Monday, March 30, 2009
Jeanette Winterson: Art and Lies
I have actually read Jeanette Winterson's My Year of Meats already in another one of my English/women's studies classes, and it was very different. It was an interesting take on feminism and women's rights through a cross-cultural eye. Now, in this class, we will read Winterson with a genre/art focus.
As an English major, there is pretty much a canon of "great literature." I feel that I have gone through the "canon." The canon is when people sit down a decide and classify what THE GREAT LITERATURE really is. Our class agrees that we have all been taught the stereotypical canon. The "great literature" ignores "cultural studies." People, however, are becoming aware of the canon, and it can be pretty prejudice. It is subjective to the people who create the infamous canon. Nowadays, in many liberal arts education, they are trying to fulfill the cultural requirements.
Cultural studies implies that there is NO "great art." What makes art great and why? Greatness is far too narrowly defined. Perhaps we are all great artists. When people read and enjoy what they're reading, they are really seeing thier own "alienated majesty" through another artist. It is a way of loving ourself without loving ourselves directly. It's like we're projecting our great qualities onto someone else.
When we fall under the foreign language of literature, we are doing ourselves a disservice by thinking what we're reading is "weird" or "strange." It's comparable to being in a foreign country and not understanding their language, but also thinking that they are wrong for not speaking your own native tounge.
Jeanette Winterson's art can be viewed as extremely sexual, perhaps disturbing to some. I remember her last novel, My Year of Meats was the same way. It's important for us to view this as art!