Friday, November 27, 2015

Die Disziplinen der Lernenden Organisation - Systemtheorie

Die Disziplinen der lernenden Organisation

Vorwort

Dies ist der erste Teil einer Reihe von Beiträgen zum Thema "lernender Organisationen." Diese Beiträge basieren auf meiner Schwerpunktarbeit aus dem Jahr 2010 die ich im Rahmen der Matura an der HTL Grieskirchen erstellt habe. Diese Schwerpunktarbeit basiert wiederrum auf dem Buch Die fünfte Disziplin von Peter M. Senge.

Systemdenken 

In unserer Umwelt sind uns systemische Zusammenhänge durchaus bekannt. Wenn ein Gewitter aufzieht, ist es uns klar, dass sich die Wolken aus der verdunsteten und aufsteigenden Feuchtigkeit zusammengesetzt haben. Wir wissen auch, dass der bevorstehende Regen sich seinen Weg ins Grundwasser bahnen wird. Ein Teil davon wird Flüsse speisen die schließlich ins Meer münden. Diese Zusammenhänge erscheinen trivial, doch sind sie auf Grund des zeitlichen Abständes nicht unbedingt offenkundig. Organisationen sind genau wie unser Klima Systeme die mit anderen Systeme interagieren und durch eine vielzahl komplexer Zusammenhänge gekennzeichnet sind. Das Denken in systemischen Gesetzmäßigkeiten und Zusammenhängen, ist die grundlegendste aller Disziplinen.

Personal Mastery 

Personal Mastery ist die Disziplin der Selbstführung und Persönlichkeitsentwicklung. Grundlage für die Persönlichkeitsentwicklung ist eine klares Ziel, eine Vision dessen Schwerpunktarbeit: wohin man sich entwickeln möchte. Da sich unsere Prioritäten ändern, muss die Vision permanent geprüft und weiter entwickelt werden. Die Personal Mastery ist ein sehr wichtiger Bestandteil der lernenden Organisation, sie ist die geistige Grundlage. Die Leistungsfähigkeit einer Organisation kann nur so hoch sein wie dier Leistungsfähigkeit ihrer Mitglieder. Deshalb ist es von großer Wichtigkeit die Persönlichkeitsentwicklung zu fördern.

Mentale Modelle

Mentale Modelle sind geistige Gebilde die maßgebend dafür sind wie wir unsere Umwelt warnehmen und beurteilen. Sie sind unsere tiefgehenden, meist verborgenen Ansichten die auch Grundlage für unsere Entscheidungen bilden. Wenn jemand eine attraktive Junge Frau sieht, die aufreizend gekleidet ist, so mag der eine sie vielleicht für oberflächlich halten. Eine andere Person könnte genau die selbe Frau jedoch für besonders Selbstbewusst halten. Wie auch immer man denkt, es ist von den eigenen Mentalen Modellen abhängig. Mentale Modelle begegnen uns allerdings auch in Unternehmen. Bei Führungskräften können sie unter anderem Beeinflussen welche Alternativen einer Entscheidung überhaupt erst erkannt und in betracht gezogen werden. Ganze neue Marktzweige können übersehen werden, wenn sie im Widerspruch zu Mentalen Modellen stehen, die noch dazu von vielen Personen in der Organisation geteilt werden. Es ist daher sehr wichtig diese Modelle sichtbar zu machen und zu hinterfragen.

Eine gemeinsame Vision entwickeln 

Die Idee einer gemeinsamen Vision ist wohl eine seit ewig bekannte Führungsidee. Auch für alle erfolgreichen Firmen der letzten Jahrzenten war eine gemeinsame Vision sehr entscheidend. Bei Toyota, einem der erfolgreichsten Unternehmen und derzeit dem größten Autohersteller lautet diese: “To sustain profitable growth by providing the best customer experience and dealer support.” Für Google ist es das ambitioniert und für manche wohl auch beängstigende Ziel alle Informationen, jedem überall und zu jederzeit zugänglich zu machen.Auch bekannt als “Google Masterplan“. Falls so ein Vision existiert, und sie tatsächlich auch die Vision der Mitarbeiter ist, dann spornt sie diese zu großen Leistungen an. Menschen entwickeln eine unglaubliche Motivation und Leistungsbereitschaft wenn sie für eine größere Sache an die sie glauben arbeiten. Aber nicht nur das, es ist auch eine nahezu unerschöpfliche Quelle der Energie, die für nachhaltige Leistung sorgt.

