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  1. #1
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Default What is the point of literary analysis?

    This may seem like an academic topic but it seems more philosophical to me.

    Seriously, what is the point? Why are we analyzing the writer's intent when we cannot know? What's the point of trying to psychoanalyze a writer and trying to figure out what they 'really meant' when they didn't know themselves? How many writers deeply analyze their own writing as much as students in school are forced to? Does analysis of a piece kill it, like how explaining a good joke does?

    Discuss.
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  2. #2
    triple nerd score poppy's Avatar
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    I don't think that analyzing literature gives us much insight into what the author thinks, but it can give us a lot of insight into how we think as individuals. Of course, literary analysis in schools isn't practiced that way, it's practiced as if there is a definite meaning and you have to find evidence to support your guess at what the author's point was. But ultimately what the author was saying really isn't that important.
    "There's no need to be embarrassed about it, Mr. Spock. It happens to the birds and the bees!"

  3. #3
    veteran attention whore Jeffster's Avatar
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    To give high school/college English teachers jobs.
    Jeffster Illustrates the Artisan Temperament <---- click here

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  4. #4
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffster View Post
    To give high school/college English teachers jobs.
    OH MY GOD I KNEW IT
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  5. #5
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    I think the point of reading/dissecting any great piece of literature is to learn more about ourselves as human beings. The more analysis a piece can endure- the more truth there is to be found about human nature.
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

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  6. #6
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    It's kind of like the grown-up version of 'playing pretend'. Kids play pretend with each other all the time to sort of 'practice' being human with each other. Adults use literature to do this in their head.

    I think. That's my theory anyway.
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

    5w4 sx/sp Johari / Nohari

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    Shaman BlackCat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffster View Post
    To give high school/college English teachers jobs.
    Yep.
    () 9w8-3w4-7w6 tritype.

    sCueI (primary Inquisition)

  8. #8
    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    I think the point of reading/dissecting any great piece of literature is to learn more about ourselves as human beings. The more analysis a piece can endure- the more truth there is to be found about human nature.
    Absolutely.

  9. #9
    Senior Member professor goodstain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    I think the point of reading/dissecting any great piece of literature is to learn more about ourselves as human beings. The more analysis a piece can endure- the more truth there is to be found about human nature.
    +...i guess 4 and climbing
    everyone uses every function about evenly. take NE for example. if there are those who don't use it much, then why are there such massive amounts of people constantly flowing through Wallmart with 20 items or less?

  10. #10
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Simple. When a writer creates something, they no longer truly "own" what they've created, regardless of what copyright lawyers may want you to believe. It takes on a life of it's own, and has the meaning that people tend to assign and read into it... independently of the author. It's likely that even if what the audience senses is correct, it would be on such an unconscious level that the author would be unaware of their own intentions!

    What a person is really asking when they say, "analyze the author's intent," is, "if you had written this, and you had lived under similar circumstances as the author, why do you imagine YOU would have written it, and what do you think your motivations would have been?" It's an exercise in empathy, not logic.

    I find it particularly interesting, because I've actually spent a lot of time using and examining things like computer programs, art, and writing, trying to get into the heads of the people who created them and understand what kind of people they were. I mostly did this because I was so mistrustful of what people say about themselves directly, that I felt that I needed to look at the things they made as a way of getting access to a level of them behind what they project, that they can't hide or mask quite as easily.

    In other words... you can't know an author's motivations, but constantly attempting to guess what they might have been can help you develop better empathy and intuition about what people's motives might be in general. I do know that eventually, the more books, programs, or pieces of art I analyzed, the more "on-target" my analyses tended to become. If it's possible to create something in a specific way, it's also possible to take something apart and figure out how it was constructed, and get a vague clue as to WHY it was constructed.

    It's like archeology. We dig up old buildings, but the people who built them are gone... we don't KNOW why they built them, but we develop a sense of human nature that gives us an ability to take an educated guess. The same kind of sense applies to literature, I suppose.

    It's about learning how to think in terms of a "good answer" or a "meaningful answer" rather than "right/wrong answer."

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