The Postmodern vs. Grammatical Historical Approaches to Literature


Dennis McCallum



Literary ElementGrammatical-Historical MethodPostmodern Method
AuthorThe author intended to convey a message through the text. That intent is the true meaning of the text. Therefore, the author is the authority over the text.The author is irrelevant to meaning or unaware of the meaning of the text. The author doesn't stand over the text as an authority
TextThe text is to be interpreted in light of the rules of grammar at the time it was written, the historical world view of the intended readers, and the thought development throughout the text.Texts are to be "deconstructed" and freed from "logocentrism{C}." Behind the text lie the "metanarrative{C}" and internal contradictions that discerning readers detect and expose. The text is an artifact of a particular cultural reality.
ReaderThe reader is to use the tools of interpretation to discover the original intention of the author for the original audience. The goal of good exegesis is to let the text speak, while avoiding, as much as possible, introducing reader bias.No reader can eliminate reader bias. Whatever the author intended, we will never know exactly. Therefore, the reader becomes the center of meaning. The locus of authority over the text shifts from the author to the reader.