Team-Lernen 

Es gibt das Phänomen, dass die Intelligenz eines Teams deutlich unter der Intelligenz seiner Mitglieder bleibt. Verantwortlich dafür ist das sich die Mitglieder nicht vollständig auf das Team einlassen und versuchen ihre eigenen Ideen unabhängig von der Meinung des Teams durchzusetzen. Das so etwas nicht besonders erfolgreich sein kann, legt bereits das Sprichwort “Zu viele Köche verderben den Brei.” nahe. Es ist aber durchaus möglich, dass ein Team sein potenzial Entfaltet und zu einer deutlich höheren Leistungs- und Lernfähigkeit gelangt als dies den einzelnen Mitgliedern alleine mögliche wäre. Wichtig dafür ist ein echter Dialog zwischen den einzelnen Teammitgliedern. Bei dem diese ihre Gedanken frei ausstauschen können und nicht darauf bedacht sind einfach ihre Meinung durchzusetzen. Sondern ihre Meinungen, Wissen und Ansichten mit denen der anderen Mitglieder zu einem kollektiven Bewusstsein verschmelzen zu lassen.

Ausblick

Nächste Woche folgt ein Artikel  zum Thema "Lernhemmnisse". Dieser Artikel wird sich häufigen Probleme widmen die eine Organisation daran hinden eine funktionierende lernende Organisation zu sein.

Quelle:

Die fünfte Disziplin: Kunst und Praxis der lernenden Organisation (Systemisches Management)




Friday, October 2, 2015

The Philosophy of Rhetoric (Campbell)

                                        

Introduction

This paper aims to the explain the most important arguments George Campbell presented in the chapters VII - IX of his book The Philosophy of Rhetoric. All arguments are clearly and objectively represented. In doubt brevity will be given precedence over artistry of expression. Quotes from the original book are integrated in the paper in order to display the qualities of language in the original piece. The chapters to be discussed are: Of the Consideration which the Speaker Ought to Have of the Hearer as a Man in General,  Of the Consideration which the Speaker Ought to Have of the Hearer as a Man, as Such Men in Particular, and  Of the Consideration which the Speaker Ought to Have of Himself.

Of the Consideration which the Speaker Ought to Have of the Hearer as a Man in General

Rhetoric must always consider the subject, the speaker, and the hearers. The hearers must be considered in two different ways. First, as men in general. Second, as specific men in particular. Certain aspects of the nature of men in general can, if aptly addressed, be used to considerably promote belief. Some may view this practice with suspicion and call it deception; but, it is usually unobjectionable and often even necessary. Men are not purely logical beings and thus are seldom moved by truthful arguments alone. According to Campbell the orator must address all of men’s mental capabilities: “If the orator would prove successful, it is necessary that he engage in his service all these different powers of the mind, the imagination, the memory, and the passions.” (94)

Every orator must first seek to be understood. If the orator should fail this task, the problem can stem from the sense or the expression of his arguments. Problems of understanding concerning the sense arise when the orator introduces ideas that do not connect with the hearers knowledge. The sense of the arguments may also be too abstract or the train of reasoning too long for the capacity of the hearers. These problems are about specific men in particular rather than men in general thus a closer examination will be deferred to a following chapter together with a discussion of problems stemming from expression.

When an orator has successfully explained his arguments he must strive to grab the hearers attention. Without attention the orator can never hope to achieve any effect on the hearers. To achieve lasting attention the orator has to engage the hearers imagination in a pleasing manner. Although this aim is already tremendously important kindling the hearers imagination does achieve another, perhaps even more important, purpose. Imagination enlivens ideas and Campbell states that “[...] lively ideas have a stronger influence than faint ideas to induce belief.”(97) Although this does not mean that an idea is automatically believed just due to its liveliness. Poetry is generally much more lively than the accounts of historians but not more believable.

