So why does this matter?

the point de capiton

The "quilting point" on Lacan's graph of desire.

While there is a lot to be said about a test that makes you spend time memorizing facts instead of directly investigating the canon, it is important to keep in mind what the test allows you to do based on the sheer fact that it gives you access to higher education.

Ronald Dworkin, the American philosopher, said that the purpose of examining a text from many lenses is to determine what makes it the best work of art it can be. Essentially, it is the job of the critic to shape and define art.

In deciding what is worthy of canonization, the critic determines what posterity will see as the essence of an era. We find ourselves in a text and become immortal by passing it down. That is the job of the students of literature, and it is a worthy pursuit.

While I initially scoffed at the idea of "studying" for a test that determines your ability to resonate with an aesthetic, I learned that having a basic understanding of the chronology of both text and theory is important.

In order to undermine a current mode of thought, one must know what the mode of thought is. Most of the movements in literature have been reactionary, and it is through this dialectic process that progress toward some sort of "truth" is made.

By creating this Web site, I realized both how much I knew, and how much I still need to learn. This has provided me with a valuable foundation for both studying for the GRE in the next couple of years, and for studying literature as a whole. By laying out everything, I recognize patterns I would never have noticed usually.

That said, the importance of studying for this test is lies in the fact that it prepares you to wrestle with important texts by making you notice they exist. It makes you recognize patterns so that they can be pinned down and investigated. It makes you objective so that you can learn to be subjective.

Copyright 2008, Alexandra Conti, University of Florida