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 eaching Theory through Daisy Miller
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102 TEACHING THEORY Pericles Lewis 103, I am most grateful report that the weakest and the strongest students tend he fell away from the standards of realism attained by such stories as Daisy. to write on Daisy Miller while those in the middling group are more inclined Miller. to choose a favorite text of their own On the final day of class I sketch a I The expressive critic concerned with the greatness of James s mind T S. series of potential readings of Daisy Miller seen from various theoretical Eliot called that mind so fine that no idea could violate it Selected Prose. angles 1511 might look to James s biography to see possible sources of inspiration. After my students read challenging articles by Cleanth Brooks Hans Georg for Daisy Miller Here the biographical critic would probably be interested. Gadamer Stanley Fish Roman Jakobson Jacques Derrida Paul de Man Bar I. in James s adolescent fascination with his cousin Minny Temple who died. bara Johnson Jacques Lacan Michel Foucault Edward Said Henry Louis young and who inspired such characters as Isabel Archer in The Portrait of a. Gates Jr Stephen Greenblatt Catherine Gallagher and Judith Butler they Lady and Milly Theale in The Wings of the Dove The biographical critic might. often want to see how these theories apply to a work of literature Drawing also look at Winterbourne as a sort of self portrait a theme I delve into later. on philosophy linguistics anthropology and other disciplines theory does not in the lecture when I get to queer studies At any rate the expressivist is likely. always resemble what one typically thinks of as criticism Yet each theoretical to praise James s fine description of a certain type of sensibility in. movement we discuss in the course has spawned its own type of literary crit Winterbourne. icism Too often alas critics merely take the theory of their favorite theorist The affective critic naturally asks What is the moral of this story The most. and apply it wholesale to a literary text Offering theoretical readings of Daisy obvious moral concerns Daisy s behavior Don t go around with strange Itahan. Miller inevitably involves a certain violence toward a rather delicate text It men The stem moralist may be happy enough with Daisy s fate. also has a tendency to devolve into parody but I hope that a little bit of parody but some moral dritics will remind us that the code to which Daisy Miller is. gives the students some sense of the various schools of critics My demon held is an old fashioned one and that malaria is carried by mosquitoes not by. stration suggests to the students how literary theory can sometimes go over strange Italian men Another more troubling moral lies in Winterbourne s. the top It shows both the power and limitations of theory In S Z Roland final judgment about Daisy which I explore later in the lecture. Barthes took apart a classic or readerly text Bdzac s Sarrasine to show it Against all this moralizing biographizing and realizing the formalist critic. to be modem or writerly 3 28 Like Sarrasine Daisy Miller is a story or New Critic objects asking us to return to the text itself There are all sorts. about interpretation and the social codes associated with gender Following of interesting formal patterns in the text but I examine an obvious one the. Barthes s example and that of Frederick Crews in Postmodern Pooh I argue series of flower metaphors Annie l Miller s nickname is Daisy and a daisy. that the apparently straightforward text of Daisy Miller is susceptible of a is a short lived flower It represents innocence The formalist calls our atten. variety of interpretations I treat some schools in detail and others only in tion to James s use of words associated with flowers to describe Daisy as when. passing I do not aim to give thorough readings of the text since students are Winterbourne thinks that her glance is perfectly direct and unshrinking she. doing so and I treat least thoroughly the theories on which they are expected is more a daisy than a shrinking violet and also that her eyes are singularly. to write their final papers In my representations of various critical schools honest and fresh 53 Daisy unfortunately meets up with Giovanelli who. no similarity to actual critics living or dead is intended has a penchant for plucking flowers and putting them in his buttonholes 1081. The course begins by looking at three older types of criticism each of which just as he enjoys practicing his fine English on American heiresses When. was attacked by the New Critics the mimetic old historicist the expressive Daisy dies in the spring she winds up in the Protestant cemetery beneath the. biographical and the affective or pragmatic moralizing All three are de cypresses and the thck spring flowers 115 This tracing of metaphors is of. scribed by M H Abrams in The Mirror and the Lamp 3 29 The New course fairly simplistic A New Critic would be alive to the ironies of James s. Critics reacting against these types of criticism proposed something that we text and undoubtedly notice the central tension that animates it the tension. could call formal criticism or objective criticism which is concerned with the between Winterbourne s desire for Daisy and his fear of her recklessness The. text as object rather than with its relations to nature an author or an audience New Critic would note that Daisy displays no irony 53 which suggests. The mimetic model of literature inspired older historical critics who might immediately that she is innocent and finally the New Critic would note the. look to Daisy Miller as a portrait or study of young American womanhood central irony of the story namely that Winterbourne in a sense makes Daisy. during the Gilded Age James uses the word study i11 the subtitle of the guilty by failing to believe in her This central irony is what I referred to earlier. story and the word portrait of course in The Portrait of a Lady For mimetic when I said that there were messages in this story that the moralist critic. critics who demand realism of a work of art James might well score points might object to 1 further explore the problem of this irony below. for how he describes a young woman of middle brow education but significant After an introductory unit on formalism and the New Criticism the course. wealth on the European tour Critics of his later work often complained that turns to hermeneutics and reader response theory The reader response critic. 