New Criticism and theory

At the beginning of his book on Deconstruction , Jonathan Culler notes that critical theory, seen “as an attempt to establish the validity or invalidity of particular interpretive procedures,” is profoundly indebted to New Criticism: This movement “not only instilled the . . . . Continue Reading »

Thoughts on Beowulf

All page numbers are from the Heany translation. The central focus of the first two fights is Heorot, the mead-hall of Hrothgar. The mead-hall is the focus of a complex of imagery. (The last fight has a similar origin, as Beowulf’s hall is destroyed by the dragon. The house is a place where . . . . Continue Reading »

Christianization of Germanic Lit

Beowulf reflects the tensions between the Christian culture spreading throughout Northern Europe and the pagan cultures into which it came into conflict. The poem has its place within this clash of civilizations in the first 500 years AD. It is a product of the history of missions. The Germanic . . . . Continue Reading »

Still more on Hamlet

SERPENT KING Among other things, Hamlet is a dramatic reflection on philosophical anthropology: What is a man? and What are the conditions of human experience and existence? This is related to the theme we explored a few weeks ago under the heading of “action”: What are the rules and . . . . Continue Reading »

Mark’s Meta-Irony

Mark is known for the understated irony of his gospel, but there is a large-scale irony overarching the book that is worthy of Sophocles. Readers know from the first verse of the gospel that Jesus is Son of God, and that title is used periodically through the gospel by the Father and by demons. But . . . . Continue Reading »

Renaissance Self-Criticism

What characterizes the Renaissance sensibility of the self? Two things, perhaps: First: not the playing of roles, but the consciousness of playing roles, the consciousness that creates an ironic distance between role and role-player. Richard II is entirely expressed in his assigned role; Henry V . . . . Continue Reading »

Primer on Litcrit

New Critics, Feminists Phenomenology; Reader-Response critics Need no apology. There are Formalists of Russia, Structuralists of France. Give Archetypal Critics More than a glance. Marxists are strange birds, Like Speech-Act Theorists. And yet there’s no doubt Which theory is Queerest. . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon Outline

INTRODUCTION Joash’s story is an ironic tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions. His reign begins well, with a dramatic and surprising renewal of the Davidic line, and he pays his dues by repairing the temple. Before the end of his life, he loots the very temple he has repaired. THE TEXT . . . . Continue Reading »

Eucharistic meditation, Sixth Epiphany

2 Kings 11:1: When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she rose and destroyed all the royal seed. At the beginning, the story of Athaliah appears to be the story of the destruction of the house of David. Athaliah kills all the royal seed, and it appears that the house of David . . . . Continue Reading »

Baptism Meditation, Sixth After Epiphany

2 Kings 11:3: So Joash was hidden with her in the house of Yahweh six years, while Athaliah was reigning over the land. The story in the sermon today is the story of two kingdoms, two rulers, two reigns. One is open, public, evident to everyone who reads the newspapers. It is a kingdom of blood, . . . . Continue Reading »