Re: a note on primary texts

Cindy Wambeam (cwambeam@NMSU.EDU)
Thu, 10 Oct 1996 09:54:25 -0600

On Thu, 10 Oct 1996, Beth W. Baldwin wrote:

> I suppose that I need to go back to my original posts to see whether or
> not I said that CFP editors were elitists. Now, that would be an instance
> of going back to the *primary text* to see if claims about the primary
> text by the *seconday text* (Bob) were accurate. This is why I think
> people should refer to primaries (not necessarily the same as "canon")
> *in addition to* secondaries. Often, secondaries are not accurate. Think
> of your students who like to talk about what the Bible says without
> consulting the text.

But Beth, this assumes that a timeline is responsible for accuracy, yet
those things that come first are not necessarily the best, the most
accurate, or the most central texts. Primary and Secondary infers a
literary criticism approach -- as if we're examining a text to criticize
it, and that those things which come later are somehow further removed
from the Truth.

I think this works if we talk about primary texts as that which is being
examined -- your initial statement, the bible, an article, Las Vegas, a
shopping mall, a mountain, a film... But if we're discussing theorists
who examine the "text of postmodern culture," the primary text is not the
theorists' writings but the text they are examining. It is important, if
one is theorizing on the relevance of film in our postmodern society to
1. read Jameson, and 2. watch films. I would argue, however, that the
primary text is the film, not Jameson's work.

I'm all for historical analysis and a thorough reading of the writings
which inform theory -- I think these are too often ignored and obscured.
But I don't want to assume that because someone wrote first, theirs is
the most primary or central. I guess that I agree with your stance, but I
think that the term primary text indicates something different than the
theories from which postmodern criticism arise.


_ .........................
___(_) _ __ Cindy Wambeam : Oedipa, to retaliate,:
/ __| | '_ \ New Mexico State University : stopped believing:
| (__| | | | | English department : in them:
\___|_|_| |_|.......==><==....:.(The Crying of Lot 49):