"Despite the usual connotations of the word “criticism,” literary criticism is called criticism not because it is negative or corrective but rather because those who write criticism ask searching, analytical, "critical" questions about the works they read. Literary criticism is both the process of interpreting and commenting on literature and the result of that process."
This passage from the textbook gave me a new way to think about the word “criticism.” I always thought of criticism as a way to talk about what is wrong with something, but the textbook says it is not limited to negative remarks. It is a process of understanding and discussing something. This interpretation of the word criticism makes a lot of sense, because I have seen advertisements for movies that say things like, “The critics give the movie five stars!” These critics really liked the movie, showing another time criticism has a good connotation. It seems that the important thing to remember about literary criticism is that it is not about what is good or bad about a piece of literature. Literary criticism exists to help people understand and discuss literature. I will think about literary criticism differently now that I know it is about “interpreting and commenting” instead of being “negative or corrective.”
"Finally, literature awakens us to the richness and complexity of language-our primary tool for engaging with, understanding, and shaping world around us. As we read more and more, seeing how different writers use language to help us feel their joy, pain, love, rage, or laughter, we begin to recognize the vast range of possibilities for self-expression. Writing and discussion in turn give us invaluable practice in discovering, expressing, and defending our own nuanced, often contradictory thoughts about both literature and life."
This passage talks about using literature and language to learn about and practice self-expression. Reading is valuable because it helps us see things in new ways that we have never imagined before. Even though reading often teaches us new things, it also helps us relate to other people or to understand ourselves. If I read a story about someone living halfway across the world from me, I may realize that even though this person has such a different life, the feelings she writes about are the same as my own. I can pay attention to how she described her feelings to learn how to express my own feelings. A piece of literature discussed in a classroom helps students to learn new techniques for their own writing. From other readers of the same piece, I can learn even more about reading and writing than I could on my own. Reading literature is a lot like listening, because the more you listen or read, the more you learn. However, to become a better writer, you have to both listen and write. Only through practicing writing can people become good at using the things they have learned while reading and become better writers.