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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What are Knapp and Michaels talking about?

I have to agree with Eric on this. In Knapp and Michaels’ Against Theory I understand the concept of going against theory, but the way they presented and argued their case is hard to understand. In the piece there is a reference squiggles in the sand that spell out actual words that make up something that resembles a stanza. The authors make the claim that if there is no author then these words are reduced to mere squiggles that resemble words. I have to say that this is not clear to me. Knapp and Michaels make the claim that: “The recognition that what a text means and what its author intends it to mean are identical should entail the further recognition that any appeal from one to the other is useless” (Knapp and Micheals 725). This is to say that if there are in fact squiggles in the sand that are actual words but there is no known author to claim them then the words are not words at all, just lines. If this is the case, what if I was to come upon a book with that contained a great story but the story had no author, is then not a great story or a book? The arguments made by Knapp and Michaels have many flaws and their point seems to lack any backbone. At the end of the day I still believe that theory is useful in understanding a text.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your overall point, Dominique, but what Knapp and Michaels are talking about with the 'beach poem' is that when you read something like that, you automatically imagine it as being written by somebody. In your example of the book without a known author, their point would be that you still think there is an author--you just don't know who that author is. You know that the author meant something when he or she was writing that book. Beyond that single point, however, there's really nothing more to their argument.