1/30 – Response 1.1

January 28, 2019

Reading assignment:

Terry Eagleton, “Introduction: What is Literature?” Please read this chapter carefully and take notes. It will be helpful to mark important passages, and to mark the places that inspire questions or confusion.

Writing assignment:

We ended last class by discussing this line in Marianne Moore’s “Poetry”: “. . . these things are important not because a / high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are / useful.”

How does her idea of poetry being important when it is useful seem to relate to Terry Eagleton’s attempt to define what literature is? Think especially of his discussion of “interests” and “value.” Is “usefulness,” then, a stable definitional category for literature? What do you think Eagleton means when he writes, “value-judgements themselves have a close relation to social ideologies” (14)?

Please respond below with about 250 words. You may choose to respond directly to the prompt, or you may respond to a previous comment left by a classmate. Be sure to quote important moments directly from the text with a parenthetical citation of the page number inside the punctuation, as in the example above.

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19 Responses to “1/30 – Response 1.1”

  1.   jennifer gavilanes said:

    Marianne Moore’s idea of poetry being important when it is “useful” in “these things are important not because a high- sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are useful” meaning, when a poem uses literary devices or exaggeration to point out a specific part of the poem to make it stand out, it’s being exaggerated but this is what is “useful” because it is bringing attention and pointing out this to the reader which makes them think, therefore being useful in that sense. This seems to relate to Trey’s attempt to define what literature is because in his article he explains that when put in a situation like people arguing work as “philosophy in one century and literature in the next” and therefore, he believes that value is anything that is valued by a person in any specific situation. I think this could be a good definition of literature because when people say literature or write it, they are putting into perspective the value of what they are describing. When he states that “value – judgements themselves have a close relation to social ideologies”, I believe by this he means that value judgements show what a set of social opinions or beliefs do, since they are both perspectives on a specific way of viewing or describing something in a more defined way of seeing.

  2.   Rawdah Rahim said:

    Marianne Moore and Terry Eagleton direct their writing to express the definition of complex words that have been manipulated throughout history through authors and readers. Moore attempts to define poetry as something that is not a “high-sounding interpretation” (3) but something that is “useful” (3). Anybody can take a piece of text and unravel the meaning of it and find the authors purpose, but Moore emphasizes that poetry should be intended to be understood as a personalized message that the reader can appreciate.

    Terry Eagleton uses a similar connotation to attempt explaining literature. He concentrates on “interests” and “values” as a relationship in society and how one evaluates a situation. He states “value-judgments themselves have a close relation to social ideologies” (14). Social ideologies are a set of standards in a community that is considered acceptable and followed. Value Judgment is when an individual acts based on their, escaping the norms. Like Moore, Terry Eagleton attempts to explain that literature can be of value to a person if they can take the unbeaten path to understand the writing for themselves instead of following the general assumptions made about a piece of literature.

    Based on the two authors explanations of what poetry and literature mean, “usefulness” is a flexible word to explain literature because if we can put things into perspective and value the outcome from composition then inevitably it will be useful to us.

  3.   Ricky Coello said:

    Both Marianne Moore and Terry Eagleton express their interpretations of their respective mediums, poetry and literature, in similar manners. Both authors seem to focus on personal interpretation instead of general agreed upon ones. When Moore states “…these things are important not because a / high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are / useful.” she emphasizes on this fact, meaning that while complex and seeping with truth, a piece of poetry may not still hold value to an individual if they can not relate in the most raw of senses:experience. If they can read and interpret every single word and phrase and guess exactly what the poet meant means nothing to the worth of the poem unless they can utilize what they read and have it coincide with their own physical and emotional being.

    Terry Eagleton explains this similarly in the context of literature. In his example where the young students were made to read pieces of literature without knowledge of the author or title, their presumptions of those pieces were stripped away and it allowed them to hold it, not in regards to an academic or scholarly expectation, but as what it truly meant to the reader and what they can take from it.

