Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Is There A Problem With Feeling? Wimsatt and Beardsley

This article by Wimsatt and Beardsley covers the theory of the "affective fallacy". This New Criticism themed idea states that emotion should be severed when discussing and analyzing literature.  They believe that a text cannot be accurately analyzed with the force of emotion behind it. While I can see the point that it is difficult to stay rational and impartial while analyzing a text fueled by emotion, I can also see the benefit of embracing our feelings and passions when discussing and analyzing a text. Whims and Beardsley use a quote from Hegel stating that, "feelings remain purely subjective affections of myself, in which concrete matter vanishes, as though narrowed into a circle of the upmost abstraction". I am finding myself having a difficult time creating an argument for the necessity of emotion when this article is filled with hard and narrow points. To counter the argument, I would have to produce some inkling of facts supporting my statements. The problem with emotions is that they cannot be easily explained or quantified. 
I am thinking more in terms of emotion is what drives passion, and passion is what opens our senses to thinking more broadly and openly about a text. Passion can sidetrack the reader, but it can also be the driving force behind a great response or paper. Emotions are what create quality work, in my opinion of course. The thing I drew above is "Jenny the Teenage Robot" from the TV show on nickelodeon. I could not think of much else to lightly describe my feelings about not feeling while reading a text. There really is no amazing, deep meaning to this piece. It is obvious that the robot is reading a book, which is what I think it would feel like trying to read without any feelings. Sorta like a robot. 
Some questions I have that I would be interested in discussing would have to be, what is everyone else thinking about this theory? How popular is this theory? Can we effectively read a text with emotion? What stops us from reading a text and writing subjective comments about the text? Is subjectivity and opinion such a bad thing?

1 comment:

  1. Nicely done! I like the question that you ask at the end about "effective" reading. Such an important thing to ask: what IS effective reading? How would the New Critics define it, and how is that similar or different from your own definition, or from the dominant definition in the field at this moment?