This blog entry consists of a series of points based loosely on the readings.
(1) Two detectives arrive at a crime scene. Detective One says, ‘Oh look! It’s a burglary. Didn’t I see a suspicious fellow down the street? Hmmm. What evidence links this crime to that fellow?’ Detective Two, on the other hand, looks at the base of a broken window, eventually bringing forth a magnifying glass. He asks himself, ‘Did a crime occur here? Can I find some fingerprints? Which signifiers suggest motive?’
I think this scenario evokes the significance of sampling in the humanities. In the social sciences, the concept of sampling (Knight 119–26) is of course linked to polling (large scale) or focus groups (small scale). In the humanities, sampling emerges through shared notions of authorship, theme, genre, and period. By bringing into play a wide range of historical and cultural evidence, a critic could argue just about any case, provided that his or her answer agrees with public tastes.
(2) Claimsmaking (Knight 16–48) reifies an argument (a ‘claim’) into some kind of object (i.e., something which can be made). As a term, it’s rather deceptive, certainly less effective than criticalmaking.
(3) I’d like to address Knight’s point that “[some strategies of writing allow scholars] to amass sprawling and self-indulgent descriptions that are free of meaning or claims” (194). In many cases, these kinds of passages merely restate critical claims.