I'm taking a Japanese Literature course, and so many times I get frustrated and bored in the course because I don't see the kind of stuff that I think should be happening in a Literature course. In fact, I don't see the stuff that the teacher says should be happening in her course either.
The professor emphasized how literary analyses of the works we're reading should be based primarily on the text. I agree with this. I consider myself quite a literalist when it comes to analysis of literature, so I look at sentence structures, word and phrase choices, and just general linguistic elements in the work.
Today, one student in class was discussing about a story where some kid wanted to be like a bird and fly up and away and such. OK, all good and dandy, but then he was going on and on about some birdman in Chinese culture and mythology. OK, now where the shit is the relation to the text
? What's the feathered freak telling us about the work other than maybe the author had an inkling of a thought about some foul. Another analysis was talking about poems that kind of have themes similar to the story. OK, what does that do to help us understand the text better? Discussions about the meaning of certain black birds in different cultures ensued later, and I was thoroughly begaffled at the ridiculous pollution of ideas that could do nothing but make awkward assumptions about what the author may have thought.
Look, folks, literary works are timeless classics, right? There's no need for culture, or writers' backgrounds, or religious blibble here and there. All that's fine and dandy to add spice to your sugar, but you gotta fill your cup with some solid Joe that can thrive in any sort of context.
No one should need to be an intellectual snob with an over-used Google Search button to fully enjoy literature.