Saturday, October 30, 2004

Censorship: A Slippery Slope

The other week in class we had a discussion on the issue of censorship. obviously this is a highly controversial subject because the value of artistic integrity can (and often does) conflict with a societies standards. Does this make sense? At what cost does a culture sacrifice artistic value in order to protect their moral code?

i have mixed feelings about the issue of censorship. of course there is material in mainstream media today that is inappropriate for children. The most obvious place to look for this kind of contraversial is in music and on TV. is a rapper making music about drug use and gang wars on the streets singing to elementry school children in suburban communities? probably not. But do these very same children have a right to hear what musical artists have to say? Definately this is a debate - able answer. Personally, i think kids should be able to listen to whatever music they want, but when they take the message the wrong way somebody needs to step in and do something to correct these delusioned interpretations of art.

Censorship is present in America every day. Radio stations censor music with contraversial or profane lyrics. News editors censor the material they publish in order to protect the image of their publisher. Television stations employ people to sit at a buzzer waiting to BLEEP out anything thats inappropriate.

But Think About This:

  • do you support the censorship of public displays of sexuality? (Janet Jackson going topless during the Super Bowl Halftime show)

  • if you do, how do you feel about the Bush Administration censoring thirty-some-pages( yep, 30) from the United Nations report on WMD's in Iraq before it was released to the public?
Who knows? maybe someone working for the government will censor this journal entry...

Monday, October 18, 2004

Works by Tsvetan Todorov

Tsvetan Todorov has published multiple books ranging in subject from literary criticism and theory to analysis of Nazi concentration camps and the genocide of the Mayan Indians. Here is a list of some of his works:


  • Littérature et signification (Paris: Larousse, 1967; revised, 1968).
  • Grammaire du Décaméron, Approaches to Semiotics, no. 3 (The Hague: Mouton, 1969).
  • Introduction à la littérature fantastique (Paris: Seuil, 1970); translated by Richard Howard as The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre (Cleveland & London: Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1973).
  • Poétique de la prose (Paris: Seuil, 1971); translation by Howard as The Poetics of Prose, foreword by Jonathan Culler (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1977; Oxford: Blackwell, 1977).
  • Dictionnaire encyclopédique des sciences du langage, by Todorov and Oswald Ducrot (Paris: Seuil, 1972); translated by Catherine Porter as Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Sciences of Language (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979; Oxford: Blackwell, 1981).
  • Poétique (Paris: Seuil, 1973); translated by Howard as Introduction to Poetics, introduction by Peter Brooks, Theory and History of Literature, volume 1 (Brighton, U.K.: Harvester Press, 1981; Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1981).
  • Théories du symbole (Paris: Seuil, 1977); translated by Porter as Theories of the Symbol (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1982; Oxford: Blackwell, 1982).
    Symbolisme et interprétation (Paris: Seuil, 1978); translated by Porter as Symbolism and Interpretation (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1982; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983).
