Title

Anonymity Unmasked: Rethinking Biography in Literary Criticism

Presenter Information

Constance Shepardson

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

In the wide world of literary criticism, scholars frequently disagree on what aspects of a text are important and what aspects are not. When analyzing a piece of art, the critic must decide on one important question in particular: how much of the author’s biography should I take into consideration? While some schools of criticism aim to make blanket statements about analyzing all forms of art, I want to emphasize the importance of this question in one genre specifically, English language Gothic Literature. There are few American Gothic authors who could claim a more colorful background than Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. Also, Mr. Poe’s work has been widely accepted as archetypal examples for psychological criticism, making his work ideal for analyzing the value of author biography based criticism in Gothic Literature, given Gothic literature’s deeply psychological attributes. Using a dual reading technique, I have done a comparison reading of the short story "The Fall of the House of Usher." The dual reading includes a first reading of the story void of author information in the analysis. The second reading is a deeply biographic reading with the author’s history, personal life, and possible influence of other works from the period taken into consideration. In comparing and contrasting the two readings, as well as assessing the current scholarly dialogue on what New Critics call the “intentional fallacy,” my work aims to find a balance between debating schools of thought on the value of biography in critiquing Gothic literature.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 13th, 9:20 AM Apr 13th, 9:40 AM

Anonymity Unmasked: Rethinking Biography in Literary Criticism

UC 332

In the wide world of literary criticism, scholars frequently disagree on what aspects of a text are important and what aspects are not. When analyzing a piece of art, the critic must decide on one important question in particular: how much of the author’s biography should I take into consideration? While some schools of criticism aim to make blanket statements about analyzing all forms of art, I want to emphasize the importance of this question in one genre specifically, English language Gothic Literature. There are few American Gothic authors who could claim a more colorful background than Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. Also, Mr. Poe’s work has been widely accepted as archetypal examples for psychological criticism, making his work ideal for analyzing the value of author biography based criticism in Gothic Literature, given Gothic literature’s deeply psychological attributes. Using a dual reading technique, I have done a comparison reading of the short story "The Fall of the House of Usher." The dual reading includes a first reading of the story void of author information in the analysis. The second reading is a deeply biographic reading with the author’s history, personal life, and possible influence of other works from the period taken into consideration. In comparing and contrasting the two readings, as well as assessing the current scholarly dialogue on what New Critics call the “intentional fallacy,” my work aims to find a balance between debating schools of thought on the value of biography in critiquing Gothic literature.