Lively ideas do not only engage the imagination and convince, they are also more easily remembered. The successful orator must employ the hearers memory. The credibility of a fact is determined by the sum of the arguments presented to support it. When the orator introduces a range of arguments he must take care that the presentation of a new argument does not discard the already presented arguments from the hearers memory and thus mind. This can be achieved by adherence to the laws of composition. Causation can be used to link two succeeding ideas together by presenting them as cause and effect. Other tools, which the orator may use to strengthen the remembrance, are order in place and time. The effect of order in place is further enhanced by using regular figures. Proper order in time should give proximity to ideas that are similar to each other or related by cause or other affiliations. Even more can be done to to approach human memory in a most efficient and effective way as Campbell says “[...] there are some parts of the discourse, as well as figures of speech, peculiarly adapted to this end. Such are the division of the subject, the rhetorical repetitions of every kind, the different modes of transition and recapitulation.”(99).

The last power of the mind now to be discussed is passion. Addressing passion is perhaps an orators most effective weapon but also the most controversial. It has to be stressed that despite all controversies addressing passion is essential if the orator is to be successful. Campbell stresses this fact when he says “To say that it is possible to persuade without speaking to the passions, is but, at best, a kind of specious nonsense. The coolest reasoner always, in persuading, addresseth himself to the passions some way or other.”  (99) There are many passions one can choose to address, i.e.: pride, self-love, patriotism, pity, etc.

Although kindling passions is necessary and powerful it is usually not sufficient for persuasion. Solely relying on pathos and thus only addressing the passions is not only inglorious but usually ineffective. Because wise hearers would not be persuaded by an orator unless he could also provide argumentative support. Only ignorant people may be convinced by pathos alone. They might not require argumentative proof linking their inflamed passions to some definite course of action that ought be taken to extinguish the flames. Instead they might be satisfied solely by the orators claim that such a connection exists and a certain course of action is thus advisable.

Pure logical reasoning without consideration of passions is less vile than the opposite but perhaps even more futile. If an orator would speak in such a way his hearers may perfectly well be aware of the truth in his reasoning and arguments. But there is no reason for them to act upon. As the orator completely failed to address their passions, they can not see how whatever the orator has shown relates to them. They can not see why they should care about it and consequently they can not be convinced to take any definite course of action.

In order to convince successfully both the pathetic and the argumentative have to work together. Campbell explained this fact as well the respective aims perfectly when he said “Good is the object of the will, truth is the object of the understanding.” (101) The pathetic must be used to awaken the will for action in the hearers hearts. To achieve this, the orator must convince the hearers that what he wants them to do is good. The argumentative must be used to create understanding in the hearers minds. To achieve this, the orator must convince the hearers that his arguments are true.

Addressing virtues is another way for the orator to convince his hearers. They are different from passions but also similar in many ways. A person which has a certain passion or virtue may for example detest a certain behaviour or admire a certain group of people because of it. In this way virtues are like passions as they can be used to promote action in the hearers. Relying solely on addressing virtues is called sentimental thus distinguishing it from the pathetic.

When an orator wants to convince his hearers he must not only kindle those passions and dispositions favourable to his aim but also appease those opposing his aim. To raise passions the orator can employ seven circumstances. Campbell states that those are: “[...] probability, plausibility, importance, proximity of time, connexion of place, relation of the actors or sufferers to the hearers or speaker, interest of the hearers or speaker in the consequences.”(104)

Probability:  Probability kindles passions, lack of probability extinguishes passions. Probability, regardless of it being real or only perceived, induces belief and in its highest form even certainty.

