Addressing the discussion we had on social commentary and novels, I have a somewhat difficult to articulate point. I tend to be all for the idea of not forcing an interpretation onto a text; just get me started on “Death of the Author” at some point and you’ll witness me unleashing my mighty viking fury. That said, I think there is a lot to be said for unintentional subtext, while still respecting the author’s initial point. One student in class mentioned the preponderance of poor people in sci-fi, fighting amongst each other or against an oppressor. They said that they felt that the authors may not have intended a social commentary in each text, and I think this is true, and it is certainly not my will to impose upon the author, for it is their art. That said, I feel that this would certainly constitute an inadvertent social commentary, as the author did not pull the concept of strife in poverty from thin air. In short, without meaning to do so, or deliberately in many cases, the author has recreated an aspect of society which they’ve previously observed, rendering the text at the very least an observation, if not an actual commentary.
On a slightly different note:
I think that when reading a novel, individuals should be aware of the potential for social critique, regardless of genre. As one of the Capstone presentations noted tonight: just because it isn’t serious doesn’t mean it’s not insightful. (This could likely be applied to our discussion of happy vs tragic endings as well, come to think of it.) Novels of all sorts provide a wealth of unique perspectives and approaches to societal problems. Above all else, this class has taught me to explore new fields of literature and therein find meaning, and this is a truly valuable lesson. For me, it means straying from fantasy and sci-fi, but for others it may mean diving into those very fields. I have no apt words to close this post, only shall I say that it has been an honor and privilege to study alongside you all.