I remember a paper I wrote for a comp lit class as an undergraduate. It was on childhood autobiography from professor Richard Coe. My topic was the child as poet, as remembered by the adult autobiographer. My idea was very simple: if the autobiographer wanted to idealize his or her poetic beginnings, the poem itself could not appear in the autobiography. Only the warm glow of creation would remain, what it felt like to write the poem. On the other hand, if the adult took an ironic distance from the childhood poet, then the poem would be quoted verbatim. So it's the difference between the poetic feeling of the poet, and the poem itself, which cannot convey anything similar to the reader. Quoting the bad childhood poem is automatically deflating. I remember I used Nabokov's Speak Memory. Possibly Portrait of the Artist.
Why do I remember this? It's because it mattered to me. I felt like I was doing literary criticism like a professor would, with original ideas of my own. This is what I wanted to do for my career. I'm still convinced the paper was a good one.