Degree Year

2006

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

Advisor(s)

T.S. McMillin

Keywords

Prose, Literature, Henry David Thoreau, Journal

Abstract

The real question at hand with the study of any work of prose literature is not related at all to the textual contents-the who, the what and the how that comprise its narrative-but the why. The attempt to understand the reasons behind the events described is often undergone in conjunction with a degree of considering the author's own role or purpose in the given written endeavor. These considerations are framed in their relationship to the reader, forcing the reader to become an active participant in something which amounts to an interaction with a text. This three-step process is, at bottom, the process by which an academic studies a written work. It describes the fundamental relation of author-to-text-to-reader, and leads to one idea: at bottom, the purpose for studying a literary work is not merely to reflect upon the text itself, but the text in relation to whoever is studying it. When a reader considers the text in relation to himself, what the reader is implicitly doing is examining himself in relation to a larger meaning, a meaning which is derived from recognition of this larger system created in the relationship between text and reader.

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