Literary Theory - Weebly

Literary Theory - Weebly

Literary Theory Dr. Maier Aristotle: Poetics First significant work of literary criticism Authored in 335 B.C. Pity and Fear (Eleos and Phobos) Catharsis Mimesis

A Multiplicity of Approaches Literary critics are almost never unified in their interpretation of a novel or any literary work. Why do you suppose this is the case? What factors make it virtually impossible for critics to come to a consensus regarding the meaning of a literary work?

The Traditional Approach to Reading The literary text has a moral meaning that is to be ascertained through careful reading and analysis of themes, characters, and passages. This meaning contributes to the moral edification of the reader and makes him or her a better citizen. Literature is universal and its moral messages

transcend historical circumstances. Hermeneutics Originally derived from Biblical interpretation in the Middle Ages Later iterations of theory developed idea of hermeneutic circle Constant interplay between part and whole. A close reading of a short passage in a novel can

be related to the overarching themes of the novel. Biographical Criticism Understands literature in terms of the authors life, education, philosophical and political orientation, and his or her other works. For some critics, the main task of reading should be determining an authors original

intent in crafting the literary work. Russian Formalist Approach Rejects moralistic approach to reading. Literature is unique and is different from other forms of language. Literary language has a special property that sets it off from ordinary language. Reading literature means paying close attention

to the literary properties of its language. The literary work is a closed system. The New Critical Approach Not really new anymore. Anglo-American school from early 20th century. The historical circumstances of the work play no role in interpretation The authors life is likewise irrelevant to

understanding the literary work. Focus should be on literary work as a single entity, understood entirely on its own terms. The Marxist Approach Economic motives drive all aspects of human existence. Novels are cultural productions that obey the same economic laws. Novels are to be read for the insight they provide into certain

socioeconomic structures. No novel can be understood independently of its historical context. The author is the slave of history and the economic forces that drive history. Archetypal Criticism Literature should be understood in terms of its relationships to cultural archetypes that transcend cultures.

These archetypes appear and reappear throughout the history of literature. Archetypal criticism draws connections across cultures and literary periods. Psychoanalytical Criticism Understands literature according to Freudian psychology and its terms. The Unconscious plays a significant role in all

human behavior. Literature illuminates the motives of human action and the influence of unconscious drives. Poststructuralist/Deconstruction Approach Rejects Marxist incorporation of history into literary interpretation. Endorses the focus on language in New

Criticism and Russian Formalism. However, language itself is inherently unreliable. Language does not carry absolute, fixed meaning. It is linguistic play, and deceives and seduces the reader. Postmodernism Rejects traditional distinction between high and low culture.

Likewise rejects dichotomy of literature and popular fiction. All forms of cultural production and linguistic play can be studied to demonstrate false suppositions and deceptive practices. Feminism Literature can be read in terms of gender relations and the problematic assignment of

gender roles. Gender is not a static category but a construct Traditional discourse is dominated by male society. Criticism should unmask the presuppositions of a male-dominated society and present the whole picture. Ecocriticism A more recent school of criticism endeavors to

approach literature through the lens of ecology. Central question of Ecocriticism: How does literature illuminate mans relationship to nature? Questions? 1. What is the basic contrast between New Criticism and Biographical Criticism? 2. What is the bone of contention between

Marxist and archetypal critics? 3. How might an advocate of Russian Formalism approach a work of literature? How would a New-Historical approach conflict with a Formalist approach?

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