Plausibility: Although related plausibility is clearly distinct from probability.  The former chiefly stems from a consistent narrative.  Something that is implausible for example due to inconsistency can hardly be considered probable. Whereas poetry supplies us with a vast amount of proof that a plausible albeit not probable narrative may be constructed. Campbell says about the relationship between probability and plausibility that “The former is the aim of the historian, the latter of the poet.” (105)

Importance:  When hearers perceive an idea as important it will have a greater effect on them. When the idea is concerned with physical objects importance may be created through great quality or quantity of the discussed matter. Importance can be created by novelty of an idea itself. Or by the actions or sufferings of people described the idea. The importance may also be created by the consequence of the idea.

The following four circumstance all derive their power purely from the connection with the self of the hearers or the speaker. The self is incredibly powerful and important as Campbell aptly explains with the following simile: “Self is the centre here, which hath a similar power in the ideal world to that of the sun in the real world, in communicating both light and heat to whatever is in the sphere of its activity, and in a greater or less degree, according to nearness or remoteness.” (109)

Proximity of Time: It is obvious that tragedies that happened more recently generally touch people stronger than those which happened a long time ago. It is the same with the future as it is with the past. Events that are predicted to happen in the near future  touch people stronger than those which will happen in the distant future.

Connexion of Place: The Connexion of Place is similar in most ways to the Proximity of Time because place and time are similar themselves. They do differ in that, that Connexion of Place is usually regarded as more imminent and thus more agitating than Proximity of Time.

Relation to the Persons concerned: Because people, not places or times, are the direct targets of humans passions personal relations are even more influential than Connexion of Place. Although, of course, the impact of the personal relation completely depends upon the exact nature of the relation itself. Thus it will usually startle hearers much more strongly when their family relations are mentioned by  the orator as compared to, for example, just someone from the same country.

Interest in the Consequences: Interest in the effects is the last connection introduced by Campbell and he considers it to be the strongest, he explains why by saying that: “[...] interest in the effects brings the object [...] into contact with us, and makes the mind cling to it as a concern on its own.”(112) Her further explicitly states that it is stronger than sympathy because sympathy is “[...] but a reflected feeling, and therefore,  in ordinary cases, must be weaker than the original”. (112)

Once a passion has been raised using the circumstances described above the narrator must aim to keep it alive and make it even stronger. The orator can call upon other passions or dispositions as auxiliaries to support the one he just inflamed. Certain passions are especially suited for this purpose. A sense of justice is the most effective one. Honor, glory, a sense of public utility, tales of sages, etc. can also be fruitfully employed in this endeavour.

It has been explored how to raise and strengthen favourable passions now it will be examined how to settle opposing passions. There are fundamentally two different approaches to settle opposing passions. First, the orator can directly attack the opposing passion. It can be weakened by the opposite of what gives raise to passions. Thus: improbability, implausibility, insignificance, distance of time, remoteness of place, the persons concerned such as we have no connection with, the consequences such as we have no interest in them. Second, the orator can try to divert the hearers attention by trying to indulge them in other passions which do not strengthen the opposing one.

Of the Consideration which the Speaker Ought to Have of the Hearers, as Such Men in Particular

The consideration of men in general has finally been sufficiently explained. As announced the orators considerations of men in particular will now be discussed. This concept is simple. Its meaning is that the speaker must, if he wants to succeeded, be aware that his audience is constituted by a variety of people with specific moral, intellectual, and habitual properties. People within an audience may greatly differ in those properties as may different audiences.

        It is especially important how the audience in general feels towards the orator. When confronted with a hostile audience the orator must proceed cautiously. He must introduce his arguments slowly and carefully and it might even be necessary to admit failure in past opinions or actions so that the sympathy of the audience might be regained.

Of the Consideration which the Speaker Ought to Have of Himself

The last but not least important consideration is the consideration the speaker ought to have of himself. The importance of sympathy has been mentioned in the previous chapter. From this we can conclude that anything that tempers sympathy must directly reduce the orators effectiveness in pursuing his aims.

        A wide variety of factors may negatively impact the orator’s sympathy but the two factors chiefly responsible are a perceived lack of intelligence and a bad moral reputation. Of these two the latter is usually the most harmful to the orators sympathy. This is because men seldom fear to be deceived by someone with a weak mind. Someone with a wicked character is certainly perceived as much more dangerous.

