Douglas P Collins
Modern critical methodology and theory.
In 1899, Wallace Stevens published a short story in the Harvard Advocate entitled “The Revelation.” Here a young man takes a photograph of his sweetheart to be framed. Upon returning to retrieve the picture he discovers instead a framed photograph of himself. Noticed here is what a young Freud took into account—the aesthetic involves the return of desire to the self after a strategic self-alienation. The history of critical theory and literary doctrine is that of a reflection upon the framing process, what occurs in the moment of the detour, that which allows the homebound turn of desire. Adorno writes: "What guarantees the aesthetic quality of modern art? It is the scars of damage and disruption inflicted by them on the smooth surface of the immutable." The return of self-love is made possible by a violence, the timing, or the untiming of which all of critical theory is variously the study of. To be studied in this unavoidable insight will be representative texts by Schlegel, Schiller, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelly, Ruskin, Arnold, Mallarmé, Marx, Nietzsche, Wilde, Freud, Hulme, the Russian Formalists, Bahktin, Adorno, Frye and Burke.
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