This week we talked about the basics of academic theory and more specifically the academic writing style that dominates English as a discipline. The crux of the week, for me at least, was the Dobie and Garrett-Petts readings and their attempts at describing the idiosyncrasies of the literary scholarship. While Dobie was exclusively about English scholarship, Garrett-Petts seems as though it can be applied to academic literature as a whole.
Dobie gives an in depth survey of what has made up literary analysis for the past few hundred years, with the bullet points being Genre analysis, Biographical analysis, and looking at it in the context of a writer’s body of work. This article is helpful in giving the class a point of reference and vocabulary for what many of us more than likely already knew. We can now talk about these types of scholarship in the way that Garrett-Petts suggests we do. Petts’ article focused on what it means to write in an academic setting; seemingly focusing on the idea that one must learn the academic jargon for whatever field you are interested in. In order to be taken seriously in the scholar system, you must be able to understand the conventions. While it might seem at first that these conventions have no purpose other than to box out those who aren’t part of the system, it is-at least according to Garret-Petts- something that allows for a sustainable discourse. Every field has its own lexicon and conventions: from sports analysis, to microeconomics, to the explication of a poem; each draws on the wealth of scholarship done before it, and the technical jargon which provides its members a toolbox of handy shortcut terms, in order to trying and understand.
“In the classroom, history and biography are certainly alive and well, often serving as the basis of lectures and writing assignments–even providing the organizing principle of many survey courses. Part of their appeal for teachers and students is that they furnish background against which a text can be more readily understood” (Dobie 19). This quotation from the text struck me as completely related to our class discussion earlier this week. Professor Seaman asked a question pertaining to how Dobie’s methods are beneficial or detrimental to teachers and students in her first review of the week, so I found it quite fitting to utilize this quotation.
I agree with Dobie completely in the fact that some sort of background information is necessary to fully understand a text or work of literature. Though there is some discussion about taking a text for what it’s worth without giving attention to the historical or cultural events, I believe that these elements are, in fact, crucial to the complete knowledge and comprehension of a piece of literature. Therefore, in the classroom environment, both students and teacher alike benefit from learning historical and biographical information. In my Romanticism class, we always go over the lives and historical elements from each individual poet; consequently, I am more able to understand where he/she is coming from as well as see certain underlying meanings that might not have presented themselves previously. Without reading a little background information, I would especially have been lost in a poem titled “Eighteen Hundred and Eleven”. My point is, learning about the historical, cultural, and personal elements that go into a work of literature is crucial for complete comprehension. Teachers benefit from this knowledge because thier students are more informed and can provide a better class discussion–not to mention they are most likely more attentive in class if a particular author’s background was interesting. Students mainly benefit from seeing a certain perspective on a story, poem, etc., not to mention they are more included in the structure of the class.