21 feb. 2006

Looking for some novel angle that hasn't been covered yet, trying to force some new reading of a canonical text, can be tiresome. On the other hand, sometimes we can see something afresh. Why did criticism of WCW always seem so dull to me? All those MLA sessions on Williams and .... Williams and Medicine, Williams and Puerto Rico, Williams and... It seemed as though they couldn't see Williams himself. Or else the implication was that they had to go look for something new to say about him. That would never happen in the Ron Padgett Society.

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A few years ago I noticed in the Graduate students here that, while they wanted to do Cultural Studies with its contextualization, they were still brainwashed New Critics and didn't want to let in any biographical information about the author. They were textual purists on one level, and impurists on another. It's true that biographical criticism is usually wretched. It's not that I'm incurious about biographies of writers, but that the facts of a biography almost never have explanatory power in the way biographers think. On the other hand, if you are going to let in all sorts of contexual information, then prohibiting the biographical and only the biographical seems inconsistent.

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A student in my class made the equation free verse = no rhythm. I almost flipped out. If even Jim Rome's radio show has a rhythm, why shouldn't a poem by Vallejo?