The Text, the Poem, and the Problem of Historical Method

Jerome J. McGann

in The Beauty of Inflections

Published in print August 1988 | ISBN: 9780198117506
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191670961 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

The Text, the Poem, and the Problem of Historical Method

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According to the classic formulation of Roman Jakobson, poetics may be regarded as an integral part of linguistics. This idea of the poem as verbal object is so commonplace in modern criticism that one may seem perverse to question it. Still one must do so, for the ‘problem of historical method’ — whether ones approach it from an ‘intrinsic’ or an ‘extrinsic’ point of view — will never be opened to solutions until one sees one of the signal failures of modern criticism: its inability to distinguish clearly between a concept of the poem and a concept of the text. If the poetic work is understood either as a cultural experience or a cultural event, its special structures of uniqueness must be consciously graphed, at some level, in socio-historical terms.

Keywords: literary criticism; extrinsic criticism; poetry; historical criticism; Roman Jakobson; poetics

Chapter.  8982 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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