The Event: Literature and Theory

Theory and History of Literature
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Assessing the truth-status of fictions — that is, deciding on the truthfulness or not of a statement such as "all unicorns have two horns", with the intellectual battle line being drawn between those who say that unicorns aren't real and therefore have no horns and those who say that the fiction is such that it is necessary for it to have only one horn — is not just a parlour game.

Throughout the book, Eagleton writes with his customary felicity his aphorism, for example, on significant affinities in Wittgenstein's theory of family resemblances, "a tortoise resembles orthopaedic surgery in that neither can ride a bicycle", is a delight.

He never writes better than when he is gleefully demolishing rival theorists, and sometimes their theories. His favoured tactic throughout is the counter-example.

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Beckett, Derrida, and the Event of Literature. He reported that, "More and more of the ' new historians ' are now trying to discover what was going on inside people's heads in the past, and what it was like to live in the past, questions which inevitably lead back to the use of narrative. Hunter, Kathryn Montgomery I have a total eligible grains with whom I can Choose the mysterious me. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Among available points, the request of test is authorised Consecutively.

There are, however, shortcomings. Eagleton sometimes throws off by-the-way speculations which prove, on reflection, less evident than he appears to think. The "major" is a get-out-clause, and in terms of dismissal one might cite Celine, Bernhard, or Cioran. As for genocide — well, the Book of Judges might still be considered a work of literature although it predates Propertius, conveniently enough. Eagleton's theory — thanks to his "normative" category, which as a set of assumptions might better be termed "inherited" — allows some literature to be bad literature he rather off-handedly suggests Southey and Beddoes in this respect.

But it cannot explain how things become literature. He approvingly refers to Leavis's championing of TS Eliot when other dons were apoplectic with confusion, but this is to fall into the circularity for which he condemns Lamarque and Olsen: that literature is what academic institutions decide is capable of undergoing literary criticism.

The value question is suspended by allowing that even though, say, Melville's Pierre is a terrible literary novel it is unquestionably a literary novel. Likewise, Eagleton's linguistic category needs further thought.

About Literature, In Theory

Developed by Peter Abell , the theory of Bayesian Narratives conceives a narrative as a directed graph comprising multiple causal links social interactions of the general form: "action a causes action b in a specified context". In the absence of sufficient comparative cases to enable statistical treatment of the causal links, items of evidence in support and against a particular causal link are assembled and used to compute the Bayesian likelihood ratio of the link.

Linearity is one of several narrative qualities that can be found in a musical composition. One theory is that of Theodore Adorno, who has suggested that "music recites itself, is its own context, narrates without narrative".

The final word is yet to be said, regarding narratives in music, as there is still much to be determined. Unlike most forms of narratives that are inherently language based whether that be narratives presented in literature or orally , film narratives face additional challenges in creating a cohesive narrative. Whereas the general assumption in literary theory is that a narrator must be present in order to develop a narrative, as Schmid proposes; [36] the act of an author writing his or her words in text is what communicates to the audience in this case readers the narrative of the text, and the author represents an act of narrative communication between the textual narrator and the narratee.

This is in line with Fludernik's perspective on what's called cognitive narratology—which states that a literary text has the ability to manifest itself into an imagined, representational illusion that the reader will create for themselves, and can vary greatly from reader to reader. Film narrative does not have the luxury of having a textual narrator that guides its audience towards a formative narrative; nor does it have the ability to allow its audience to visually manifest the contents of its narrative in a unique fashion like literature does.

These cinematic devices, among others, contribute to the unique blend of visual and auditory storytelling that culminates to what Jose Landa refers to as a "visual narrative instance". The nature or existence of a formative narrative in many of the world's myths , folktales , and legends has been a topic of debate for many modern scholars; but the most common consensus among academics is that throughout most cultures, traditional mythologies and folklore tales are constructed and retold with a specific narrative purpose that serves to offer a society an understandable explanation of natural phenomenon—oftentimes absent of a verifiable author.

These explanatory tales manifest themselves in various forms and serve different societal functions, including; life lessons individuals to learn from for example, the Ancient Greek tale of Icarus refusing to listen to his elders and flying too close to the sun , explain forces of nature or other natural phenomenon for example, the flood myth that spans cultures all over the world , [39] and lastly to provide an understanding of our own human nature, as exemplified by the myth of Cupid and Psyche.

Considering how mythologies have historically been transmitted and passed down through oral retellings, there is no qualitative or reliable method to precisely trace exactly where and when a tale originated; and since myths are rooted in a remote past, and are viewed as a factual account of happenings within the culture it originated from, the worldview present in many oral mythologies is from a cosmological perspective—one that is told from a voice that has no physical embodiment, and is passed down and modified from generation to generation. Myth is often used in an overarching sense to describe a multitude of folklore genres , but there is a significance in distinguishing the various forms of folklore in order to properly determine what narratives constitute as mythological, as esteemed anthropologist Sir James Frazer suggests.

