About Criticism


Read a bit about literary criticism today. Mostly because of this Emily Ogden tweet. I know what she means, and one of the reasons I wanted to write BROWN STUDY is because I want to read more literary criticism that doesn't put me to sleep. 

That got me thinking about the term criticism and why the stuff I tend to see is either controversial (on the TL, the 'discourse') or extremely academic and stuffy, and honestly soporific. 

Started googling "lit crit + pleasure" and came across this interesting (but ultimately irrelevant) post on "Full Body Reading." Well yes, it wasn't really related to my research but, the history of Margery Kempe was pretty interesting and led me to this wiki passage:

The idea of rooting analysis in the entire self, mind and body, is appealing to me. The passage above could be updated to read:

"During the 21st century, the task of interpreting literature and philosophy through the written word was nominally restricted to credentialed academics. Because of this restriction, non-credentialed would-be critics often expressed their experience of literature differently--on the internet--especially on Twitter. "

How is it that we express our literary experiences? We tweet. We podcast. We blog. We meme. We stan. We like, subscribe, retweet, and share. We write "after" pieces, think pieces, craft essays, and analysis. Some of us write fanfic. Some create workshops. We do what the mushrooms do: take something in, break it down, and share it with others. (Mushrooms are a theme, I'm obsessed). 

But all that sharing and redistribution is a bit more than engaging the body or engaging the senses. When we share we're engaged in community building. We're adding to the literary landscape. We affirm the creator while nourishing ourselves and our peers, building community.

So why can't literary/art criticism or analysis exist with a lens towards engaging all three of these senses: mind, body, and community? I think it already does. It's in every Creatively Exposed or VS podcast, in each Luminaries workshop, every Fiyahcon, and Think in Ink. Every tweet thread analysis and zoom reading nourished has us has helped fortify our sense of community while engaging our mind and our senses. I'm sure there's some fancy theory that explains all this, I haven't come across it yet but if you've got a link, please drop it in the comments.  

I'm striving for a balance between difficulty, pleasure, and connection in BROWN STUDY. The format will mirror this goal by opening with an interactive formalistic analysis (mind), an analysis that mixes sociological, mythological, and reader response to engage the senses, followed by a Q & A with the poet (community).

TLDR: I'm excited and nervous.


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