104 TEACHING THEORY Perides Lewis 105, might be interested in how the narrator of Daisy Miller who acts like a third Colosseum As her mother says She goes round everywhere 83 Daisy. person narrator with access to Winterbourne s thoughts but nonetheless refers moves abruptly or jerkily from apparent innocence to apparent guilt. to himself in the first person sets up a sort of dialogue with us the readers She also moves up and down the social scale at will as her intimacy with. by addressing us as you 47 He then corrects his interpretation of events servants indicates As James writes hi seemed to Winterbourne in all. and claims to lack knowledge of Winterbourne s character as in the expres thls an extraordinary mixture of innocence and crudity or again an inscru. sions I hardy know whether and What I should say is 48 The table combination of audacity and innocence 78 90 The word flirt sets. reader response critic might note how the narrator forces us to experience up a chain of signifiers a daisy chain that can never find its transcendental. Winterbourne as a mystery it is difficult for us to know his thoughts just as signified The other signifiers associated with it are wild respectability. it is difficult for him to know Daisy s nice dreadful 63 innocent uncultivated guilty 64 exclusive. A good portion of the course is devoted to structural m and deconstruction 66 natural 68 common delicate grace 68 freedom 75 ig. The structuralist sets up for us a neat set of oppositions that define the text norant vulgar bad 80 indelicate 94 the Golden Age 103. pretty undefended 105 The deconstructionist would note how both. male delicate and indelicate as well as the opposites innocent and guilty. female innocent coquette, Protestant appear in this list Flirtation is the free play of the signifier detached from the. Catholic Winterbourne Eugenio, America Europe Winterbourne Giovanelli signified The flirt seems to occupy both sides of the opposition and to be. Geneva Rome cultivated wild unwilling to set into one side In this Daisy displays the logic of the sup. reason instinct exclusive common plement that students have encountered in Derrida s Structure Sign and. Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences Richter 878 89 She suggests. to us that innocence always already contains in it the seed of its opposite. In thls context we might note Winterbourne s name his bourne or harbor is experience and that innocence can be defined only by its opposition with. wintery Geneva and he can be opposed to the Italian Eugenio whose name experience We see this dynamic of innocence and experience in Winter. means well born and who was born in the south of Italy The structuralist bourne himself of whom his aunt says You are too innocent then You are. does not fail to note that all the oppositions center on the problem of sex too guilty 64. P There are several tacks that the deconstructive critic could take but let us A more de Manian mode of deconstructive inquiry might note how Win. begin with the word flirt The deconstructor will note that each binary op terbourne tries to read Daisy as if she were a text This desire to read her is. position described by the structuralist breaks down What is the agency of this forever frustrated We see an early formulation of this problem in relation to. breakdown It is Daisy the flirt The deconstructionist turns to the American Daisy s Italian friend Mr Giovanelli Winterbourne tells Daisy He is not a. Heritage Dictionary and reads that the verb toflirt is defined as fallows gentleman he is only a clever imitation of one then inwardly complains. about her inability to distinguish a spurious gentleman from a real one Im. intl 1 To make playfully romantic or sexual overtures 2 To act so as mediately afterward though he perceives that such a distinction is indeed. to attract or provoke The bulljighter Pirted with death 3 To move difficult to make for It was tme that if he was an imitation the imitation was. abruptly or jerkily tr 1 To toss or flip suddenly 2 To move quickly very skilful 89 The problem of how to read Mr Giovanelli is small com. pared with the problem of how to read Daisy A crucial moment occurs in. The first intransitive definition includes precisely the problem that Winter the Colosseum when seeing Daisy there at night with Giovanelli. bourne faces whether to view Daisy s overtures as romantic or sexual He. decides that Daisy is a flirt a pretty American flirt 57 but this category Winterbourne stopped with a sort of horror and it must be added. does not make it easy for him to place her on one side or the other of the with a sort of relief It was as if a sudden illumination had been flashed. binary oppositions offered to us by the structuralists Rather her tendency as upon the ambiguity of Daisy s behaviour and the riddle had become. a flirt is to flirt from side to side James even uses the verb in sense 3 when easy to read She was a young lady whom a gentleman need no longer. he writes that Daisy flirted back with a pretty little cry and a shudder from be at pains to respect 111. the edge of the oubliettes 76 Whereas women are supposed to stick strictly. to the private sphere Daisy enjoys being seen in public on the Pincian hill Winterbourne thus gives her up but as he learns later on when she sends. in the lobby of her hotel out on the lake in the Chsteau de Chillon in the him the message that she never was engaged to Giovanelli he may have. 108 TEACHING THEORY Pericles Lewis 109, Randalph is always sticking his alpenstock where it doesn t belong his true representation of Protestantism in the story We might look at Winterbourne.