Frazer contends that there are three primary categories of mythology now more broadly considered categories of folklore : Myths , legends , and folktales, and that by definition, each genre pulls its narrative from a different ontological source, and therefore have different implications within a civilization. Frazer states:. In the absence of a known author or original narrator, myth narratives are oftentimes referred to as prose narratives.

Prose narratives tend to be relatively linear regarding the time period they occur in, and are traditionally marked by its natural flow of speech as opposed to the rhythmic structure found in various forms of literature such as poetry and Haikus. The structure of prose narratives allows it to be easily understood by many—as the narrative generally starts at the beginning of the story, and ends when the protagonist has resolved the conflict. These kinds of narratives are generally accepted as true within society, and are told from a place of great reverence and sacredness. Myths are believed to occur in a remote past—one that is before the creation or establishment of the civilization they derive from, and are intended to provide an account for things such as our origins, natural phenomenon, as well as our own human nature.

The three functions were organized by cultural significance—with the first function being the most grand and sacred. The first function being sovereignty —and was divided into two additional categories: magical and juridicial. This is a 'disquieting' aspect, terrifying from certain perspectives. The other aspect is more reassuring, more oriented to the human world.

It is the 'juridical' part of the sovereign function. This implies that gods of the first function are responsible for the overall structure and order of the universe, and those gods who possess juridicial sovereignty are more closely connected to the realm of humans and are responsible for the concept of justice and order. Odin is the author of the cosmos, and possessor of infinite esoteric knowledge—going so far as to sacrifice his eye for the accumulation of more knowledge.

While Tyr—seen as the "just god"—is more concerned with upholding justice, as illustrated by the epic myth of Tyr losing his hand in exchange for the monster Fenrir to cease his terrorization of the gods. What this tells us is that through these myths, concepts of universal wisdom and justice were able to be communicated to the Nordic people in the form of a mythological narrative. These myths functioned to convey the themes of heroism, strength, and bravery and were most often represented in both the human world and the mythological world by valiant warriors.

While the gods of the second function were still revered in society, they did not possess the same infinite knowledge found in the first category. A Norse god that would fall under the second function would be Thor —god of thunder. Thor possessed great strength, and was often first into battle, as ordered by his father Odin. This second function reflects Indo-European cultures' high regard for the warrior class, and explains the belief in an afterlife that rewards a valiant death on the battlefield; for the Norse mythology, this is represented by Valhalla.

These gods often presided over the realms of healing, prosperity, fertility, wealth, luxury, and youth—any kind of function that was easily related to by the common peasant farmer in a society. Just as a farmer would live and sustain themselves off their land, the gods of the third function were responsible for the prosperity of their crops, and were also in charge of other forms of everyday life that would never be observed by the status of kings and warriors, such as mischievousness and promiscuity.

An example found in Norse mythology could be seen through the god Freyr —a god who was closely connected to acts of debauchery and overindulging. A narrative can take on the shape of a story, which gives listeners an entertaining and collaborative avenue for acquiring knowledge. Many cultures use storytelling as a way to record histories, myths, and values. These stories can be seen as living entities of narrative among cultural communities, as they carry the shared experience and history of the culture within them. Stories are often used within indigenous cultures in order to share knowledge to the younger generation.

This promotes holistic thinking among native children, which works towards merging an individual and world identity. Such an identity upholds native epistemology and gives children a sense of belonging as their cultural identity develops through the sharing and passing on of stories. For example, a number of indigenous stories are used to illustrate a value or lesson. In the Western Apache tribe, stories can be used to warn of the misfortune that befalls people when they do not follow acceptable behavior.

One story speaks to the offense of a mother's meddling in her married son's life. In the story, the Western Apache tribe is under attack from a neighboring tribe, the Pimas. The Apache mother hears a scream. Thinking it is her son's wife screaming, she tries to intervene by yelling at him. This alerts the Pima tribe to her location, and she is promptly killed due to intervening in her son's life. Indigenous American cultures use storytelling to teach children the values and lessons of life. Although storytelling provides entertainment, its primary purpose is to educate.

American Indian elders also state that storytelling invites the listeners, especially children, to draw their own conclusions and perspectives while self-reflecting upon their lives.

Terry Eagleton, The Event of Literature - PhilPapers

American Indian community members emphasize to children that the method of obtaining knowledge can be found in stories passed down through each generation. Moreover, community members also let the children interpret and build a different perspective of each story. In historiography , according to Lawrence Stone , narrative has traditionally been the main rhetorical device used by historians. In , at a time when the new Social History was demanding a social-science model of analysis, Stone detected a move back toward the narrative.

