Thursday, September 30, 2004

Irony about Sublime

So i was thinking about the lit criticism class discussion of what "Sublime" is. Besides being one of those bands that is so good you can play their album start to finish without skipping any songs, it is also a literary term that is old as Christianity. it is ironic that one aspect of Dr. Sexson's criticism class is to study the literary canon, because i would argue that "Sublime" belongs in the canon of great music. i checked out the H&H Handbook to Lit to get definition for sublime in plain english. it basically said the same things that the class discussed from Longinus "Sublime", but one important note is that noble thoughts and feelings are considered gifts of nature, while lofty figures of speech, diction, and word arrangement are produced by art.

Back to more academic discussions, i seem to have an inherently difficult time tryting to understand classical writing. it is one thing to discuss the key concepts in class, but i get lost trying to read it on its own because of the complexity of ancient language. im embarrased to admit that this is a problem for me from Homer and Plato to Sidney and Shakespeare and even modern writers such as Gertrude Stein and T.S. Eliot. Not that these people did not make monumental contributions to literature, its just i have lost a step on them going through todays educational system.

i have found one book i personally feel should be on the canon for college students is:
(drumroll please)
Harmon and Holman
A Handbook to Literature
In taking nothing but english classes for the last three semesters in a row it seems every other class sylabus i read has the statement: "The MSU Department of English requires all students to make a one time purchase of ..." the above mentioned book. this book is a great reference tool for literary terms i should have learned in high school. This book has allowed me to sound like i know what im talking about on papers and exams, and has made up for all those times in high school when i wasnt paying attention.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

What is Sublime?

"A 40 oz. to freedom is the only chance i have /
to feel good even though i feel bad"
- Bradley Nowell
Although that is a great song, i dont think that is the Sublime we have been discussing in Dr. Sexsons literary criticism class. The term "sublime" was invented by the greek philosopher Longinus in the First Century. im not sure how to describe what sublime actully is, but i think it is a term used to describe writing and literature that is above average. however, "above average" does not really do justice to something that is truly sublime. Something sublime is brilliant not only in textual form but also the affect it has on both the audience and the writer. As noted on page 135 in our textbook:
"Sublime is the echo of a noble mind"
Longinus believed that a writer or speaker could not be great throught rhetorical strategy alone, but he or she must display in addition "deep feelings, profound thoughts, and natural genius"(135). His idea of sublime was a text so brilliant and beautiful that it "uplifts the spirit of the reader, filling him or her with unexpected astonishment and pride, arousing noble thoughts, and suggesting more than words can convey"(135).
Wow. All of those big words and fancy adjectives can be a little confusing. To break it down a bit, Longinus believed that sublimity essentially came from five sources (140):
  1. power to concieve great thoughts
  2. strong and inspired emotion
  3. certain figures of thought and speech
  4. noble diction
  5. dignified and elevated word arrangement

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Questions to be answered:

Have you ever encountered a work of art ( literature, music, artwork) that changed you?

- off the top of my head, there is a somewhat inspirational song by rap artist Nas (pronounced N-aw-z) called "I Can." the chorus to the song goes:

"I know I can be what i want to be,
If i work hard at it I'll be where i want to be"

If you were stuck on a desert island, what one text would you bring and why?

- i would bring the Bible, because it has some great stories and messages about how to live life. plus reading the bible would also give me something to do besides be pissed off at being stuck on a desert island with one book.

What story or film makes you cry?

- i dont easily admit to crying alot, but for some reason whenever i watch the film RUDY i end up sobbing like a little ***** for at least twenty minutes after the end of the movie.

How does Wallace Stevens "The Idea of Order at Key West" reflect on everything important in the study of Lit. Criticism?

Links to other ENGL 300 Journals

here are some links for Dr. Sexson's Critical Theory class. Not sure how many of these links work, but i will keep adjusting or adding to them:

- Opai Basu -
- Nikole L. Didier -
- Zachary Grosfield -
- Jennifer Harris -
- Megan Helgeson -
- Jaimie Hensley -
- Dustin Hinrichs -
- Brian Johnsrud -
- Yoshie Kawano -
- Cindy Kasner -
- J.R. Logan -
- Lisa Macalister -
- Kelly Maddock -
- Nancy Nix -
- Danny Prill -
- Francoise Saurage -
- Ed Shanley -
- Mandy Simonich -
- Sarah Smith -
- Katy Sparks -
- Lindsee Tauck -
- Tristan Vick -
- Becky Ward -
- Nicole Waring -
- Matthew White -
- Kate Whitney -

ENGL 300: Critical Theory w/ Dr. Michael Sexson

this journal / web page has been designed by myself (ben coulter) for Dr. Sexson's ENGL 300: Critical Theory class here at MSU Bozeman. the above mentioned information is completely irrelevant, but a way to introduce this journal none the less.

here are some notes from class so far:

- literary criticism is the study of what we say and think about literature
- there are four essential components to literature (i think this is right, correct me if im off track):
- work / text: the actual words in writing
- creator / artist / articifer: the person who writes the text
- reader / audience / reciever: the link between the creator and his or her message
- world / universe: the cultural context of the text