  4.   Navneet Kaur said:

    Marianne Moore defines poetry as something that shouldn’t be viewed as a “high-sounding interpretation” but something that should be “useful”. She tries to get the point across that the purpose of poetry isn’t merely just about figuring out the author’s purpose but it should be used to be related to and to be interpreted in one’s own way that can be related to. Tery Eagleton expresses a similar approach in explaining literature. He states “interests” and “values” to show a bridge that connects how one’s relationship in society can be used in social circumstances which come into play when Terry states “value-judgment themselves have a close relation to social ideologies”. This further conveys the idea of social ideologies being a set of rules that are normal and value judgments as persons own behavior. Moore and Terry both attempt to explain poems and literature in a way that should be valued by a person. Based on their explanation the word “usefulness” is an appropriate word that can be used to explain literature since it can help support the idea that if we put the writing pieces in perspective then the value for the piece will increase and it will, in the end, be more useful to the reader.

  5.   Rose Fattakhov said:

    Marianne Moore and Terry Eagleton have similar views, and both discuss how words and phrases in different bodies of writing have been interpreted in different ways. Previous readers have dissected texts to understand the meaning of the authors. Moore’s idea of poetry being important when it is useful supports the fact that a reader needs to be able to understand what an author puts forward. This way the writing in the text can target the reader with emotions and relatability. As Moore says, “…we do not admire what we cannot understand.” If a reader cannot understand the text, then the useful information will not be admired and taken in.

    Terry Eagleton tries to explain the definition of literature by linking value and ideology to literature. Eagleton tries to explain what value is when it comes to literature. He explains that texts which are rated on a high level are considered to be literature, but then the question of ‘What about the less valuable texts? What are they considered?’ arises. Eagleton closes this discussion by saying “we can drop once and for all the illusion that the category ‘literature’ is ‘objective,’ in the sense of being eternally given and immutable. Anything can be literature, and anything which is regarded as unalterably and unquestionably literature” (9). This quote by Eagleton states that any work can be considered literature no matter what its value is. Eagleton also tried to define literature with ideology. He states that a person’s ideology comes from how the person reads and takes in a complete text. Eagleton claims it is impossible not to bring your own ideology when reading a text, and every person’s ideology is different, so every person will interpret a text in their own way. No interpretation will be the same.

    According to Moore’s and Eagleton’s responses, the term “usefulness” is an unstable definition of literature. There is no straightforward word or sentence that can be used to define literature.

  6.   Terry Chen said:

    In Marianne Moore’s poem she stated that “… these things are important not because a / high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are / useful”. This line expresses that poetry aren’t important because there are deeper meanings to it but rather it can be valuable to someone. In Terry Eagleton’s attempt to define literature he states that “Nevertheless, the Formalists still presumed that ‘making strange’ was the essence of the literary” (5). This means any form of written that is informal is considered as literature and poetry is a form of writing that doesn’t follow the standards of a formal paper. Eagleton continues on to say “To think of literature as Formalists do is really to think of all literature as poetry” (5). Moreover, people view things differently depending on their interests and behaviors. Like the phrase, a man’s trash is another man’s treasure is somewhat depicted in Eagleton’s book. He stated that “but it may also be that people have not actually been valuing the ‘same’ work at all” (11). This relates to Moore’s line where she stated that poetry can be useful because poetry can be valuable to some people. Lastly, when Eagleton said “value-judgements themselves have a close relation to social ideologies” (14), I think he meant that value-judgement is based on one’s social ideology. One might think a certain object is considered valuable but another person can disagreed because of their ideology.

  7.   Jason Jiang said:

    Marianne Moore’s idea of poetry being important when it is useful relates to Terry Eagleton’s attempt to define what literature is as both authors mention how literary devices can be used to distinguish the piece of literature from their peers.

    Terry Eagleton expresses this when he states how “what was specific to literary language, what distinguished it from other forms of discourse, was that it ‘deformed’ ordinary language in various ways” (3). What Eagleton means by this is that literary devices help bring life to literature which is what Moore’s means when poetry is important when it is useful as poetry contains literary devices and it helps poetry deviate from the norm which attracts attention and draws the reader in.

    When Eagleton writes “value-judgement’s themselves have a close relation to social ideologies” (14), what he means is that society has its own ideals that and people make judgement’s based on those social ideologies. One such example is when he states how nobody would define a bus ticket as inferior literature while they would define a poem written by Ernest Dowson as inferior (9). This is because society doesn’t hold bus tickets as a superior piece of literature because it was never meant to be seen that way, while the poem is meant to be a piece of literature.

