Study Guide

Literary Historians United and Excited

When Jauss came along, literary criticism had become a little tired and droopy. Jauss put a little pep in its step. He had big plans for literary history, and this group honored those big plans by rejecting the idea that literature must be understood as part of one long, linear history with all books grouped into their respective genres. LHUE believed that literature was there to make history meaningful—not the other way around.

Hans-Georg Gadamer
Guru

HGH, as he was referred to, often led chants about things like how aesthetics matter and how art and everyday life can go happily hand in hand. When people brought up thorny questions about art for art's sake, HGH would dismiss them with a swift wave of the hand. Though he was widely admired in the group, people grew weary of his lengthy diatribes on propaganda and censorship as examples of how different people experience different books, well, differently.

Martin Heidegger
Artist-in-Residence

Marty could make anything hardcore—even aesthetics. That's why this group just had to have him as a member. During his tenure, Marty delivered lectures—both Power Point and extemporaneous—on how objects make meaning in the world. His phenomenological perspective was really useful for the group: all members agreed that objects shouldn't be treated like objects, but Marty gave their ideas some spin by trotting out all of his existential language about Being (with a capital B).

Immanuel Kant
Philosophical Cheerleader

Members of the group liked Kant because he always had on his rose-colored glasses. Not only did he toe the company line about how readers make meaning, but he also had some good words to say about protagonists. Kant was always on the ready to point out that a novel's protagonist is a hero and can serve as a very useful moral guide for the reader.