  • Les Genres du discours (Paris: Seuil, 1978); translated by Porter as Genres in Discourse (Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990).
  • Sémantiques de la poésie (Paris: Seuil, 1979).
  • Mikhail Bakhtine: Le principe dialogique (Paris: Seuil, 1981); translated by Wlad Godzich as Mikhail Bakhtin: The Dialogical Principal, Theory and History of Literature, volume 13 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984; Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984).
  • La Conquête de l'Amérique: La question de l'autre (Paris: Seuil, 1982); translated by Howard as The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other (New York: Harper & Row, 1984).
  • The Semiotic Conquest of America, translated by Nancy Huston, The Andrew W. Mellon Lectures (New Orleans: Graduate School of Tulane University, 1982).
  • Critique de la critique: Un roman d'apprentissage, Collection Poétique, no. 38 (Paris: Seuil, 1984); translated by Porter as Literature and Its Theorists: A Personal View of Twentueth-Century Criticism (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1987; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1988).
  • Frêle bonheur: Essai sur Rousseau (Paris: Hachette, 1985); translated by John T. Scott and Robert D. Zaretsky as Frail Happiness: An Essay on Rousseau (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001).
  • The Deflection of the Enlightenment (Stanford: Stanford Humanities Center, 1989).
    Nous et les autres: La réflexion française sur la diversité humaine (Paris: Seuil, 1989); translated by Porter as On Human Diversity: Nationalism, Racism, and Exoticism in French Thought (Cambridge, Mass. & London: Harvard University Press, 1993).
  • Face à l'extrême (Paris: Seuil, 1991); translated by Arthur Denner and Abigail Pollak as Facing the Extreme: Moral Life in the Concentration Camps (New York: Holt, 1996; London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999).
  • Les Morales de l'histoire (Paris: Grasset, 1991); translated by Alyson Waters as The Morals of History (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995).
  • Eloge du quotidien: Essai sur la peinture hollandaise du XVIIe siècle (Paris: Biro, 1993).
    Une tragédie française: Eté 1944, scènes de guerre civile (Paris: Seuil, 1994); translated by Mary Byrd Kelly as A French Tragedy: Scenes of Civil War, Summer 1944, edited and annotated by Richard J. Golsan (Hanover, N.H. & London: University Press of New England: 1996).
  • Les Abus de la mémoire (Paris: Arléa, 1995); translated by Mei Lin Chang as "The Abuses of Memory," Common Knowledge, 5 (Spring 1996): 6-26.
  • La Vie commune: Essai d'une anthropologie générale (Paris: Seuil, 1995); translated by Katherine Golsan and Lucy Golsan as Life in Common: An Essay in General Anthropology, with a new afterword by Todorov (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001).
  • Guerre et paix sous l'Occupation: Témoignages recueillis au centre de la France, by Todorov and Annick Jacquet (Paris: Arléa, 1996).
  • L'homme dépaysé (Paris: Seuil, 1996).
  • Benjamin Constant: La passion démocratique (Paris: Hachette, 1997); translated by Alice Seberry as A Passion for Democracy: Benjamin Constant (New York: Algora, 1999).
  • Le Jardin imparfait: La pensée humaniste en France (Paris: Grasset, 1998).
  • Eloge de l'individu: Essai sur la peinture flamande de la Renaissance (Paris: Biro, 2000).
  • Mémoire du mal, tentation du bien: Enquête sur le siècle (Paris: Laffont, 2000).