        In order to keep  a good reputation and thus the audience’s sympathy the orator must be a good man. Because if he is not it is possible, no matter how careful he tries to hide his misconduct, that it surfaces and destroys his reputation and sympathies.

        An orator might also be confronted with unjust lack of sympathy. Especially rude and uneducated people are prone to prejudice. Thus the orator might be disregarded simply because of his national, religious or political affiliations completely ignoring his personal conduct. While this is clearly unfair it can not be completely avoided as even the most wise and best educated people are still not immune to prejudice.

Bibliography:

  Campbell, George. The Philosophy of Rhetoric. New York, United States: Harper                                                                                                                              Publishing, 1868. Print.

                                                                        

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Elizabeth Bowen’s “The Demon Lover”

Elizabeth Bowen’s “The Demon Lover”
In this analysis we will take a look at the creation of suspense, the possibility of different interpretations, and how an unusual understanding of the word demon might help to access a deeper meaning.
Suspense is achieved with the help of at least five different devices, namely word choice, setting, the order of the plot and a mysterious event. The authoress utilizes vocabulary with connotations of fear and terror.  Instances of such words are “dead air”(661)  or “claw marks”(661)  and “nohuman eye”(661). Terror might be caused by the latter one when the reader realizes the possible implication of her being watched by some kind of non-human creature.  The setting itself seems gloomy and uneasy. Such a mood is achieved by descriptions of destruction as in “broken chimneys and parapets stood out”(661)  or “There were some cracks in the structure, left by the last bombing”(661). The plot starts in the middle of the story and then continues chronologically after a flashback. With this perplexing flashback suspension is created in two ways. First, all the new and completely unexpected information makes the reader wonder what else might happen. Second, because the reader wants to know how the mysterious event develops further. This mysterious event is, of course, the appearance of the letter. “She stopped dead and stared at the hall table – on this lay a letter addressed to her”(662) The (possibly) supernatural nature of the letter appearing becomes explicit  in “On the supernatural side of the letter’s entrance she was not permitting her mind to dwell”(664.  Word choice, plot, setting and the mysterious event are used together to create suspension.
The text allows a variety of different interpretations. An interesting metaphorical interpretation of the text is to see Mrs. Drover’s demon lover as an image for her suppressed desires. If one wants to follow this interpretation several passages of the text can be interpreted in a way supporting it.  “The young girl talking to the soldier in the garden had not ever completely seen his face”(663) for example. It is possible to argue that the lack of her being able to see is face is due to “his” lack of a face. Further support for this claim can be drawn from the statement later in the text “under no conditions could she remember his face” (665). It seems unlikely that Mrs. Drover could forget the face of a person she was going to marry. Metaphorical interpretations of the text are possible and clues for them can be found.    The term “Demon” occurring in the short stories title deserves thorough investigation for possible meanings. The most obvious meaning is some kind of monster with diabolical characteristics. While this is a perfectly reasonable way it is interesting and gives us new ways of the understanding when we look at the etymology of the word and the concept of demons.Demon from Latin daemon meaning “spirit” could also describe an abstract concept as opposed to concrete evil creature. In Tibetan Buddhism for example demons play an important role, originally in a highly abstracted way. The concept of demons was used to visualize the hindrances to enlightenment. Demons of greed for example have been pictured as beings with a small mouth and big stomach which would always be hungry. This is a very vivid explanation of greed but not one of an actual creature. In the same manner it is possible to think of the demon lover as visualization of a concept. Namely sensual desire, sensual with which Mrs. Drover did never truly deal (she did not face it) and which is therefore now coming back. Seeing the demon lover as a concept enables us to interpret the text as the story of a returning neglected sensual desire.
We have now seen that word choice, setting, the order of the plot and the mysterious event in combination create the suspension. We have examined that the text, as is every piece of literature, is open to a variety of different interpretations. Last we looked about how treating the demon lover as a concept rather than a being alters and possibly enhances the meaning of the text.
Bibliography:
Elizabeth, Bowen. “The Demon Lover”. The Collected Stories. New York: Vintage Books,1982. 661-666

