A complete analysis of the postmodern debate on authorial intention
Intention and Interpretation
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edited by Gary Iseminger
"What is the connection, if any, between the author's intentions in (while) writing a work of literature and the truth (acceptability, validity) of interpretive statements about it?" With this question, Gary Isminger introduces a literary debate that has been waged for the past four decades and is addressed by philosophers and literary theorists in Intention and Interpretation.
Thirteen essays discuss the role of appeals to the author's intention in interpreting works of literature. A well-known argument by E.D. Hirsch serves as the basic text, in which he defends the appeal to the author's intention against Wimsatt and Beardsley's claim that such an appeal involved "the intentional fallacy." The essays, mostly commissioned by the editor, explore the presuppositions and consequences of arguing for the importance of the author's intentions in the way Hirsch does. Connections emerge between this issue and many fundamental issues in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind as well as in aesthetics.
The (old) "New Criticism" and current Post-Structuralism tend to agree in disenfranchising the author, and many people now are disinclined even to consider the alternative. Hirsch demurs, and arguments like his deserve the careful attention, both from critics and sympathizers, that they receive here.
Literary scholars and philosophers who are sympathetic to Continental as well as to Anglo-American styles of philosophy are among the contributors.
"This is a timely book appearing as it does when postmodernist views of the death of the author are disappearing quickly from the scene. As a collection it exemplifies the best work that is being done on this problem at the moment, and it will no doubt inspire further debate."
"[T]his volume contains important articles illuminating the central debate over the role and relevance of authorial intentions in literary interoperation."
Contributors: E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Monroe C. Beardsley, Joseph Margolis, Steven Knapp, Walter Benn Michaels, Richard Schusterman, Noël Carroll, Colin Lyas, Michael Krausz, Daniel O. Nathan, Göran Hermerén, Jerrold Levinson, and the editor.
In the series
The Arts and Their Philosophies, edited by Joseph Margolis.
The volumes in The Arts and Their Philosophies, edited by Joseph Margolis, include: overviews of such well-defined sub-disciplines as the philosophy of music, film, and literature; studies of important figures, schools, and movements; monographs on such topics as postmodernism, texts and interpretation, reference in fiction, and the methodology of art history; explorations of the intersection of the arts and other disciplines, such as feminism and interpretation, art and politics; and translations of major works.