How is literary criticism a battlefield?How is literary criticism a battlefield?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a fairly interesting comparison.  If one takes literary criticism to its natural end, it might resemble a battlefield, as the different armies (theories) fight for control over a particular territory (understanding of a particular work.)  These different forces do battle and might be poised against one another because of their different philosophical premises. In some cases, accepting one premise automatically means rejection of another.   If one is reading literary criticism in the mindset of presenting singular notions of the good, then it might be seen as a type of battlefield, or war.  Another approach might be to see literary criticism as a different metaphorical expression of truth and within these different valences of the exploration of truth, one is able to accept aspects of one idea and components of another.  Perhaps, this vision sees literary criticism as more of a UN Peacekeeping force that is forged on the premise of coalition and cooperation.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What an intriguing extension of the metaphor by akannan! 

To continue examining this metaphor, opposing sides on a battlefield differ in ideologies, certainly.  But, the difference is much like that of the generals who look at the battlefield through their telescopes or from atop one hill or another: perspective.  Perspective can feel like reality, and one critic may feel certain his/her interpretation of literature has verity, while another feels differently.

Yet, this is the wonderful beauty of literature: It is open to interpretation.  How dull it is knowing that there is only one "answer" at times (especially if the arrival at that answer is not challenging).

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Literary criticism is a battlefield, because there are so many theories out there and people fight incessantly over these theories. For example, new critics fight structuralists, and structuralists fight reader response people and so on. Academics is not the serene place that people might expect. Scholars spend their lives over theories and you can be assured that there is a lot of passionate discussion going on , that is, fighting going on. Partially this is due to some big egos, but in the end academics is like any other field. Hence, there will be fighting, and people drawing sides.

amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A bit away from the notions of truth and good, I thought of comparing literary criticism to a battlefield not in terms of sides but in terms of styles and art-forms. Each soldier takes on a different style of fighting corresponding to a different kind of theory. Some use hybrid styles. Marxists argue over which style works best. Feminists might do the same, then decide to unite for strategic reasons. The battle is to see whose fighting style is the most rigorous, most effective: which offers the most to its agenda and to literature. Battle = analysis.

kgem | Student

becuase u have different readers with different mintalities/interests/thoughts/moods/levels/backgrounds..etc

plus each literary theory has its own criticism, and as human beings we don't really again on one thing so imagine how that would be in literature!!


hope this help>> im taking a criticism class right now so :) good luck with ur question;)


i posted a question about a topic for research paper, u might help me with it if u don't mind ;)