Stillinger, "Fifty-nine Ways of Reading 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'"

Twentieth-century reading and criticism of Ode on a Grecian Urn began with author biography and relatively mindless appreciation of the beauties of individual pictorial details; made great progress as a result of New Critical emphasis on close reading to uncover irony, paradox, and ambiguity in the poem; gained further sophistication with advent of literary theories--Deconstruction, New Historicism, Feminism, Reader-Response criticism particular--that opened up possibilities for additional meanings poem therefore increasingly multiple, complex, even contradictory responses from its readers. result has been sanction open-endedness, admire Keats all more as genius who provided such rich materials work with, free classroom forever narrowness single-meaning interpretation laid on students by well-intentioned instructors. This essay appears _Ode a Grecian Urn: Hypercanonicity & Pedagogy_, volume _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively Romantic (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University Maryland.