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Let me explain: I currently have a class on 20th century American Literature. It's a Hauptstudiums Seminar (or, for you English-speaking folks, an advanced class meant to be taken in the second half of your studies), so you would actually assume that the people taking that class have a small inkling of literary theory, or what literary science means, or indeed, what "American" is. You would also think that, being advanced students of literature in the 2000s, they know that to analyse any form of text it might be helpful to keep in mind the time in which it was written, because, lo, texts don't exist in a vacuum, and a thirty-year-old college educated man in the 1950s USA might think and write differently than a 20 something middle class magister student from Northern Germany who has apparently never once in his life looked into a textbook on literature, or a history book, or a book on American culture, who has never even once heard of the idea that your own time and environment influence your values and tastes, and whose basic idea of literary criticism consists of "I think every poem that considers itself art should be ironic." How this impressive philosophical epitaph can then be translated to T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land (as ironic as they come) being "pretentious and elitist" and Ginsberg's Howl (full of pathos, highly religious imagery and emotion) being a "masterpiece of clever irony" is seriously beyond me, but it makes me honestly question my decision to continue this nonsense.

(Btw, this is also the class which included the all-time classic declaration that poetry is only poetry when it rhymes. Seriously, can someone shiv me?)

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weewarrior

February 2013

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