Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rhetorical Criticism, Fish netted

I am reading Phyllis Trible's little book on Jonah. The book begins with a historical review of Rhetorical Criticism. It is a lovely review from Aristotle to Frye and all points since to 1990. Here though - part way through her description of reader-response criticism is a cute sentence that stands apart as my quote of the day:
Susan Suleiman identified six approaches within reader-response criticism: rhetorical, semiotic and structuralist, phenomenological, subjective and psychoanalytical, sociological and historical, and hermeneutic. Even then she found it difficult to anchor the floating work of the critic Stanley Fish. He began his literary voyage by countering New Criticism. "Meaning" is not the end result of analyzing the formal structures but rather develops as the reader experiences the text.... Yet a common level hooked Fish into assuming once again the stability of the text for controlling the reader's experience...
pause for book titles: Suleiman, The reader in the Text ...
Fish, Is there a Text in this Class?

Bayard would help us place these titles in our Library.

Now for the continuation of Triblisms as she nets out the Fish metaphor:
...He wrote of the constant transformation of interpretation. The process meant, however, that the reader no longer controlled the text. At the end of Fish's voyage, the reader did not respond so much as disappear into the belly of "rhetoricizing".
(Page 66) She hasn't mentioned Jonah yet - but I've had a sufficient intro to Rhet. Crit.