pleasures like Winterbourne s are oral when he gets three fragments of sugar in relation to the fate of the Protestant ethic which was most famously the. from Winterbourne he thrusts two in the pocket of his knickerbockers and orized by Max Weber but which was also studied by Henry James s brother. one in another place 49 his mouth an example of James s wonderfully William in his Varieties of Religious Experience We might note Winter. periphrastic style which recalls for the reader of Dante the prominence of bourne s attachment to Geneva which the narrator refers to as the little. the mouth in the canto of Paolo and Francesca Note that the boy has lost metropolis of Calvinism 48 Winterbourne leaves Geneva for Rome at the. several teeth 50 halfway point of the story the beginning of chapter 3 and Daisy lies buried. Why see Randolph as an image of Winterbourne He looks prematurely in the Protestant cemetery in Rome along with the poets Keats and Shelley. aged and Winterbourne wonders if he himself had been like this in his. infancy for he had been brought to Europe at about this age as indeed. He compares Randolph to the infant Hannibal who grew up to be the Car. l thaginian general who invaded Italy and nearly took Rome 82 We might. James had 50 The interest aroused by the small boy is displaced onto Daisy even think of the Christian martyrs in the Colosseum and imagine that Daisy. but Winterbourne s failure to respond actively to her can be traced to his winds up a martyr to Christian morality We would pay particular attention to. fundamentally oral form of sexuality The older woman in Geneva is essentially Winterbourne s observation I suspect Mrs Walker that you and I have lived. a front no one after all has ever seen her His attitude to sex with women too long at Geneva 94 We would explore further the fact mentioned in. can be compared to Randolph s attitude to the ship The City of Richmond endnote 11 that many early Protestant reformers were locked up in the Ch2. that brought the Millers to Europe it was turned the wrong way 83 In teau de Chillon which Winterbourne visits with Daisy Henry James presents. directing himself toward women Winterbourne is pointing himself in the Winterbourne and most of the story s Protestants as behaving with what We. wrong direction A sexual interest in Giovanelli might even be made out on ber would call worldly asceticism the tendency to live in the world but deny. the theory of triangular desire Winterbourne s desire for Daisy seems to grow oneself the pleasures of that world an example of taking monastic morality. once Winterbourne realizes that Giovanelli is courting her He comments re out of the monasteries and applying it to the population at large We would. peatedly though apparently in anger on Giovanelli s very pretty face 89 then see in the fate of Daisy Miller and of Winterbourne the power of the. The question of performativity raised by Judith Butler would be crucial for iron cage of modernity that the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. understanding the nature of the judgments Winterbourne passes on Daisy have created for us 123 This Protestant ethic turns out to be too inflexible. e x a m l e at, a party Daisy says performatively If this is improper Mrs to deal with the complexities of a place like Rome It maintains the purity of. Walker then I am all improper and you must give me up 93 Her dec Winterbourne s wintry soul only at the cost of losing the world represented. laration makes her improper On page 109 comes a particularly important by Daisy s brief flowering. series of performative statements from Daisy I a m engaged from Winter I close my lecture by suggesting that various themes reappear from one. bourne Yes I believe it then from Daisy again Oh no you don t group of imagined critics to another the psychoanalyst shares something with. Well then I am not I recommend to my students J L Austin s How to Do the moralist the new historicist with the old historicist the queer theorist. Things with Words as the background to Butler s article Imitation and Gen with the old expressive critic the deconstructor with the New Critic When. der Insubordination Richter 1514 25 the British protagonist of Lodge s novel Phillip Swallow meets up with Morris. I conclude our tour of critical schools with a comment on new historicism Zapp again in the sequel Small World set ten years later in 1979 Zapp has. The most easily anticipated new historicist approach would probably involve rethought his project of producing exhaustive commentary on all Jane Austen s. exploring the discourse of women s innocence in the late nineteenth century work As he explains in a lecture at a poorly attended conference. e r h a p finding, s a girl or young woman who actually died in Rome on vacation. and comparing her story with Daisy Miller s and preferably associating both Of course I never finished that project The project was not so much. with the history of the Italian risorgimento or urban sanitation in papal Rome Utopian as self defeating By that I don t just mean that if successful it. Closely related to the new historicist interpretation would be the possibility would have eventually put us all out of business I mean that it couldn t. of a Foucauldian treatment of the problem of discipline by way of the state succeed because it isn t possible and it isn t possible because of the. ment that Mrs Miller was apparently constantly of the opinion that discretion nature of language itself in which meaning is constantly being trans. is the better part of surveillance 101 The story tells of the consequences ferred from one signifier to another and can never be absolutely pos. of Daisy s failure to internalize the norms of young womanhood sessed To understand a message is to decode it Language is a code. Another quasi new historicist or cultural studies reading would focus on the But every decoding is another encoding 25. 