  8.   Alinoor Rahman said:

    Both authors share their thoughts and similar views on different forms of writing, as well as how individuals interpret their works in many different ways. Marianne Moore stated that “… these things are important not because a / high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are / useful,” in “Poetry.” It is something that has a deep meaning to the writer. In many cases the read may have a connection to the poem as well. Poetry is something Marianne Moore describes as needing to be “useful”

    Terry Eagleton attempts to define what literature is in many ways. One thing that stuck out to me was when Eagleton stated, “the definition of literature is up to how somebody decides to read, not to the nature of what is written” (7). Meaning it could be a poem, play, or novel, but still can be considered “literature.” Everyone has a different interpretation of what they read, and how they read it. Many of us have different ideologies and behaviors. Eagleton also concluded that “literary” changes with history. “Some texts are born literary, some achieve literariness, and some have literariness thrust upon them.”
    He made an important connection stating that “What matters may not be where you came from but how people treat you” Works that were never meant to be works of literature were deemed to be just that. (8). Eagleton wrote “value-judgements themselves have a close relation to social ideologies” (14), I think he meant that everyone has their own opinion on what people consider valuable. One might find one piece of literature mesmerizing, while someone else may find it boring.

  9.   Stephanie Simondac said:

    Marianne Moore’s idea of poetry being important when it is useful is similar to Terry Eagleton’s definition of literature because they both mention how each concept does not have to have structured rules or ideas. In Moore’s poem, Poetry, she discusses how poetry is not limited when the poet is genuine about their work because it shows their true interest in this art. In Eagleton’s definition of literature, it also talks about it having no limits. He states, “There is no ‘essence’ of literature whatsoever. Any bit of writing may be read ‘non-pragmatically’,” this indicates that it can be presented and interpreted differently depending on the genuine interest of the individual. Eagleton brings up ‘values’ and ‘interests’ by claiming, “value-judgments themselves have a close relation to social ideologies,” the comparison between value-judgments and social ideologies is interesting because social ideologies are also not a simple structured concept; it contains different ideologies, customs, and etc. that are influenced by various factors, in other words, it is not limited to one concept. As a result, Moore and Eagleton’s definitions are both similar being that they agree art is not limited to one rule, objective, interpretation but can be portrayed in various ways.

  10.   Ayoub Janah said:

    Both authors, Marianne Moore and Terry Eagleton make interesting points of how literature is perceived. According to Terry there were many attempts to den=fine what literature really means. It may have been fictional writing or might had to embody values of a certain social class. But this was during the eighteenth century and the word literature has been shaped into a different meaning/understanding. Well first of both authors might have their own personal interpretations of literature but they do agree on a few things. Such as, how people don’t take the word seriously and feel it’s amusing to consider any piece to be literature. For example, Terry states, “For there is nothing whimsical about such kinds of value judgement: they have deeper structures of belief…”(14) Marianne Moore who wrote “Poetry” states, “high sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are useful; when they become so derivative as to become intelligible.” Both quotes have the same attitude of how literature has become a piece of writing where it’s not being taken seriously. Marianne emphasis this to show that poets have been imitating writers to the point where it has become incomprehensible literature. Terry also brings up a significant point, of how structure is where our values are concealed. Our ideology is society may be different depending on each of societies environment and norms. But within each society we each of us hold beliefs that we value. And we are unconscious about this. For example, Terry brings up the point of how society; each and every one us sees the future and what is ahead of us. We go on through our lives without recognizing these special beliefs that we hold. Social ideologies shape what specific words are and if they carry any value. Google defines the word literature as “Written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit.” Artistic merit is the quality of a given work or how it’s perceived among people. This may be represented by many famous writers like Shakespeare and Charles Dickens which their writing was perceived to have a value or quality.
    Marianne Moore and Terry Eagleton emphasis their definition of what literature is; but is their work literature?

  11.   Matthew Outar said:

    I believe that Terry Eagleton’s definition of literature tried to persuade the reader into thinking that the idea of literature is nonexistent. The term “literature” has always been obscure and has become subjective as society progressed. Marianne Moore’s poem about poetry took a very similar angle to Terry’s in his article “What is Literature?”. Marianne believed that the genuineness of poetry has become lost with the literal meaning of words. She refers to poets as “half poets” and “literalists of the imagination”. While she believes that poetry has changed from “imaginary gardens with real life toads” to literal definitions, she understands that poetry has become useful to each individual reader. The usefulness refers to the interpretation that the reader has. The ability to connect to a poem or literature on a personal level makes it useful. After all the true value of a literary work lies is the message taken out by the reader. The term “useful” used by Moore, goes hand in hand with “value judgements” used by Eagleton. Eagleton discusses the progression of literature throughout history and the impact it has had on each social class. The value judgments that were upheld in the upper class were not upheld in the lower class. Eagleton makes it evident that literature has no particular category. He compares poetry to periodicals as if they would be considered literature to everyone. Eagleton shows us that literature cannot fit into any one category because of the social aspect history has taken on it.

