Theory or Pleasure?

“At the end of this year, Shauna, you’re going to eat, sleep and breathe literary theory.”  That’s what a friend of mine told me over the summer.  And I’m not going to lie: it scared me.  A lot.

My academic background only recently includes English.  For that reason, school and hobbies have always remained separate.  For school, I read textbooks.  For fun, I read novels.  But life has a funny way of bringing things together.  So here I am now, looking at the prospect of joining school with fun.

Now I have no qualms about looking at Shakespeare or Margaret Atwood through the theory lense.  But the thought of looking at everything in this way fills me with dread.  My friend started our conversation off with: “I can’t even watch a bad movie without noticing how something is an example of colonialism or whatnot.”  I can’t say that I want to be pointing out colonialism in a bad movie.  Bad movies are something I want to enjoy (or at least make fun of) on a superficial level, not on a deep, intellectual level.  And today, a professor in another class brought this point up again, thereby bringing my dread to the forefront once again.  How can I avoid damaging my pleasure reading with the interpretation school is now demanding of me?

Luckily, Dr. Pound came to the rescue this morning.  He said that it is possible to preserve your enjoyment by not studying something too much.  You can choose to intellectually examine only certain things, while leaving other things just to your senses to enjoy.  Maybe it is possible to live in both worlds, just not both simultaneously.  I only hope that my brain can make the distinction!


1 Comment

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One response to “Theory or Pleasure?

  1. kimmitchell4u

    I think that most people who hear about this course from other English majors are afraid even as they’re going into the course. What I’ve noticed is that Dr.Pound doesn’t seem intent on making us “Literary-theory breathing clones.” I appreciate the fact that he allows us the distinction of intellectual reading and pleasure reading because I wouldn’t be able to cope without my novels. I think as long as we turn our intellectual knowledge towards our school books only, that people who share our views will be able to keep our separate reading preferences separate… and Amen for that. 🙂


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