Hello, I am in a particular dilemma. This semester I have been taking a Literary Theory Course and for our final paper, we should choose a literary text on which we will employ two theories. Now...

Hello, I am in a particular dilemma. This semester I have been taking a Literary Theory Course and for our final paper, we should choose a literary text on which we will employ two theories. Now the problem is we are completely free and the criticism we have studied are pre-20th century.

So among critics I have to choose two between:

Plato

Aristotle (Poetics+ Rhetorics)

Longinus

Horace

Boethius

St.Augustine (in allegorical reading)

St.Aquinas (again allegory)

Dante (literary allegory)

Pope

Dryden

Jonson

Kant

Hegel

Wilde

Baudelaire

Marx

Nietzsche

 

And for the literary text, anything is possible preferebly poetry though. As you can see many of these "criticisms" aren't really theorotical approaches to apply to begin with (not like feminism, psychoanalysis etc) and I have no idea how to go about this.

 

Anyone has any suggestion that might say, for example, I think you can use this poem to employ these two critics, perhaps use this side of it etc?

When you have unlimited choice, things are so hard. By this thursday I should at least have an idea which work I will be working on. Any help is greatly appreciated!

 

Expert Answers
noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Given the list provided in the question, much could be written (and has been written) on Plato and Aristotle. Because Aristotle studied Plato and some of Aristotle's theories in the Poetics respond to what he had encountered from Plato (especially in the Republic), it seems fitting that these two authors should be linked.

As for the text of choice, one of Homer's poems would be a fitting choice. The Iliad would probably be the best to analyze because Plato seems to have more to say about the Iliad, especially in Republic 2 and 3, than he does the Odyssey.

Aristotle has a number of comments about Homer in the Poetics. For example, in Part II of Butcher's translation, we read as follows: "Homer, for example, makes men better than they are".

In contrast, in Republic III, Plato wants the educational system of his ideal state to avoid some of Homer's less virtue-inducing passages:

"Then we will once more entreat Homer and the other poets not to depict Achilles, who is the son of a goddess, first lying on his side, then on his back, and then on his face; then starting up and sailing in a frenzy along the shores of the barren sea..." (Jowett translation).

So, in my view, I would say that reading Homer's Iliad through a Platonic and Aristotlean lens would be a "do-able" project.

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