  12.   Dejun Gao said:

    Marian Moore believes that poetry is “useful” in “these things” is important, not because they can be interpreted in a high-profile manner, but because they are useful “meaning, when a poem uses literary installations pointing out that a particular part of the poem makes it stand out, it is exaggerated, but it is “useful” because it draws reader’s attention. This is related to Trey’s attempt to define what literature is, because in his article he explained that when people call work “a century of philosophy and the next literature,” he thinks that value is anything. In any particular case. I value it by one person. I think this may be a good definition of literature, because when people say literature or writing, they are looking at the value of what they describe. When he points out “value – judgment itself and social consciousness When form has a close relationship, I think this means that value judgments indicate the role of a group of social views or beliefs because they It is the view of a particular way of seeing, but also in a more explicit way of describing something

  13.   Natalia Paredes said:

    Marianne Moore in her poem “Poetry” emphasizes the idea that poems are important “not because a high-sounding interpretation” (3) can be applied to it, but because they are useful. This applies to Terry Eagleton’s theory when he was attempting to explain what literature is. For Moore, poems are only “useful” if they directly connect with the audience in a way not deep ideas are needed to understand the piece of literature. For Eagleton literature was a complex thing to discuss because there was not only one correct way to classify it. He explains that diverse factors interfere in the interpretation of literature, that it does not only depends on the private perception of it but in the ideals society had. Stereotypes and beliefs played an important role in deciding whether or not a piece of reading was worth being called literature, in the same way, they decided that “ancient Greek art retained an eternal charm” (10). This is when Moore’s idea of ‘useful’ comes to mind, only something that could project the feelings and beliefs society had could be considered useful, and consequently a piece of literature.

  14.   Jenson Hu said:

    The meaning behind the words stated in Marianne Moore’s “Poetry”: “… these things are important not because a / high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are / useful” is to show that there are multiple perspectives that can be used to describe a certain event. Rather than having a single point of view, the different perspectives could lead to more opinions and ideas of interpreting what’s going on. For example, in her poem, she states, “what we cannot understand: … the statistician” to give readers real-life examples of actions we don’t truly understand which may have various answers.
    Her idea of poetry being important when it is useful seems to relate to Terry Eagleton’s attempt to define what literature is because similarly, Eagleton states, “Anything can be literature, and anything which is regarded as unalterably and unquestionably literature – Shakespeare, for example – can cease to be literature”(9). This could mean that there are different ways to interpret the meaning of literature and that it can change over time. There is no set definition as it continues to evolve. Usefulness could be a stable definitional category for literature because people may think of usefulness & the way literature is useful for them as different from others(It could impact their lives differently.) When Eagleton writes, “value-judgements themselves have a close relation to social ideologies”(14), I believe that means the decisions made by people are influenced by the norms of what is going on in a particular society. Some may be influenced to think or do a certain action, while others who believe in something else may not follow in the same concept.

  15.   Veronica Pena said:

    Marianne Moore’s shares her thoughts about poetry by stating “. . . these things are important not because a / high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are / useful”. One can interpret this to mean that poetry becomes important to a reader once it because “useful” to them. To Moore, a person finds poetry useful when they are able to relate to the work. If a person can appreciate a work of poetry on a personal level, then it becomes “useful” to them. This idea is also shown in Terry Eagleton’s explanation of what is defined as literature. Throughout his writing Eagleton goes through multiple examples about how literature has been defined in the past. Written works were once considered literature not from the content they contained, but from the structure and language of the work. He goes to show that literature can have no set definition because a reader applies their own judgements and ideologies into a work. He proves this by using a famous study as an example. In this study a critic, I. A. Richards, gave students various poems, without names or titles. These poems were both highly and lowly regard. He did this to prove that literary value-judgements could be subjective. Eagleton states that in doing so Richards proved “their critical responses were deeply entwined with their broader prejudices and beliefs”. Meaning, no critic can be purely subjective because of the way they themselves think a piece of literature should be. Every person has a different way of viewing a work and their own idea about what makes a work good. Therefore, literature cannot have a set definition. Moore and Eagleton show that literature is thought about differently from each person and generation.

