New Isn’t Necessarily Better

When we hear the word “new” many of our minds unfortunately interpret that word as better. In 2016 “new” is considered an upgrade, a modernized and more updated version of the former. But with the idea of New Criticism, leaving the old ideas behind may not be for the best. As students aren’t we supposed to question either the understood OR misunderstood happenings in the world surrounding us? (Or in this case, the writings that we are read and taught in a classroom). Instead, New Criticism wants us to define the overall answer, the actual meaning of the work. But without our own interpretation ofisunderstood happenings in the world surrounding us? (Or in this case, the writings that we are read and taught in a classroom). Instead, New Criticism wants us to define the overall answer, the actual mean the words, we may not truly be digesting what the author intended to express anyway. To limit poetry (a text) to one finite answer should be considered a crime.

“Placing little emphasis on the author, the social context, or a text’s historical situation as a source for discovering a poem’s meaning, the New Critics assert that a reader’s emotional response to a text is neither important nor equivalent to its interpretation.” Even though a text such as poetry is meant to be read, the poem itself should be looked at as a whole. The reader’s interpretation truly means nothing. But by having our own ideas and opinions on the words, we actually learn more by expanding our learning. It seems the argument of either close reading or interpretation is in a never ending loop.

Shannen Coleman