New Generation of Critics vs. the Philistines


Responding to Merv Nicholson’s earlier post

Merv, from my secondary school vantage point, you can rest assured there is a new generation of Frye critics. The Educated Imagination is being taught in more high schools than ever; not only by DeepFrye’s like myself, but students.  In one school a student ON HER OWN ACCORD read EI and then pushed for a presentation before the school’s English department to have all the teachers teach Frye.  Like the classics, Frye’s work refuses to go away — no matter what the School of Resentment says.

If Frye is dead, refuted, parodied, caricatured, it is merely the myth of Goliath: new Professor Davids making a reputation slinging (mostly dirt) at the Goliath Frye. But they are the true Philistines. If you caught the exchanges between David Richter and others on this site, you will see what I mean.

I do teach my Grade 12 students other schools of critical thought, but Frye gives them the most freedom to be creative. Their essays are mostly bereft of secondary sources, as they engage the text directly, doing their own archetype spotting, not to mention ideologue spotting too. (I mean, how will a Marxist criticism of say Oedipus Rex go???)

What is most intimidating of Frye’s technique in the academy is that it exposes the gatekeepers for what they are: power hungry ideologues smashing whatever is in their way, including literature and literary criticism. In fact, Frye’s latest taxonomy of modes in Words with Power (descriptive, dialectical, ideologial, mythical, metaliteray) can also be used to chart all the schools of criticism, most of which fall under “dialectical/ideological”.

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