  16.   Wenhui Ding said:

    In Marianne Morre’s poetry, she states that “these things are important not because a high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are useful”. For example, when things like hands, eyes, and hair show their importance. It means that they are “useful”. She believes that when a reader no longer understandable the poem, then the poem will become useless. Marianne Morre’s idea is similar to Trey’s attempt to define what literature is. Eagleton states “Gibbon no doubt thought that he was writing the historical truth, and so perhaps did the authors of Genesis, but they are now read as ‘fat’ by some and ‘fiction’ by others” (2). Eagleton claims that just because one way read a work as fact or fiction does not mean it should not be categorized as literature. Also, Eagleton said, “value-judgments themselves have a close relation to social ideologies”(14). He claims that literature is ultimately based upon social constructs, ideologists, and value-judgments. I believe that people have different point of views is based on social ideology. Finally, there is no objective definition of literature. People have different ideas on the same thing.

  17.   Shayna Laya Frankel said:

    “The rise of English” acknowledges that throughout history there have been various approaches to defining the corpus of literature.

    Some regarded literature as purely written works.

    The 16th century didn’t make a distinction in its literature of fiction or non-fiction. Rather literature was a work of philosophy, as well as a poem, or funeral speech etc. However, a distinction was drawn later on in the 18th century that perhaps fact and fiction were not both literature. (The question of a novel as literature) That literature should carry meaning and value. However, when it comes defining what has value, our definition of literature becomes transient. Literature, no longer has its readers pigeon hold to simply be works of specific writing. Literature now carries a messege or meaning. However, as subjective beings meaning and intention of a written work is highly contextual. So that which is considered literature at a point in time is subject to change based on time and place. Others see literture as an engagement with the text’s form, not content. That literature is a way of engaging language separate from speech.  So to with poetry, as we were reading ‘The Poem’ we first engaged the words as we saw meaningful. However, as subjective beings we placed our biases or personal value judgments on the piece. Lending to different interpretations of the piece. Realizing the title my appreciation for the understanding of the content shifted. As opposed to seeing the words as, words for the sake of words, through my individually experience, I saw it as an attempt at defining a poem. Each stanza carrying another layer of explanation. An introduction to literature highlighted the idea that there is a multiplicity of definitions with regards to literature. To my understanding, The Poem and Poetry express a similar idea.

  18.   kyle swedin said:

    The reason Marianne Morre’s words were significant to me was because it sounded like she wasnt trying to sell me something. what i mean by this is she sounded authentic and what she said sounded like she believed it too and wasnt just trying to be fake. I also think that when she uses the word useful it was a interesting word choice because what is useful to some people may not be useful to others. she wants the poem to actually mean something and have importance rather than having the, “high-sounding interpretation.” While I do believe that perspective is important to her and prevalent in her works, I think she is trying to deliver a more important message then just different perspective. she might be trying to have an even deeper meaning behind her words that must be looked at closely to discover. Although I do not particularly like poetry, I do appreciate the significance of Morre’s words and work and wish to understand it better and fully comprehend the message.

  19.   JiaJun Lin said:

    In an attempt to define what literature is, author Terry Eagleton used terms such as “interests” and “value” to explain how one should interpret the literature. Instead of making assumptions, a reader should forget what he or she have learned and open sense when reading pieces of literature. In “Poetry” by Marianne Moore, she first connected with the audience by saying she disliked poetry, then she said ” high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are useful”, in other words, those elevated lines in each poetry could have various meanings depending on the person that’s understanding it. Because prospective of individuals can be like the thinking of an optimist versus a pessimist.

    Terry Eagleton used a similar concept in an attempt to explain what literature is. On page 14, he wrote “value judgments themselves have a close relation to social ideologies “, it means that regional influence such as culture and education plays a heavy role on how one thinks and judges. For example, people who live in democratic countries like the United States can have a completely different perspective to the world compared to people who live in communist countries like North Korea.

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