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Preparing for IVANHOE

I. Find a critical perspective from which you would like to view Romantic poetry, plays, or novels. There are many such perspectives, feminism among them. You may want to muck around a bit before doing so: read through some of the books on reserve to see whether you can discern the critic’s perspective (it may be stated outright) or find information about other types of criticism. Or you may wish to go directly to the MLA online catalogue and plug in some search terms:

At MiamiLink Home Page, click on “Indexes & Databases” (top center), then “M,” then “MLA International Bibliography.”

  • Enter “Blake, William” (or whatever Romantic author you are working on; do not use quotation marks) as SUBJECT (not “author”: you are searching for works about not by him or her).
  • Enter a keyword that might be appropriate for your search: feminism, women, woman, class, economy, race, etc.
  • Make sure to check in the library catalogue for the titles of any journals you find before looking for them on the first floor where they are shelved by title. Some journals may now be available on line; some may now have a call number and be in the stacks.
  • Remember this key when doing on line research: when you come up with nothing, BE VERY SUSPICIOUS. Millions of Blake, Wordsworth, and Keats scholars over the last century have indeed produced a large body of Blake scholarship (o.k., o.k., so “millions” may be an exaggeration!). Check your spelling. Try other ways of searching for the same thing – what happens if you use "William Blake" as keyword, for instance?

You can see here two sample searches that have retrieved articles with a particular critical perspective: Blake and Feminism, Blake and Marxism. However, your searches may not yield articles that are all written from one perspective, and you may have to dip into several articles to discover each author's particular standpoint. Look for theoretical ideas delineated for you in supplemental handouts or on the Literary Theory website. What kinds of interpretive moves are mandated by that particular perspective? That is, do feminist critics necessarily look at female characters, or do they look at how gender identities are constructed, whether "feminine" or "masculine" attributes are applied to actual characters or not. One way to get at the theory and the method of each essay is to jot down key terms and two or three main ideas that would motivate your critic. Then ask yourself, "what would I be looking for, if I had those terms / ideas in mind when I was reading a Romantic poem, play, or novel"? In this way, you will be able to notice some of the interpretive strategies presented in each article you read.

After taking the same kinds of notes on three articles or portions of books, you are now ready to "play" at being a critic of that school.

Spend approximately 8 hours total on this task.

II. Meet with your Group during class time on Thursday, 9/18. Your session leader will select a poem, and you will play the IVANHOE. The form is attached.

III. Write a 2- to 3-page, double-spaced, typed paper in which you analyze one article in particular, summarizing and quoting just those portions of it that reveal its critical perspective. Then, analyze one poem using that perspective. Ideally you would have explained, in the first part of the paper, some critical “moves” made by your critic in reading a poem; now yourself make such moves.

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Published @ RC

December 2004