  • Poétique de la prose: choix; suivi de, Nouvelles recherches sur le récit, Points: Littérature, no. 120 (Paris: Seuil, 1980)--comprises selections from Poétique de la prose and Les Genres du discours;
  • La Notion de littérature: Et autres essais Points: Littérature, no. 188 (Paris: Seuil, 1987)--comprises selections from Les Genres du discours and Poétique de la prose;

Editions in English

  • The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre, translated by Howard, foreword by Robert Scholes (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1975).
  • The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other, translated by Howard, foreword by Anthony Padgen (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999).


  • Theorie de la littérature: Textes des formalistes russes, edited and translated, with an introduction, by Todorov, preface by Roman Jakobson (Paris: Seuil, 1965).
  • Henry James, Nouvelles = Tales, translated by Louise Servicen, introduction by Todorov, Collection Bilingue Aubier-Flammarion, no. 30 (Paris: Aubier-Flammarion, 1969).
  • Recherches sémantiques, edited by Todorov (Paris: Didier/ Larousse, 1969).
  • James, Histoires de fantômes = Ghostly Tales, translated by Servicen, introduction by Todorov, Collection Bilingue Aubier-Flammarion, no. 36 (Paris: Aubier-Flammarion, 1970).
  • Vladimir Propp and Eleazar Moiseevic Meletinski, Morphologie du conte: Suivi de Les transformations des contes merveilleux, Vladimir Propp; Et de E. Mélétinski, L'etude structurale et typologique du conte, translated by Todorov, Marguerite Derrida, and Claude Kahn, Points: Sciences humaines, no. 12 (Paris: Seuil, 1970).
  • L'Enseignement de la littérature, Centre culturel de Cerisy-la-Salle, 22 au 29 juillett 1969, edited by Todorov and Serge Doubrovsky (Paris: Plon, 1971).
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, Zapiski iz podpol'â = Notes d'un souterrain, translated by Lily Denis, introduction by Todorov, Collection Bilingue Russe, no. 1 (Paris: Aubier Montaigne, 1972).
  • Jakobson, Questions de poétique, edited by Todorov and others (Paris: Seuil, 1973; revised, 1973).
  • Recherche de Proust, edited by Todorov and Gérard Genette, Collection Points: Littérature, no. 113 (Paris: Seuil, 1980).
  • French Literary Theory Today: A Reader, edited by Todorov, translated by R. Carter (Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press / Paris: Editions de la Maison des Sciences de L'Homme, 1982)--includes "French Poetics Today" and "A Complication of Text: The Illuminations," by Todorov.
  • Roland Barthes and others, Littérature et réalité, edited by Todorov and Genette, Points: Littérature, no. 142 (Paris: Seuil, 1982).
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Écrits sur l'art, edited and translated by Jean-Marie Schaeffer, introduction by Todorov, L'Esprit et les formes, no. 7 (Paris: Klincksieck, 1983).
  • Récits aztèques de la Conquête, edited by Todorov and George Baudot, translated by Baudot and Pierre Cordoba (Paris: Seuil, 1983).
  • Northrop Frye, Le Grand code, translated by Catherine Malamoud, introduction by Todorov, Collection Poétique, no. 37 (Paris: Seuil, 1984).
  • Pensée de Rousseau, edited by Todorov and Genette, Collection Points: Littérature, no. 168 (Paris: Seuil, 1984).
  • Jakobson, Russie folie poésie, edited, with an introduction, by Todorov, translated by Nancy Huston, Marc B. de Launay, and André Markowicz, Collection Poétique (Paris: Seuil, 1986).
  • Edgar Allan Poe, Nouvelles histoires extraordinaires, translated by Charles Baudelaire, preface by Todorov, Folio, no. 564 (Paris: Gallimard, 1988).
  • Alexis de Tocqueville, De la colonie en Algérie, introduction by Todorov, Historiques Politiques, no. 52 (Brussels: Editions Complexe, 1988).
  • Au nom du peuple: Témoignages sur les camps communistes, edited by Todorov, translated by Marie Vrinat (La Tour-d'Aigues: Editions de l'Aube, 1992); translated by Robert Zaretsky as Voices from the Gulag: Life and Death in Communist Bulgaria (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999).
  • Blaga Dimitrova, La mer interdite: Et autres poèmes, translated by Vera Marinova and Armand Monjo, preface by Bernard Noël, and introduction by Todorov (Paris: Editions Est-Ouest Internationales, 1994).
  • Mélanges sur l'ouvre de Paul Bénichou, edited by Todorov and Marc Fumaroli (Paris: Gallimard, 1995).
  • Benjamin Constant, Principes de politique applicables à tous les gouvernements, edited, with an introduction, by Etienne Hofmann, preface by Todorov, Collection Pluriel, no. 861 (Paris: Hachette, 1997).
  • Edward W. Said, Entre guerre et paix: Retours en Palestine-Israël, translated by Béatrice Vierne, introduction by Todorov (Paris: Arléa, 1997).
  • Said, L'Orientalisme: L'Orient créé par l'occident, translated by Catherine Malamoud and Claude Wauthier, preface by Todorov (Paris: Seuil, 1997).
  • Jean-Michel Chaumont and Hervé Pourtois, eds., Souffrance sociale et attentes de reconnaissance: Autour du travail d'Axel Honneth: Actes du colloque du 4-5 juin 1998, preface by Todorov (Louvain: Université Catholique de Louvain, 1999).
  • Benjamin Constant, De la religion considérée dans sa source, ses formes et ses développements, edited by Todorov and Hofmann (Arles: Actes Sud, 1999).
  • La fragilité du bien: Le sauvetage des Juifs bulgares, edited, with notes, by Todorov, translated by Vrinat and Irène Kristeva (Paris: Michel, 1999); translated by Arthur Denner as The Fragility of Goodness: Why Bulgaria's Jews Survived the Holocaust (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).
  • François de La Rochefoucauld, Maximes, réflexions, lettres, La Rochefoucauld; précédé de L'homme mis en scène, Tzvetan Todorov, introductory essay by Todorov, Serie Pluriel, no. 956 (Paris: Hachette, 1999).

