2:00 class (by Matt Massey)
We started off by reviewing the status of professor evaluations for our class. Congratulations to everyone on our collective efforts to score a little extra credit. Dr. Seaman referred to us as “overachievers”, who had “hit the mark.” However, we do still have a few hold outs that have not completed their evaluations. While we may no longer be hunting you down and demanding your completion of this task, we do still offer acts of encouragement for your participation.
We also laid out some preliminary plans for a little soirée for our final exam meeting. A list was circulated for everyone to list what they plan to bring. There was a minor debate that erupted over dips or salsas. However, the issue was quickly resolved by a decision in favor of having both items. Also, no one raised any red flags as to peanut or other food allergies, so we’re good there.
Reminder to everyone that there are two opportunities for extra credit via blog posts. You may post another blog for this week and/or post your project proposal to be considered for extra credit. (btw, project proposals are/were due in OAKS Tuesday at 9AM) On another note, Dr. Seaman kindly offered to provide us with updated grade information should you email a request to her.
After the general housekeeping items on the agenda were discussed, we moved onto what happens after theory. We discussed how theory doesn’t necessarily end now that it seems we’ve theorized everything basically. Instead, theory continues in a bunch of different directions. Since the late 1990s there has been four areas of development in theory; empiricism, less materialism, reduction in linguistic constructivism and situational. Empiricism is moving away from working things out philosophically and relying more on experience, data and information. Less materialism refers to the lack of orientation toward a worldly, tangible experience and more focus placed on the meta-physical or spiritual aspects. Reduction in linguistic constructivism refers to the reduced prominence of the idea that language is everything or everything is language, that nothing really is, except the way language describes it. The situational refers to a focus being placed on major, global conflict and pessimism. We discussed these areas, their focuses and origins, and we also talked briefly about the fair amount of time it takes for these ideas to arrive at the classroom level.
Then we moved on to examining a few other approaches that were not included in Theory Toolbox. We looked first at the Presentism approach. This approach is focused on looking at the text in terms of the modern context versus looking at the text within its own historical context. It is seen as a reaction against the historical approaches of the 1980s and before. Presentism seeks to extract “the present from the past”, seemingly seeking to speak with the living and not to speak with the dead as was done in the historical approaches. It basically comes down to a choice of context to approaching literature.
We also looked at New Aestheticism, which is an approach that seeks to “dialogue with [the text] rather than have mastery over it”. This approach rose from the discussions concerning the artistic value of a work that were taking place in the 1990s. It asserts that literature and poetry are different from everyday language and focuses on literature and poetry as art. In this context, texts regained their autonomy. An essential component of New Aestheticism is a rejection of the hermeneutics of suspicion, which basically describes theory in its early form. In this framework, the reader is positioned to reveal what the text doesn’t want to have revealed, with the purpose of interpretation being to reveal the hidden agenda of the text.
Our next stop was Cognitive Poetics. In this approach, linguistics and psychology combine to provide a better understanding of cognitive processes. This approach owes its rise in part to the advancement of technologies that have allowed us to map the functions of the human brain and study its mechanisms. Additionally, this approach is grounded in the works of theorists B.F. Skinner, who viewed language acquisition as a cumulative response to external stimuli, and Noam Chomsky, who wrote a review of Skinner’s Book Verbal Behavior in which he challenged Skinner’s idea that language is acquired through external stimuli and presented language acquisition as a “creative, internalizing process for which the human mind is uniquely equipped.” It is the combination of these two fields, linguistics and psychology, that serve as the foundation for this approach. Dr. Seaman concluded the discussion with asking us for our final thoughts. Our final thoughts were recorded simply as a “marked period of dead silence.” Then we were told to take what we have learned over the course of this semester and apply our knowledge in future classes and beyond. Good luck to everyone in all future endeavors.
“WooHoooooooooooo!” – Taylor, on reactions to our last day of classes.
“Text in terms of the current day.” – Blake, on Presentism.
“I just have to write down everything that goes down.” – Myself, on how to do a weekly review.