Get out Paper for notes Deconstruction Literary Theory Literary theory • Remember – it is a “lens” through which we look at literature • Takes us away from the basic “high school” ways of analyzing literature –Theme, Setting, Symbolism –Character motivation, Plot, etc. DECONSTRUCTION • Invites us to “unravel” the constructs around us and to re-examine appearance and reality • Seeks to show that a literary work is selfcontradictory • In high school we teach that meanings are “fixed” there is an “answer” or meaning behind works of art. So how does this explain that people have different interpretations of what art is? • Most high school teachers would never teach this form of analysis WHAT???? Deconstructionists are critics who probe beneath the finished surface of a story. Having been written by a human being with unresolved conflicts and contradictory emotions, a story may disguise rather than reveal the underlying anxieties or perplexities of the author. The story may have one meaning for the ordinary unsophisticated reader and another for the reader who responds to the subsurface ironies. Everyday Deconstruction • Your lives as teenagers are chaotic • You naturally, every day, try to uncover oppositions and meanings in things • Your minds are not rigidly set upon fixed meanings • You accept ambiguity because you are not often given the whole truth • You are transitioning from childhood to adulthood and are constructing your own identity If you have ever listened to someone explain a book, a movie or any work of art (poetry, painting – even a magazine article) and you wanted to interrupt and say, “But I saw something that contradicts what you are saying.” then you have practiced deconstruction. Write this down! Deconstruction • Focuses on contradictions in art • Unravels binaries – shows they are unstable • Explores unintended meanings in metaphors • Explores instabilities in language Dismantling binaries • In western culture, we think of things in dualistic terms – oppositions – Rich and poor – Man and woman – Sun and moon – Day and night – Masculine and feminine – Life and Death Dismantling binaries The French philosopher Jacques Derrida is the “father of deconstruction.” He came up with the term “deconstruction”. He states that because western culture understands through binaries, that we also naturally place one term over the other in a hierarchy. Therefore one term is “privileged” over the other. Let’s look at the list again… Dismantling Binaries – – – – – – Rich and poor Sun and moon Day and night Masculine and feminine Reason and emotion Life and death – The positive or privileged term is usually, but not always first – it is the standard that all else is compared to – it is the positive concept, while all else is negative. One word is always privileged over the other. Remember the “To Be or Not to Be” speech? Dismantling binaries • In other cultures, philosophy is more pluralistic • Everything contains shades of masculine, feminine, the sun and moon are acknowledged to be in the sky together at the same time, there is no set right and wrong – it changes with the situation Dismantling binaries Deconstruction seeks to take apart this binary thinking and prove it is false, that texts are more like eastern philosophy – containing shades of gray. One of the first things you do when deconstructing a text is look for the binaries that the author sets up. Then look for ways that author turns these binaries “upside down.” Prove that one binary is not better than another or that both concepts are necessary for the other’s existence. You can’t just reverse the binaries because deconstruction is after bigger game, it "deconstructs" the underlying hierarchy set up in binaries. Deconstruction doesn't simply reverse the opposition, nor does it destroy it. Instead it demonstrates its inherent instability. It takes it apart from within, and without putting some new, more stable opposition in its place. The Pooh movies are better than the books (reverses the usual assumption that the book is better & more original than the movie). Our sense of Pooh books is derived from the movies, The Joker is cooler than Batman (reverses notion of the hero). Batman is a special kind of villain called a vigilante Women are smarter than men (reverses chauvinistic "common knowledge"). Men's sense of their intelligence is dependent on a belief that women are bimbos Native Americans are more heroic than cowboys (reverses the Western). "Cowboy heroism" cannot exist without "bad Indians." Exploring Metaphors • Another tool for deconstructing art is to look at any metaphors and figures of speech present. • Identify their intended meaning • Identify any unintended meanings Practice with Metaphors Love is a rose Intended meaning is…. Unintended meaning is… You are the sunshine of my life Intended is… Unintended is…. The Instability of Language The meanings we receive through language are not fixed. If you say to a group of people, “I have a nice car.” The sentence will conjure different things in each person’s mind, due to each person’s history, background and experiences. It is also to understand the context in which the statement is written and made. Steps for Deconstruction Write these steps down in your flip book 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Upon first reading, write a brief summary of what MOST people would say about the work. Identify binaries in a chart Identify metaphors (intended and unintended meanings) Look for any words that might have two meanings Look for contradictions (does something not make sense?) Then write about how the work shakes these things up! Let’s try it…… Death be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so, For those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me. From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery. Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men And dost with poison, war and sickness dwell, And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well, And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; death thou shalt die John Donne – Renaissance poet Level 2 I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company: I gazed---and gazed---but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought: For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils. William Wordsworth- RomanticPoet Level 1 The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy; But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy. My Papa's Waltz We romped until the pans Slid from the kitchen shelf; My mother's countenance Could not unfrown itself. by Theodore Roethke The hand that held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle; At every step you missed My right ear scraped a buckle. You beat time on my head With a palm caked hard by dirt, Then waltzed me off to bed Still clinging to your shirt. Level 2 Ode to My Socks by Pablo Neruda (translated by Robert Bly) Mara Mori brought me a pair of socks which she knitted herself with her sheepherder's hands, two socks as soft as rabbits. I slipped my feet into them as if they were two cases knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin, Violent socks, my feet were two fish made of wool, two long sharks sea blue, shot through by one golden thread, two immense blackbirds, two cannons, my feet were honored in this way by these heavenly socks. They were so handsome for the first time my feet seemed to me unacceptable like two decrepit firemen, firemen unworthy of that woven fire, of those glowing socks. Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation to save them somewhere as schoolboys keep fireflies, as learned men collect sacred texts, I resisted the mad impulse to put them in a golden cage and each day give them birdseed and pieces of pink melon. Like explorers in the jungle who hand over the very rare green deer to the spit and eat it with remorse, I stretched out my feet and pulled on the magnificent socks and then my shoes. The moral of my ode is this: beauty is twice beauty and what is good is doubly good when it is a matter of two socks made of wool in winter. Level 2 The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Level 3 Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art By John Keats Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art-Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night And watching, with eternal lids apart, Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite, The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure ablution round earth's human shores, Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask Of snow upon the mountains and the moors-No--yet still steadfast, still unchangeable, Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast, To feel for ever its soft fall and swell, Awake for ever in a sweet unrest, Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath, And so live ever--or else swoon to death. Level 3 A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal By William Wordsworth A slumber did my spirit seal I had no human fears: She seemed a thing that could not feel The touch of earthly years. No motion has she now, no force; She neither hears nor sees; Rolled round in earth's diurnal course, With rocks, and stones, and trees. SONNET 130 – William Shakespeare My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips' red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. I have seen roses damask'd, red and white ,But no such roses see I in her cheeks; And in some perfumes is there more delight Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. I love to hear her speak, yet well I know That music hath a far more pleasing sound; I grant I never saw a goddess go; My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground: And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare. Level 2 SONNET 18 Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer's lease hath all too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd; But thy eternal summer shall not fade Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou growest: So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this and this gives life to thee. Level 2 Steps for Deconstruction Group Activity • In groups of four, choose a role: – Binary finder – creates a lists of oppositions (binaries) that exist in the poem – Metaphor Magnet – Writes down at least one metaphor and its intended and unintended meaning – Word Doubler – find words that might have TWO meanings – write down the words and their dual meanings – Contradiction Catcher – Writes a sentence describing any contradictions in the poem. You can use this sentence: • I think the author is trying to say____________________________; but it doesn’t work it falls apart because what the author seems to be really saying is _____________________________________. One person read the poem out loud to everyone – listen carefully to how it SOUNDS. Divide your poster into four equal squares – like a BIG Tic Tac Toe grid. Each person puts their info in one of the boxes. Then as a group, write a small paragraph which deconstructs the poem. Cut it out and then staple the paragraph to the front of the poster. Write a paragraph and cut it out – staple it to the front corner of the poster. PUT YOUR NAMES ON THE FRONT OF THE POSTER!!!!