theory and the Reading of Poetry by David Buchbinder

By David Buchbinder

Addresses the categorical query of ways specific theories produce convinced different types of readings of poems. This ebook bargains an advent to literary concept and its relation to the research of poetry, overlaying a normal dialogue of poetry and conception, new feedback, structuralism, deconstruction, Russian formalism and poetry and background. there's additionally a piece on poetry and gender, contributions via Barbara Milech. Following an creation to every of those parts, a poem is taken into account within the gentle of every specific severe process. This ebook is aimed in particular at undergraduate and postgraduate scholars, additional schooling and A-level scholars and tutors.

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We choose, consciously or unconSCiously, from a number of paradigms as we construct or analyse a statement. What we choose is given meaning, according to the laws of relation and opposition, by the paradigm drawn from, as opposed to other paradigms which we have rejected, and by the elements within that paradigm not selected. When elements come to be combined into more complex organisations, a syntagm is created. The relation of paradigm to syntagm is best visualised as a vertical list of possibilities from which a unit is drawn to be combined with others, according to the appropriate laws or codes, into a 'horizontal', that is, linear or serial, utterance: p a r a p a r a p a r a p a r a p a r a p a r a p a r a 5 y N T A G M d d d d d d d g m g m g m g m g m g m g m With the formation of a syntagmatic text, other laws are called into play.

Sets of relations and of oppositions are part of this, and to understand the text as a whole, the reader must look for these sets. This method of reading does not, like New Criticism, look immediately for an interpretation of the poem; rather, it seeks instead those structures or patterns that permit such a reading. These create what Culler calls the 'empty meaning' in the text (Structuralist Poetics 119), which is then available to be 'filled' with the more substantive meanings permitted by the actual semantic and lexical content of the text.

We become aware, as we read one poem, of how it resembles or defines itself against others, in terms of theme, treatment or language. This feature is called intertextuality, and is one of the ways by which we come to know the structure of poetry as a genre. The very first time we read or hear a poem, we may have difficulty coming to terms with it, but by the second time, we already have some intertextual knowledge about the way it works or sounds. As with other kinds of system, the principle of the completeness of the structure operates, even though we come to know it only slowly, and after reading many poetic texts.

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