Friday, April 29, 2011

The Point of Using Theory

“What seems odd about Hirsch’s formulation is the transition from definition to method. He begins by defining textual meaning as the author’s intended meaning and then suggests that the best way to find textual meaning is to look for authorial intention. But if meaning and intended meaning are already the same, it’s hard to see how looking for one provides an objective method---or any sort of method---for looking for the other; looking for one is just looking for the other.”

Knapp, Stephen, and Walter B. Michaels. "Against Theory." Critical Inquiry. Vol. 8. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1982. 723-42. Print. Critical Inquiry

I would have to agree that Hirsch’s formulation is odd. If textual meaning was only what the author meant for it to be, there would be no point in using theory. The reason readers as well as scholars engage in a text are to make meaning of it for themselves. This is what makes literary works art, because there is no set meaning and they are open for interoperation. If we should always look for authorial intention and reconstruct our theory around that our reading of the text is shaped, therefore leaving very room for interpretation which is something that should be open. It also makes using theory pointless because if we know what the author means and that is all a text is supposed to mean then there is no point in making an interpretation of a text. In addition to this, we do not always know what the author’s intended meaning of a text is; therefore when using theory we should ignore authorial intention and not even explore it.

No comments:

Post a Comment