Sunday, September 21, 2014

Why Reception History?

As a follow-up post to the one I wrote about my honors seminar on the reception history of the parables, I want to include some quotes that I will list at the top of the course's syllabus. These quotes help to illustrate the philosophical foundation of my approach to Reception History (primarily indebted to Mikhail Bakhtin)--and why I do reception history in the first place:

[1] Truth is not born nor is it to be found inside the head of an individual person, it is born between people collectively searching for truth, in the process of their dialogic interaction.
[2] For what is historical scholarship, if not an ongoing conversation about the past in which no one has the last word.
[3] The question to ask of pictures from the standpoint of poetics is not just what they mean or what they do but what they want—what claim they make upon us, and how we are to respond.
[4] I have to answer with my own life for what I have experienced and understood in art, so that everything I have experienced and understood would not remain ineffectual in my life.
[5] There should be a responsive and responsible ethical moment in the act of reading, including a responsibility that leads to action in social, political, and institutional realms. Interpreters have a responsibility to texts and authors, to students and colleagues, and to society at large.  [Note: this is my paraphrase from an article I wrote; I will look up the exact quote]
[6] . . . parables in their polyvalency, to an extent foresee and anticipate our responses; Jesus created them with one ear already attuned to our answers. Parables, therefore are profoundly dialogic and do not pretend to be the last word, because, in parable, the last word is continually granted to others . . . .

[1] Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 110.

[2] Gerd Theissen, The Shadow of the Galilean: The Quest of the Historical Jesus in Narrative Form (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1987), 55.


[3] W. J. T. Mitchell, What Pictures Want: The Lives and Loves of Pictures (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005), xv.

[4] Mikhail Bakhtin, Art and Answerability: Early Philosophical Essays by M. M. Bakhtin (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990), 1.

[5] See J. Hillis Miller, The Ethics of Reading (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), 4–5.

[6] David B. Gowler, What Are They Saying About the Parables? (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2000), 103.

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I will be speaking at "The Prodigal: A Curated Experience of Art and Scripture" in Edmonton

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