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


How to Write a Good Research Paper     


In  The Art of Literary Research  Richard Daniel Altick states that “All literary students are dedicated to the same task, the discovery of truth.”. (3) This essay aims to present useful information for tackling such an ambitious undertaking. It is not possible to deal comprehensively with all involved topics within the scope of this essay; therefore it only presents a quick overview and small selection of useful hints.  Among the topics discussed are finding a research topic, style and plagiarism. Below follows a short introduction to several concepts important for writing research papers.
The first step in the production of a research paper is to find a suitable topic. The decision making process should be guided primarily by the personal interests of the researcher. Other factors, such as the availability of information on the topic and its complexity cannot be ignored.  During writing, as the scope of the topic gets clearer, it can be refined.  When deciding on a topic one’s own interests as well as external factors have to be considered.
Once a topic, a question, has been found the search for an answer must begin.  By the means of a hypothesis, a carefully formulated working assumption, one starts his journey from the question to the answer. It is important to keep in mind though, that the hypothesis is nothing but a tool. The literary researcher must not get emotionally attached to it for he has to seek only the truth, and therefore evidence both supporting and contradicting the hypothesis. The hypothesis is as useful tool but must not become self-purpose.
Reading frequently poses problems especially for beginning students. Often these problems are caused by the idea of reading as the passive act of absorbing information.  Viewing it instead as entering a dialogue with the material the problems tend to disappear. With this idea in mind one is much more likely to actively engage in reading, to ask questions and to develop own ideas. Reading should be viewed and practiced as an active act of communication rather than passive information consumption.
When looking for evidence it is important to analyze the quality of the sources. It should be obvious and yet it often is ignored that there are reliable and less reliable sources. The trustworthiness of different sources is especially important when contradictions occur. For beginning students it can be hard to determine wheter a source is reliable or not therefore they should be especially conscious of the quality of their sources and ask their professors when in doubt.  That sources differ in quality is a fact often overlooked by beginning students therefore they should be particularly critical.
Quality is not the only distinctive attribute of sources.  They divide into primary, secondary and tertiary sources. Primary texts are the main objects of study. For a literary student this could be “The Taming of the Shrew” by Shakespeare or any other piece of literature.  Secondary texts deal with primary texts, analyzing them and presenting conclusions.  Most academic writings belong to this category. Tertiary sources are mostly based on secondary sources. They omit controversies and tend to present well established authoritative opinions.  Course-books or handbooks are typical examples of tertiary texts. The distinction is not as clear cut as described here and might depend on what a researcher is interested in studying. There are primary sources, secondary sources which deal with primary texts, and tertiary sources which are mostly based on secondary texts.
The distinction between primary, secondary and tertiary sources is essential because it determines how the information needs to be treated.  Interpretations from secondary or tertiary sources should always be viewed more critical than primary evidence. Also it should be made visible when talking about an author’s interpretation using constructions like “Kant claims that …”. Information has to be treated and presented differently depending on the type of source it comes from.
Plagiarism is a problem for which recent events involving a certain German minister of defense have raised awareness.  The emergence of new technologies has made plagiarizing even easier and thus more tempting and more easily to be done unintentionally. To avoid such unfortunate accidents everything that is directly copied should always be put in quotations.  Also paraphrases should be checked not to be too similar to the original and not to contain any identical sentences.  In order not to forget to mention any sources it is recommendable to write the bibliography at the beginning of one’s work.  Plagiarism is a serious offence and effort should be me made to avoid it.
The most enlightened ideas when presented in an unfit manner will neither be recognized as such nor reward a student with high marks. Thus a pleasant and understandable style is crucial for the positive reception of academic writings. Although style is a subjective matter and allows for different tastes there is a set of widely accepted rules to which one should generally adhere. Most rules may sometimes be broken profitably but only advanced writers should take that option into account.  Since style is an important element in academic writing a small selection of guidelines is presented below.

