English 456: C20 Criticism and Theory

Questions on Wimsatt and Beardsley's
"The Intential Fallacy" and "The Affective Fallacy"

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"The Intentional Fallacy"

Section I

1. According to Wimsatt and Beardsley, why isn't the author's intention a legitimate standard of judment for the objective critic?

2. How do W & B defend their borrowing from Archibald Macleish of the line "a poem should not mean, but be"? What is the "being" of a poem?

3. In what sense does the poem belong to the public?

Section II

4. What arguments do W & B offer against the objectivism of Benedetto Croce and the intentionalism of I.A. Richards?

Section III

5. How much faith, according to W & B, should be accord to the poet's own judgment of a given work?

Section IV

6. What argument do W & B set forth against literary biography? How can the internal be "public" at the same time, and why is it illegitimate to explain a poem on the basis of an author's private associations?

7. How do W & B establish that a poem has an "inside" and an "outside"? On 1382, for example, what do they say must be the case before we can properly talk about anything concerning a poem?

Section V

8. What role do "allusions" play in the interpretation of poetry?

"The Affective Fallacy"

1. What is the affective fallacy, and what effect does it have on literary criticism?

Section I

2. What criticism do W & B make of Charles Stevenson's explanation of the individual reader's emotions in relation to literary criticism?

3. Why, according to W & B, does theoretical or scientific affective criticism appeal to so many of their contemporaries, even though impressionistic varieties of affective criticism are treated with contempt?

Section II

4. What is the "physiological" version of affective criticism?

Section III

5. W & B quote Thomas Mann's saying that "art is a cold sphere." How is their formalism indebted to Kantian aesthetics? Why, that is, can't a critic take emotions directly into account when interpreting a poem?

6. How is it nonetheless possible for an objective critic to deal with emotion? How is emotion "translateable" into a form that the critic can and should discuss?

Section IV

7. How do W & B define "metaphor," and why is it such an important device to them?

8. What, according to W & B, does poetry preserve from past cultures, and how can objective critics and their audience investigate what is preserved? To what extent are W & B making an argument in favor of art's "cognitive significance" or general social importance when they discuss art as a preserving force?

Edition: The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: Norton, 2001. ISBN: 0393974294.