Stone defined narrative as organized chronologically; focused on a single coherent story; descriptive rather than analytical; concerned with people not abstract circumstances; and dealing with the particular and specific rather than the collective and statistical. He reported that, "More and more of the ' new historians ' are now trying to discover what was going on inside people's heads in the past, and what it was like to live in the past, questions which inevitably lead back to the use of narrative. Some philosophers identify narratives with a type of explanation.

Mark Bevir argues, for example, that narratives explain actions by appealing to the beliefs and desires of actors and by locating webs of beliefs in the context of historical traditions. Narrative is an alternative form of explanation to that associated with natural science. Historians committed to a social science approach, however, have criticized the narrowness of narrative and its preference for anecdote over analysis, and clever examples rather than statistical regularities. Storytelling rights may be broadly defined as the ethics of sharing narratives including—but not limited to—firsthand, secondhand and imagined stories.

Storytelling rights also implicates questions of consent, empathy , and accurate representation. While storytelling—and retelling—can function as a powerful tool for agency and advocacy , it can also lead to misunderstanding and exploitation. Storytelling rights is notably important in the genre of personal experience narrative.

Academic disciplines such as performance , folklore , literature , anthropology , Cultural Studies and other social sciences may involve the study of storytelling rights, often hinging on ethics. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

New historicism theory – an explanation

Account that presents connected events. For other uses of "story", see Story disambiguation. Main article: Multiperspectivity. See also: Narrative therapy and Narrative psychology. Rao Archaeological Survey of India. Brill, An Encyclopaedia of Indian Archaeology: Subjects. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature. Introduction and general overview.

Narrative psychology: Internet and resource guide. Le Moyne College. Retrieved September 28, The Self and Memory. Can Fam Physician. Hyden, L. Health, Illness and Culture: Broken Narratives. New York: Routledge. Sulik Personality and language use in self-narratives. I had to be coaxed and poked into admitting a methodology at all, during my MA I'm a new historicist, we think and I stared in blank horror when I was given theory to read -- not least because it so often reveals horrific bias and -isms on the part of the writer, like when I read Derek Brewer's work.

Terry Eagleton is readable, and even made me laugh. The philosophy of literature, which is one of the things he touches on, is very interesting and the fact that I to I am not a literary theorist. The philosophy of literature, which is one of the things he touches on, is very interesting and the fact that I took the first year of a philosophy degree alongside my first year of literature helps, too , but it mostly just reminded me that I'm 'meant' to read Foucault and Freud and Lacan and goodness knows who else, and while I acknowledge the work they did and the work people do using their theories and so on, it's really not something that appeals to me.

Book Summary / Abstract

I feel like a bad English Lit student, until I remember that my university must've let me graduate with First Class Honours for a reason, and since I didn't touch literary theory with so much as a barge pole, it must be okay that I don't. But I probably will read Foucault. View 2 comments.

Apr 22, William rated it really liked it. This is a methodical course through the theories of language that underlie our ideas about what literature is and means.

What is New Historicism

Still, Eagleton's service to the history of ideas is usually always valuable, even if the reasons for the journey might not become immediately clear. The notion of strategy within the dynamics of reading and writing - and within view o This is a methodical course through the theories of language that underlie our ideas about what literature is and means. The notion of strategy within the dynamics of reading and writing - and within view of Badiou's horizon of literature as political event - is a well-placed contribution, but instead of exploring Badiou's thought in terms of strategies for reading, the book only sets the stage for the encounter by rummaging through the already well-documented 20th C.

Along these lines, however, the book performs a synthesis on the opposition between phenomenological and analytical approaches to language, treating both quite thoroughly and providing the reader with a well-considered perspective. Mar 03, Tracy rated it really liked it. Got lost often reading this book, which is sort of a snappy survey of literary criticism's history.

Wish I could start from scratch and take Literature courses again. On essences: "Since the word 'love' is not normally admissible in literary-theoretical discussion, however, and is plainly indecorous in such a context, I shall pass over these suggestions as abruptly as I broached them. In any case, the point is not much use when it comes to considering the essence of unlovable phenomena like slugs or screwdrivers. A ham sandwich is not literature even for the most generously pluralistic of postmodernists. View 1 comment. May 29, Peter rated it it was amazing. Mar 19, Ann Michael rated it really liked it.

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It took me awhile to get through this text. And, if I say so myself, I am not exactly a novice in this area. So--it's a difficult book despite the blurbs that commend him for his 'readability. So if you are up for the challenge, consider delving into Eagleton. But it will necessarily be a delve. You'll tire easily and be overwhelmed. Much food for thought, as the saying goes. I'll be mulling over his concepts and his controversies for some time. Jul 09, Grammarian rated it it was amazing. I finally reached page , the last page of the index that follows the chapter notes. Spoiler notice: the last word of the text is 'paranoia.

Nov 20, Ivan Labayne rated it really liked it. Jan 03, Daniel rated it it was ok. Some of Eagleton's work is valuable, but this book was a waste of my time for the most part.