A paragraph should directly correspond to one idea. It should start with a sentence stating the topic and end with a recap or important consequences. In most cases the active voice is more concise and easier to understand than its passive counterpart; therefore it should be preferred. Similarly positive statements are usually better comprehensible than negative ones.  Honoring the rule “Prefer the specific to the general, the definite to the vague, the concrete to the abstract.“ .(White 22)  will improve the quality of one's writing.Every sentence should be as such that it is not possible to remove a word without losing meaning.  A similarity of ideas should be reflected in form to make it easy to recognize for the reader. The stronger the relationship between words the closer they should appear together. To emphasize a word it should be put at the end of a sentence.                                                                                                               
The process of producing a research paper is not trivial and involves a variety of different activities and topics. This essay can barely scratch on the surface of those topics.  Introducing several important concepts and giving a few useful hints was what it aimed and hopefully succeeded to accomplish.  Those who want to know more can find excellent resources mentioned in the bibliography.



Bibliography:
Altick, Richard Daniel. The Art of Literary Research. New York: Norton, 1957.
Cook, Claire Kehrwald. Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1985.
Taylor, Gordon.  A Student’s Writing Guide:  How to Plan and Write Successful Essays.  Cambridge: University Press, 2009.
White, E.B. and Strunk Jr., William. The Elements of Style.4th ed.  New Jersey: Pearson Education Company,2000.
Young, Tory. Studying English Literature: A Practical Guide. Cambridge: University Press, 2008.


Feminist Criticism
Women – sources of inspiration. They could succeed in writing only when they were economically and financially independent.
ü  History of women’s writing:
-          Feminine phase (1840-80): women writers imitated dominant male artistic norms and aesthetic standards.
-          Feminist phase (1880-1920): radical and often separatist positions are maintained
-          Female phase (1920 onwards): focus on female writing and female experience
-          1960s: ‘women’s movement’
-          1970s: exposing the ‘mechanisms of patriarchy’
-          1980s: influence of Marxism, structuralism, linguistics etc.
ü  Feminist critics:
-          describing the history of women in terms of suppression by a patriarchal system;
-          distinguishing between natural (sex) and cultural/social (gender) attributes of womanhood;
-          gender is not biologically determined but depends on social agreements, codes, conventions, tacit assumptions and acknowledged expectations.
ü  Feminist criticism and language: a ‘man’s sentence’ - completely different from a ‘woman’s sentence’.
-          Hélène Cixous
·         écriture feminine ~ ‘female spelling’
·         associated with the feminine, and facilitating the free play of meanings within the framework of loosened grammatical structures
-          Julia Kristeva
·         2 different aspects of language, both of which are always present in any       
given sample
·         symbolic: authority, order, repression, control
·         symbiotic: displacement, slippage, condensation
·         bled off by Jacques Lacan´s distinction between the two realms of the Imaginary and the Symbolic
ü  Feminist criticism and psychoanalysis
-          Sandra Gilbert & Susan Gubar
·          idea of the ‘social castration’
·         signifies women´s lack of social power
ü  Feminist criticism and the role of theory:
-          ‘Anglo-American’ feminism:
·         Traditional critical concepts (theme, motif, and characterisation)
·         Use of historical data and non-literary material: diaries, memoirs, social and medical history etc.
·         Elaine Showalter, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Patricia Stubbs, and Rachel Brownstein
-          ‘French’ feminism:
·         More overtly theoretical -- often deals with language, representation, and psychology
·         Literary text is never primarily a representation of reality
·         Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous, and Luce Irigaray
ü  Feminist literary studies à revising the canon:
-          discovery and reprisal of writings by women that had been lost and forgotten;
·         Oxford Anthology of English Literature of 1973 – one female author (!)
·         Norton Anthology of 2006 – 26 women writers
-          analysis of the conditions of production, distribution, reception and transmission of female writing and exploration of the horizons of possibility and constrains that women authors were subject to
-          reading and re-evaluating literature (of male writes) from the point of view of women as readers.

