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Study Guide

ENG 112- Final Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam ( 23 pages long!)


Department
English
Course Code
ENG 112
Professor
seanspringer
Study Guide
Final

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Ryerson
ENG 112
FINAL EXAM
STUDY GUIDE

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Jan. 20, 2017
ENG 112: Zap, Pow, Bang Pop Lit
Week 1: What is Popular Literature?
Best Selling Genres (2015, print books only, adult fiction market share)
- Literary fiction 24%
- Romance 20%
- Suspense/thriller 15%
- Science fiction and fantasy 9%
- Mystery/detective 9%
- Graphic novels 7%
Arthur Krystal, “Easy Writers”
- According to Arthur Krystal, what are the main differences between literary
fiction and genre fiction?
Lev Grossman, “Literary Revolution in the Supermarket Aisle”
- According to Grossman, what does Krystal get wrong about genre fiction?
Artistic Hierarchies
- An artistic hierarchy ranks works of art
- Two kinds of artistic hierarchies:
o Those that rank particular works of art (e.g. painting X is better than
painting Y);
o Those that rank entire genres or art forms (e.g. painting is better than
poetry)
- To study genre fiction, we need to move beyond the tendency to argue that
literary fiction is entirely better than genre fiction
- “If a man, who through clever training, can become anything and imitate
anything, should arrive in our city, wanting to give a performance of his poems,
we should bow down before him as someone holy, wonderful, and pleasing, but
we should tell him that there is no one like him in our city and that it isn’t lawful
for him to be there. We should pour myrrh of his head, crown him with wreaths,
and send him away to another city. But, for our own good, we ourselves should
employ a more austere and less pleasure-giving poet and story-teller, one who
would imitate the speech of a more decent person and who would tell his stories
in accordance with the patterns we laid down when we first undertook the
education of our soldiers.” – Plato’s Republic
- “Sculpture shows with little labour what in painting appears a miraculous thing to
do; to make what is impalpable appear palpable, flat objects appear in relief,
distant objects seem close. In fact painting is adorned with infinite possibilities
which sculpture cannot command.” – Leonardo da Vinci, ca. 1508
- “Thought the poet is as free as the painter in the invention of his fictions they are
not so satisfactory to men as paintings; for, though poetry is able to describe
forms, actions and places in words, the painter deals with the actual similitude of
the forms, in order to represent them. Now tell me which is the nearer to the
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Jan. 20, 2017
actual man: the name of man or the image of the man.” – Leonardo da Vinci, ca.
1508
Why does it matter?
- If your economic and social position depends on persuading your peers that your
work is culturally superior, then you might be motivated to make these kinds of
arguments.
- “Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth, by calling imagination to the help
of the reason. Epic poetry undertakes to teach the most important truths by the
most pleasing precepts, and therefore relates some great event in the most
affecting manner.” – Samuel Johnson, 1779
The Baby Einstein Phenomenon
- Individuals have a duty to “improve”
- What does it mean to improve?
- Many assume that exposure to high art catalysts this vague notion of improvement
- The baby-educating industry exploits this assumption
Any Yet…
- From a study on “Baby Media”:
- “The most important result was that children who viewed the DVD did not learn
anymore words from their month long exposure to it than did a control group. The
highest level of learning occurred in a no-video condition in which parents tried to
teach their children the same target words during everyday activities.”
- “… where the reading of novels prevails as a habit, it occasions in time the entire
destruction of the powers of the mind; it is such an utter loss to the reader, that it
is not so much to be called pass-time as kill-time.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
1811
Some problems with these claims
- 1. The concept of “improving the individual’s mind” is arbitrary
- 2. The mere act of reading a book comes with no guarantees
- 3. Different people interact with different art forms in different ways
- 4. These claims imply that art is merely instrumental
- 5. They shame the enjoyment of art for art’s sake
- 6. They imply that an individual who lacks exposure to certain art forms is
somehow inadequate
- 7. They shame the individual who cannot find meaningful life lessons in certain
works of art, e.g. Homer’s Odyssey
- 8. Artistic hierarchies tend to target “new” inventions, notably those associated
with the working classes
Genre Fiction is an Outgrowth of the Modern World
- Spike in literary rates
- Spike in leisure time for the lower class
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