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Tsvetan Todorov

the alternate personality assigned to me by Dr. Sexson is the structural analyst Tsvetan Todorov. Todorov is a relatively recent critic and is still alive today. his primary critical focus is the composition of the test itself, and he advocates a scientific approach to the analysis of literature.

Some important things to know about Tsvetan Todorov:

  • born in Bulgaria in 1939
  • began career in literary studies at the University of Paris in 1963
  • lectured at educational institutions in the United States such as Yale, Columbia, and the University of California at Berkely

  • NARRATOLOGY: a sophisticated analysis of the relations among a story - concieved in simple terms - and all the other elements involved in the telling of that story.
  • The PLOT of a story is created by a specific arrangement of simple clauses
  • CLAUSES are composed of basic parts of speech - nouns, verbs, and adjectives
  • The audience percieves the deliberate and organized arrangement of clauses as the finished story

here is an example of the scientific approach taken by Tsvetan Todorov to literary criticism ( found on page 2103 in the Norton Anthology):

X violates a law - Y must punish X for violating the law

X wants to avoid being punished

Y violates a law - OR - Y doesnt feel X should be punished

Y does not punish X

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Important Quote

Nature never set forth the earth in so rich tapestry as diverse poets have done, neither with pleasant rivers, fruitful trees, sweet smelling flowers, nor whatsoever else may make the too much loved earth more lovely. Her world is brazen, the poets only deliver a golden.
- Sir Philip Sidney
i thought this was a really interesting quote because it can be interpreted in many different ways. i think that i agree and disagree with this quote because of the role he assigns to poets. the unique and brilliant thing about poets is that they have the ability to capture a moment in writing. it is one thing to just simply describe an event, but a poet can make you feel like you experienced some part of that moment because you read it. Not just read about it, but through the act of reading it you are there present in that moment.
does that make sense at all? i dont know.
The way i see it, poets have a tremendous gift in their ability to capture this moment. it is no small thing to evoke emotions of joy, sadness, or fear from a person sitting in a completely neutral environment reading a text. another quote that supports this (once again embarrased that i dont know who said it) :
Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world
one thing that i question about Sidney's quote is that he seems to suggest that poets are more capable of inspiring through beauty than nature itself. now i might be wrong here, but is Sidney suggesting that poetry is more beautiful than the nature it describes? if he is, im going to have to call bull**** on that one. Compare a poem about mountains with a hike through the mountains. You can write as many pages of rhymes about mountains as you want, but it does not give you the true experience of the mountains. Until the reader of this poem actually goes and stands on top of a mountain by themselves, it is physically impossible for them to appreciate the beauty of the mountains. go outside in Bozeman MT and look in any direction. Better yet, ask anyone how they feel as they catch their breath on top of the Ridge at Bridger Bowl. i know this sounds like an extreme statement, but i dont see how someone could argue otherwise. Consider surfing: i have always wanted to try surfing in an ocean, and i am mesmerized by that human connection with nature whenever i see people surfing on television and magazines. But until i actually go do it myself, i dont think i could fully appreciate how cool it is to ride a wave.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Aristotle's Poetics : BRILLIANT!!!

Aristotle is considered one of the greatest thinkers in human history. Some of his work serves as a base for the field of literary study, and for that matter language and writing in general. Here are some of the key points he makes in his Poetics :

  • The Plot must be whole, complete in itself, and of a certain magnitude
  • Six elements of Tragedy - 3 internal and 3 external
  • internal - Plot, Character, and Theme ( mythos, ethos, dianoia)
  • external - Spectacular Presentment, Lyrical Song, and Diction

Another interesting note about Aristotle is that he was a big fan of the Oedipus tragedy by Sophoclese. i think this is cool because i read Oedipus Rex when i was in high school and i was blown away. First of all, the plot itself is horribly gruesome, with all sorts of bad things like spooky prophesies, betrayal, incest, and violence. Second, because of the plot the characters endure an enormous ammount of pain and suffering, both emotional and physical. When i read this play i could not put it down because i was fascinated by such a mesmerizing story that was so old. i guess great minds think alike!