ü  Poststructuralist feminism à concepts of gender-specific feminine language that escapes from the dominant, socially accepted, male-centered ways of expression.
ü  Gynocriticism à only women can speak for women (Elaine Showalter).
ü  Gender studies:
-          gender vs. sex à sex is biologically determined and generally associated with a certain gender. Gender is a set of cultural concepts about the role and behaviour of a sex.  Sex and gender need not to coincide
-          shift from essentialism to performativity: critics refused to view gender/sex as an essential factor of personal identity but instead look at it as subordination to social rules
-          Judith Butler – the person most connected to the reformation of feminism.  She developed a highly innovative concept of sex and gender.
ü  Queer theory:
-          Reflection on the role of sexuality in society and culture
-          Uncovering of how concepts of homosexuality / heterosexuality influence the production and reception of literature.
-          “queering” -> critical reading of “normal” social practices with intention to subvert established norms and prevent repression of deviant sexual practices 

Elizabeth Bowen's "The Demon Lover"
In this analysis we will take a look at the creation of suspense, the possibility of different interpretations, and how an unusual understanding of the word demon might help to access a deeper meaning.                                                                                                                  Suspense is achieved with the help of at least five different devices, namely word choice, setting, the order of the plot and a mysterious event. The authoress utilizes vocabulary with connotations of fear and terror.  Instances of such words are “dead air”(661)  or “claw marks”(661)  and “no human eye”(661). Terror might be caused by the latter one when the reader realizes the possible implication of her being watched by some kind of non-human creature.  The setting itself seems gloomy and uneasy. Such a mood is achieved by descriptions of destruction as in “broken chimneys and parapets stood out”(661)  or “There were some cracks in the structure, left by the last bombing”(661). The plot starts in the middle of the story and then continues chronologically after a flashback. With this perplexing flashback suspension is created in two ways. First, all the new and completely unexpected information makes the reader wonder what else might happen. Second, because the reader wants to know how the mysterious event develops further. This mysterious event is, of course, the appearance of the letter. “She stopped dead and stared at the hall table – on this lay a letter addressed to her”(662) The (possibly) supernatural nature of the letter appearing becomes explicit  in “On the supernatural side of the letter’s entrance she was not permitting her mind to dwell”(664.  Word choice, plot, setting and the mysterious event are used together to create suspension.                               The text allows a variety of different interpretations. An interesting metaphorical interpretation of the text is to see Mrs. Drover’s demon lover as an image for her suppressed desires. If one wants to follow this interpretation several passages of the text can be interpreted in a way supporting it.  “The young girl talking to the soldier in the garden had not ever completely seen his face”(663) for example. It is possible to argue that the lack of her being able to see is face is due to “his” lack of a face. Further support for this claim can be drawn from the statement later in the text “under no conditions could she remember his face” (665). It seems unlikely that Mrs. Drover could forget the face of a person she was going to marry. Metaphorical interpretations of the text are possible and clues for them can be found.    The term “Demon” occurring in the short stories title deserves thorough investigation for possible meanings. The most obvious meaning is some kind of monster with diabolical characteristics. While this is a perfectly reasonable way it is interesting and gives us new ways of the understanding when we look at the etymology of the word and the concept of demons. Demon from Latin daemon meaning “spirit” could also describe an abstract concept as opposed to concrete evil creature. In Tibetan Buddhism for example demons play an important role, originally in a highly abstracted way. The concept of demons was used to visualize the hindrances to enlightenment. Demons of greed for example have been pictured as beings with a small mouth and big stomach which would always be hungry. This is a very vivid explanation of greed but not one of an actual creature. In the same manner it is possible to think of the demon lover as visualization of a concept. Namely sensual desire, sensual with which Mrs. Drover did never truly deal (she did not face it) and which is therefore now coming back. Seeing the demon lover as a concept enables us to interpret the text as the story of a returning neglected sensual desire.
We have now seen that word choice, setting, the order of the plot and the mysterious event in combination create the suspension. We have examined that the text, as is every piece of literature, is open to a variety of different interpretations. Last we looked about how treating the demon lover as a concept rather than a being alters and possibly enhances the meaning of the text. 
Bibliography:
Elizabeth, Bowen. “The Demon Lover”. The Collected Stories. New York: Vintage                     Books,1982. 661-666