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Stanley fish is there a text in this class essay

  1. Aaron, with whom he had a daughter; Fish and Aaron divorced in 1980. Additional Information In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content.
  2. He has also critiqued the work of his own colleagues, questioning the tendency of academics in English literature to politicize their writings.
  3. He comes back to the "is there a text in this class? He attended graduate school at Yale, earning his Ph.

This is a collection of essays on literary theory by literary critic Stanley Fish. The book is interesting throughout, but of particular interest is how it is organized. Fish states, right from the introduction, that the perspective from which the bulk of the essays was written is wrong. Fish began his journey into literary theory as a reader-response theorist.

That is, he believed that there is no objective text, but the The subtitle of this book ought to be "Stanley Fish Deconstructs Himself".

Is There a Text in This Class?

That is, he believed that there is no objective text, but the text is created through the experience of reading. He then made several moves to sidestep the radical implications of this theory; drawing on psychology and Chomsky's universal grammar to try and thread the needle between saying there is one strictly correct reading, and there are no correct readings. In the introduction to the book, Fish says that this move implicitly reintroduced the text as the objective factor; in creating a stable, if flexible, reading experience, he was all but recreating the notion of a stable text.

So any time he advanced arguments which effectively undermined the partisans of stable texts, he also undermined his own position. The introduction fleshes out not only his mistakes, but how they led him to the conclusion ultimately embraced in the last quarter to a third of the book.

In a way readers create texts, but it is more accurate to say that communities create the conditions for creating texts---and yet more accurate to say that communities create both readers and texts.

I will not here delve into the subtleties of this argument, which is well worth the price of admission, but Fish advances it masterfully. The deconstruction of his journey in the introduction is followed by opening statements at the beginning of each essay, talking about the circumstances, strengths, and fatal flaws of what you are about to read.

This created a useful tension for me---I could see problems straightaway, but I wasn't sure if I was seeing them because they were obvious or because Fish had given them away from the start.

  1. Fish's first teaching job was at the University of California at Berkeley, where he received incremental promotions from the position of instructor, beginning in 1962, to that of professor of English in 1969. If you wanted to dip your toes into literary theory, or have ever wondered about the nature of meaning, you could do worse than starting here.
  2. In these writings, as in a number of articles, Jameson produces Marxist readings which are in the tradition set by Marx and Engels as in their analyses of Eugene Sue's Mysteries ofParis or their hints about Balzac , but he clearly benefits from the development of both Marxist theory and theories of narrative since their day. Thus, while Fish shows a large concern with the reader's active role in interpretation, rejecting the notion of a determinate meaning located in the text itself, he does not discuss Derrida, never mentions Jauss, and has little to say about Iser; evidently, he has made a decision that, as he sees the logic ofthose problems , these well-known figures have little to contribute to his analysis.
  3. Aaron, with whom he had a daughter; Fish and Aaron divorced in 1980. The professor learns that the student previously took a class with Fish, turning her to "one of his victims" in suggesting that the interpretation of a text is open and indeterminate.
  4. During this period, he married his second wife, Jane Parry Tompkins, also a professor, in 1982.
  5. His first book, John Skelton's Poetry, which grew out of his doctoral thesis, takes a radical perspective in interpreting Skelton's work. During this period, he married his second wife, Jane Parry Tompkins, also a professor, in 1982.

Progressing through the book feels much like watching someone work out a problem by sketching solutions again and again. The reader-response section shifts subtly as you go along, in response to criticisms he received at the time.

He also includes an interesting discussion of Speech Act Theory, which is an excellent essay in its own right. In general I felt the pleasure of seeing a clearly intellectually curious person attending to their own growth, and owning the mistakes made along the way.

Is There a Text in This Class?: The Authority of Interpretive Communities

It does not hurt that Fish is an excellent stylist, bringing wit and bravado into the dry subject of literary theory. And once you have done the work of following through his reader-response phase, you can more plainly see how interpretive communities sweep away a lot of conceptual problems. Of course, they also create problems of their own---but the structure of the book leads me to believe that that is exactly what he wanted you to see.

If you wanted to dip your toes into literary theory, or have ever wondered about the nature of meaning, you could do worse than starting here. That's really all I have to say about that for now.