Bitterly Dreary – aka Literary Theory

The Philosopher in Meditation (thought to be by Rembrandt)

The Philosopher in Meditation (thought to be by Rembrand

I found the image above when I was doing a bit of obsessive-compulsive boning up for my forthcoming final (thank the god of philosophers) subject for my MA in Creative Writing, which starts tomorrow.  It about sums up what I anticipate from the experience… incarceration in a dusty garret, with only the cobwebby thoughts of ancient eminences grises to keep me company.

I am intimidated just by the title – “Literary Theory“.  Well not intimidated so much as resentful of being forced to spend the next 3 months or so entombed in the philosophy of literature  when I’d much rather be writing.  For some reason that eludes me, this subject is mandatory to qualify for my degree.

I have no qualms with being required to study theory as opposed to practice, as to become good at something, it’s good to have a mix of both.  What I am peeved about (and here I trust no curious eye from the teaching staff at my esteemed soon to be alma mater will light upon this whinge, or I’ll get an automatic deduction of points before I even start),  is that there is absolutely no alternative to this particular subject.  If I’d wanted to study philosophy, I’d have made an appointment with a psychologist immediately, and I wouldn’t have signed on for Creative Writing.   Don’t get me wrong.  I love literature, and I’d have joyously thrown myself into 19th Century Literature, Gender & Genre, Australian Women Writers – or any number of  other subjects on offer at the Faculty, but not on offer for this degree.  No, I was informed, Literary Theory it must be and nothing less.

A brief perusal of the literature on the topic of “Bitterly Dreary” reveals a daunting sub-dictionary of buzz words and terminology, e.g. “hermeneutics”, “alienation from consciousness”, “generic integrity of discourse”, “post-structuralism”, and so on.   As well, it includes a veritable roll-call of esteemed scholars, e.g. Descartes, Hegel, Foucault, Marx, Nietschke, Freud, Ricoeur, any one of whom is enough to send cold shivers of inadequacy down my spine.

Oh well, perhaps I protest too much.  There’s no question that I’ll come out at the end of it more informed than I am now, even positively erudite on the subject.  Somehow I doubt that questions of Bitterly Dreary are ones you can confidently toss into dinner party conversation however.  At worst, I’ll suffer only a temporary alienation from consciousness, and the end is in sight.



About annegreen2013

I'm a freelance writer passionate about all things culinary and literary, especially South Australian food and wine, food writing, ethical eating, animal welfare, healthy eating, nutrition and food sustainability
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3 Responses to Bitterly Dreary – aka Literary Theory

  1. You’ll ace it Annabelle, bitterly dreary as it will be at times. Just think how well-equipped you’ll be to argue against the exclusionary antics of Foucault and Co ; )

  2. Francesca says:

    let me know when you are over it and not likely to propound on literary theory at the dinner table and there’s a dinner invitation in it for you!!

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