The meaning of a story should go on expanding for the reader the more he thinks about it, but meaning cannot be captured in an interpretation. If teachers are in the habit of approaching a story as if it were a research problem for which any answer is believable so long as it is not obvious, then I think students will never learn to enjoy fiction. Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.
My tone is not meant to be obnoxious. I am in a state of shock."
Flannery O’Connor, 1961 (via Liz’s Twitter via Letters of Note)
this is a problem with teaching literature, this whole “not obvious” thing. my attempt at a methodological way out of this, as a critic/scholar/person who writes about books, is to look at effects (and affects!) rather than meaning per se: to think about what actually happens when we read a text cold, rather than what might happen if we pick at it for awhile. still figuring out how to teach this, though.