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Monday, June 09, 2008

Literary theory Class 1 for FEP

Today I discussed three concepts - literature, theory and criticism.

I have not yet critically engaged with your explanations of these concepts. I must say it was a stimulating class for me, despite the fact that some of you said you were lost and some wondered at this pace whether we would complete our syllabus. All reactions are welcome and encouraging.

Some of the additional questions that emerged were the difference between theory and conjuncture; Do assumptions make theory or assumptions backed by facts do? Going back to radical doubt.

We also engaged with the words like creativity and imagination.

The discussion also steered towards philosophy of science and Karl Popper’s notion of science.

Some names dropped were: Raymond Williams, Jean Baudrillard, Descartes, Kant, Derrida, Plato.

Other concepts that were dropped: Postmodernism, post structuralism, structuralism, cultural studies. hyperreality, postmodernism

Please do comment on what made you ‘get lost’. Was it information overload or complete lack of exposure to theoretical terrain? Feel free to share all your views. By the way look forward to my next class which will be differently conducted. After which I want you do a comparative study of both the classes.

Have a nice time till you see me again.


Anil Pinto said...

Following is the email discussion that ensued between Surekha and me - a fallout of the class. I am posting it with her permission:

Surekha: u were talkin abt ideas n how it has been borrowed from somewhere, n that they r not original. i cannot bring myself to agree completely, mayb coz i dont understand it fully.
this is an exmaple i can think of right now. i was thinkin of the caste system in india a few years ago. n i somehow concluded that caste system was actually categorising accordin to one's occupation, but with time it got tranformed and the categorisation became based on birth. u know what i mean. im stuck here. i cannot go beyond thinkin tht this idea has been borrowed. coz i di dnot read it up, nor was i told abt it by somebody.
can u explain ur point with regard to this one so that i know what u mean?

Anil: HI Su
Reg the film thing - well i am trying to be recluse this year. But will intiate it with my friends and ask them to continue.

Reg your example, This is one of the most popular assumption among the upper castes. I have been hearing this at least since 1996, if my memory serves me well. Although i have not come across such a notion in print but have heard it from all new age gurus of whose session i have attended since. A lot of my friends belonging to the so called forward communities also share similar ideas in private conversation.

But how do we know that varna was the precursor of caste? or for that matter how do we know that caste even existed two thousand years ago or even thousand years ago across india. I have sth interesting to share here, but will withhold it for some time.

in saying that you have not come across the idea so far and its your concept has a fundamental assumption that you remember all the messages, information that you consciously and unconsicuoly all the time. I bet you will not be able to reproduce my lecture or even points even 50% today. after a wee may be less than 10%.

There is also sth called the milieu we share which has the ideas floating and we interact with it both consciously and unconsciously. This is another way of looking at your understanding.

Surekaha: but dont we have enuf proof tht caste system existed? dont we have scriptures of it? in vedas?
curious to know the basis of ur question...

richaa said...

mr pinto , its really nice of you to sum up it for those who were lost , including me . though the discussion was extensive i guess i got lost because i didn't know what exactly we were looking for , probably something like the frame work was missing.the focus of discussion was very much clear but i guess not the discussion for each of those topics.

Anil Pinto said...

Thanks Richaa

Madhuvanthi said...

This was really useful. I wasnt able to attend this class and it helps to know what was done so that I have SOME idea of what's going on in the next class.

If you could put up a post for every class with the concepts you dealt with in each, so that we don't miss out on anything important, that'd be really helpful too.

Your enthusiasm is appreciated sir! :)

Muddled Mind said...

I got lost when the question about conjecture and theory was raised...still need a definition for I understand your method, sir, we're not really looking for concrete answers but acceptable opinions which could possibly get us marks?

Anil Pinto said...

Thanks for that input. The class was primarily meant to tease out ideas from you and build on them. I have not yet spoken about these concepts. That will happen as we discuss the essay. By the way acceptable opinions unfortunately have no place/do not help you get marks in this paper - only concrete attempts to answer or engage with the questions raised.

Bleh said...

Sir, I was reading the essay and the author says that "...Superman comics and Mills and Book novels are fictional, but not generally regarded as literature, and certainly not as Literature." Is the latter a more visible form? Like the conventional literary canon that everyone knows about and literature being the written work that isn't very popular? Essentially the difference between literature and Literature. - Nehal.

Anil Pinto said...

Nehal, the essay is about the making of the discipline - Literature and the inherent politics involved in doing so which is problematic. th canon also comes into place in the 20th century.

Bleh said...

So what is the difference between literature and Literature, if the author places so much emphasis on both?

Anil Pinto said...

will take up in the class