Choosing a text or an approach was not an easy task, especially because I sort of enjoyed reading many of the articles assigned in class. However, for my final paper I decided to combine two fields of study: Literary Theory and Latin American Studies.
In my essay I'd like to explore not the role of the reader but the construction of the reader as a predisposed subject who interprets 'the object of study' based on what s/he has been taught about that object. By 'predisposed subject' I mean that the interpretation of the reader is produced by what Stanley E. Fish calls interpretative communities which each one of them hold a particular ideology. Fish defines this concept in the following way:
Interpretative communities are made up of those who share interpretive strategies not for reading (in the conventional sense) but for writing texts, for constituting their properties and assigning their intentions. In other words these strategies exist prior to the act of reading and therefore determine the shape of what is read rather than, as is usually assumed, the other way around.
Considering the tight relationship between reader and writer, I am planning on using Foucault's essay What is an Author? to explore the role of the author is today's culture. Also I would like to use his article titled “disciplines and sciences of the individual”. Since I plan to mention the notion of ideology, I thought of including Althusser's essay.
As I mentioned above, in my paper I am combining literary theory with Latin American Studies. And in regard to the second one, I decided to focus on the political project so-called Latin American Subaltern Studies. This project was formed in the 1990s by the Latin American Subaltern group located in the North American academia influenced by the Subaltern Studies group in India. The emergence of this group produced a great debate among intellectuals for many reasons: they were accused of 'disregarding specificities of Latin America' by using a theory developed for other purposes; also, they were accused of using theory from places other then countries in Latin America; their theory was tagged by Latin American intellectuals as “traveling theory” ('teorías que nacen en cualquier lugar del mundo y se aplican aquí'), etc. This debate brought many things to question. We now have a latinamericanism from non-Latin Americans (metropolitan universities) and a Latinamericanism from Latin American (from Latin America).
As a reader, therefore, what does one first think about when s/he hears the term Latin America? And, Latin American Subaltern Studies? Is Latin America today seeing as the Orient was (is) seeing by (manly) Westerners (Orientalism)? How is the Latin American Subaltern group's ideology contributing to the construction of a vision? Are they representing, evoking or recreating? Is this group using the reader to perpetuate their vision?
Stanley E Fish claims that it's not the text that produces the reader; it's not the reader that produces the text, but it's the interpretative community that produces the reader who in turn produces the text.
The article then proposes a discussion on the construction of the reader who reads about Latin America. The article suggest that, although this might be only a political project, it will not only influence the vision of the person outside, but it will transform the local voices through this sort of polarized statement....
The texts I plan to study are “The Founding Statement” writing by this group and “Reading Subalterns Across Texts, Disciplines and Theories: From Representation to Recognition” by Rodriguez, another member of the group.
I know it sounds hard for me to do, but I think I could try.......