Round Up

  • Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel Lecture.
  • Conversational Reading’s Epiphany on how Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer critiques space (or the lack of a defined, unique space).
  • Syntax of Things makes a list of Underrated Writers.
  • Lastly, Pinky’s Paperhaus comments on After the MFA’s post about whether MFAs should take Lit Crit Class.

    On that last link . . .
    My opinion is that reading books and critiquing them is good (big news flash, eh?) but that Lit Crit, as performed by an English PHD, is very different than reading and critiquing as a writer. PHD programs are so inundated by critical theory nowadays that they very rarely read as writers – that is, they don’t read for the things that the author intends to put inside the book, and there is less and less overlap between authorial intention and critical commentary.

    After going through a MA program with a heavy dose of literary theory at New York University (but what program doesn’t rely heavily on literary theory for literary criticism?) and then transferring to an MFA at USC, I realized that the two ways of speaking were completely different. In essence, I had to re-learn how to use language (I nearly said utilize instead of use – that would be Theory-speak). I also had to re-tool how I read, and start to read as a writer looking to glean technique rather than a critic looking to trampoline off the original text and create a new one that deconstructs the original.

    So it’s really impossible to talk about Lit Crit nowadays without referencing and dealing with Literary Theory. And since literary theory is so much a part of Lit Crit, a writer is much better off sticking to an MFA rather than a PHD. A writer is also better off not doing Lit Crit classes in an MFA, unless the workshop is run by a writer rather than an academic (English PHD).

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3 Responses to Round Up

  1. Richard says:

    I got an MA in English before I got an MFA but since it was in the early 1970s, there wasn’t much, if any, theory. So it was very helpful to me as a writer.It’s one of the things that makes me happy I’m old.

  2. Nate Baird says:

    You knew Pinky used to be editor of LAist, right? Twas very different back then. You also may like L.A.BrainTerrain.Let’s see, I’ve only read Mailer’s Why Are We in Vietnam?–which I really enjoyed. Everything else has always seemed too thick to me. And I’ll have to look up Jim Crace, you’ve mentioned him before haven’t you?

  3. JohnFox says:

    No, I didn’t know that Pinky was LAist editor. Very nice. And yes, I really do like LA Brain Terrain – thanks for the link. 🙂 I don’t know if I’ve mentioned Crace before or not, but since I’m quasi-obscessed with him, there’s a strong possibility.

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