segunda-feira, maio 12, 2008

Ciências e letras

Achei que seria só mais um lamento sobre a esterilidade do pós-modernismo nos estudos literários e culturais, até chegar a este trecho:

Or consider this shibboleth of modern literary theory: the author is dead. Roughly speaking, this statement means that authors have no power over their readers. When we read stories we do not so much yield to the author's creation as create it anew ourselves - manufacturing our own highly idiosyncratic meanings as we go along. This idea has radical implications: If it is true, there can be no shared understanding of what literary works mean. But like so much else that passes for knowledge in contemporary literary studies, this assertion has its basis only in the swaggering authority of its asserter - in this case, Roland Barthes, one of the founding giants of poststructuralist literary theory.

Is this one of those squishy, unfalsifiable literary claims? No, it is also testable. Hijacking methods from psychology, Joseph Carroll, John Johnson, Dan Kruger, and I surveyed the emotional and analytic responses of 500 literary scholars and avid readers to characters from scores of 19th-century British novels. We wanted to determine how different their reading experiences truly were. Did reactions to characters vary profoundly from reader to reader? As we write in "Graphing Jane Austen," a book undergoing peer review, there were variations in what our readers thought and felt about literary characters, but it was expertly contained by the authors within narrow ranges. Our conclusion: rumors of the author's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Ah, ainda existe esperança na academia...

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