10/16 – ASP Chapter 1 Practice Seminar

Today we’ll have a “practice” seminar over Chapter 1. This will not be a graded seminar; it will be graded like a regular discussion. Instead the idea is to get a sense of how the seminar will work.

We’ll also have presentations from our “Everything is about Sex…” and “Except Sex” chapters in Foster.

In a nutshell, here are Foster’s points:

The key idea from this chapter is that “scenes in which sex is coded rather than explicit can work at multiple levels and sometimes be more intense that literal depictions” (141). In other words, sex is often suggested with much more art and effort than it is described, and, if the author is doing his job, it reflects and creates theme or character.

It’s All About Sex…

  1. Female symbols: chalice, Holy Grail, bowls, rolling landscape, empty vessels waiting to be filled, tunnels, images of fertility, locks
  2. Male symbols: blade, tall buildings, sword, keys, monuments, trees
  3. Metaphorical resonance with intercourse: wrestling, waves/beaches, stairs, falling down stairs
  4. Why?
    1. Before mid 20th c., coded sex avoided censorship
    2. Can function on multiple levels; can be more intense than literal descriptions.

…Except Sex.

When literary authors DO write *directly* about sex, they’re writing about something else, such as sacrifice, submission, rebellion, supplication, domination, enlightenment, etc. Often the quality of the intimate interaction tells us a lot about the quality of the relationship, a lot like communion/meals.


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