110 TEACHING THEORY, I hope that by giving a tour of potential theoretical readings of Daisy Miller. I suggest to my students how much each theoretical decoding offers another. Teaching The Turn of the Screw,possible encoding andlas Literary Theory. The students themselves find ways to read the story that I never anticipated. In their papers for the class they have taken up some of my suggestions and. Sheila Teahan, found applications of their own They have written about the text s decon.
struction of its own binary oppositions the performative definition of inno I am sometimes asked especially by colleagues at my institution whether and. cence the Marxist categories of reification and alienation in respect to the how I attempt to teach Henry James to undergraduates I teach at a large. capital off which Daisy and her family live the construction of Daisy as an land grant state university and the students I encounter at every level from. object of exchange in a homosocial paradigm Winterbourne as psychoanalyst the introduction to the major through advanced upper division courses vary. and the problem of objectivity in interpretation One student drawing on the dramatically in their academic preparedness and motivation This mix would. work of Wolfgang Iser argued that Daisy s charm for Winterbourne is the seem unpromising given James s reputation for being difficult Happily stu. very fact that she eludes his understanding Fishbach 8 Some of the most dents have few preconceptions about James If they haven t been forewarned. interesting papers explore the limits of the theories that they set out to apply that he is too hard to read or that they shouldn t like him because of his. At semester s end I leave the students with a reminder of Hans Georg Gad alleged class or gender politics they respond to his work in ways that are. amer s hermeneutic circle Richter 671 and the thought that any encounter lively intelligent and heuristically productive Among the many James novels. with a text especially one as rich as a James story should not simply reinforce I have taught with some success and considerable benefit to my students The. our existing theoretical presuppositions but should challenge them As Gad Turn of the Screw especially lends itself to multiple pedagogical agendas Al. amer writes the challenge of interpretation is to distinguish the true preju though a late James work it does not present the formidable linguistic and. dices by which we understand from the false ones by which we misunder epistemological barriers of the triad of novels The Ambassadors The Wings. stand 683 of the Dove and The Golden Bowl Its style and length make it accessible to. literature students at every level Best of all students find it intriguing The. Turn of the Screw will kindle controversy and spirited debate even in the. quietest and most passive group, Although much of what follows would apply to teaching The Turn of the. Screw in avariety of courses I focus on the challenges and benefits of teaching. it in the context of literary theory Anyone who has taught theory to under. graduates b o w s that their responses to it range from exhilaration to indig. nation Not without reason they tend to perceive theory as technical abstract. and laden with scary sounding terminology such as hermeneutics and he. gemony When teaching our semester long course Modem Critical Theory. but even when including a modest unit of theory in a course that introduces. the major I have found that the best strategy is to teach a number of literary. works alongside the assigned theoretical texts I put these terms in quota. tion marks to register the ultimate instability of the ontological distinction. between literature and theory since all literary works are demonstrably the. oretical and theoretical texts are nothing if not narratives Students may ini. tially be disconcerted to hear their instructor call into question the distinction. on which the conceptualization of theory seems to depend but they find it. reassuring to reahze that literary theory is always an attempt to tell a story of. some kind about the nature of representation the status of beginnings and. dings the text s relation to its historical moment and the like It may be. less reassuring for them to realize that poems and novels are at least covertly. theoretical but I try to accentuate the positive Because it so insistently.


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