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Schools of Literary Criticis m

Schools of Literary Criticis m

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Schools of Literary Criticis m

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  1. Schools of Literary Criticism

  2. The Purpose of Criticism • To help us resolve a difficulty in the reading. (2) To help us choose the better of two conflicting readings. (3) To enable us to form judgments about literature.

  3. Historical / Biographical School • Analyze the work as the reflection of an author's life / times (or of the characters' life / times). • Belief that it is necessary to know about the author and the political, economical, and sociological context of his times in order to truly understand his works. • A natural tendency for readers. • Literature is naturally more moving when we can connect it to life.

  4. To use historical/biographical criticism • 1. Research the author’s life and relate that information to the work. • 2. Research the author’s time (political history, intellectual history, and economic history) and relate it to the wok. • 3. Research the belief structures and ways of thinking and relate them to the work.

  5. Advantages of Historical Criticism • This approach works well for some works--like those of Alexander Pope, John Dryden, and Milton--which are obviously political in nature. • One must know Milton was blind, for instance, for "On His Blindness" to have any meaning. • It also is necessary to take a historical approach in order to place allusions in their proper classical, political, or biblical background.

  6. Disadvantages of Historical Criticism • the meaning / value of a work may be determined by the author's intention is "the intentional fallacy."  • reduce art to the level of biography and make it relative (to the times) rather than universal.

  7. Gender (Feminist) Criticism • Developed in late 20th century • Studies “women’s issues” of repression, oppression, exploitation, and exclusion of women • Also masculine roles and stereotypes • concerned with the place of female writers in the cannon (most commonly taught body of literature) • Simone de Beauvoir gender (masculinity and femininity) are created by society • Misogyny (women as monsters) vs. idealization (women as saints)- seeks a balance

  8. To use gender criticism • 1. Consider the gender of the author and the characters; what role does gender or sexuality play in this work? • 2. Observe how sexual stereotypes might be reinforced or undermined. Try to see how the work reflects or distorts the place of men and women in society. • 3. For men, imagine yourself as a woman reading the work.

  9. Advantages of Gender Criticism • Women have been somewhat underrepresented in the traditional cannon- a feminist approach to literature redresses this problem. • Men can better understand female characters.

  10. Disadvantages of Gender (Feminist) Criticism • turns literary criticism into a political battlefield • overlook the merits of works considered "patriarchal."   • often too theoretical.

  11. Reader-Response Criticism • Inspired in late 1930s but didn’t really catch on until the 1970s • Reaction to problems and limitations found with new criticism (not all literature is suited for new criticism, such as 18th Century literature) • The reader play plays a role in the meaning of any work- inspired by Einstein’s theory of relativity, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle • A subjective perspective

  12. To use Reader-Response • 1. Read and evaluate the text very slowly, describing the response of an informed reader at various points. • 2. Describe your personal response as you read the text. • 3. React to the text as a whole, expressing the subjective and personal responses to it.

  13. Advantages: • It recognizes that different people view works differently, and that people's interpretations change over time. • Disadvantages: • tends to make interpretation too subjective. • does not provide adequate criteria for evaluating one reading in comparison to another. • Too informal at times

  14. Psychological Criticism • Asks “why did you do that?”

  15. Advantages of Psychological Criticism • It can be a useful tool for understanding some works, in which characters obviously have psychological issues. • Like the biographical approach, knowing something about a writer's psychological make up can give us insight into his work.

  16. Disadvantages of Psychological Criticism • can turn a work into little more than a psychological case study, neglecting to view it as a piece of art. •   Critics tend to see sex in everything, exaggerating this aspect of literature. • some works do not lend themselves readily to this approach.

  17. Began with Freud • Freud’s id (instinct), ego(rational), and superego (repression) • Oedipal complex (subconscious rivalry of a boy with his father for mother’s love) • Everything relates to sex

  18. Beyond Freud • Subconscious acts upon author- shows in work • Repression: the mind hides desires and fears • Isolation: experience of an event without any of the expected response • Sublimation: channeling an unacceptable urge into art or fantasy • Displacement: replacement of a safe object of emotion for a dangerous one

  19. Denial: the subject falsifies reality, flatly refuses to accept it • Projection: one sees his/her own characteristics in someone else • Intellectualization: rationalizing as a way of avoiding uncomfortable emotions • Reaction formation: one is convinced that the opposite of a terrible situation is the case ~ can make analysis more interesting

  20. To use psychological criticism • 1. Try to apply some developmental concept to the work, author, or characters (Oedipal complex, repression, gender confusion, etc) • 2. Relate the work to psychologically significant events in the author’s life. • 3. consider how repressed material may be expressed in the work’s symbols or imagery.

  21. New Criticism (Traditional) • Emerged in the 1920s, dominated from the late 1930s through the 1960s • Thinks of themes as whole statements rather than phrases (“the big picture”) • Intellectual exercise • Objective perspective

  22. To use new criticism • Determine what ambiguities, ironies, and tensions are present. • 2. Read closely. Assume that all aspects are established carefully to contribute to the unifying theme: figures of speech, points of view, diction, recurrent ideas or events, etc. • 3. Describe how the various elements of the text work to unify it.

  23. Advantages: • can be performed without much research • emphasizes the value of literature apart from its context (makes literature timeless).  • Disadvantages: • The text is seen in isolation. • ignores the context of the work. It cannot account for allusions. • tends to reduce literature to little more than a collection of rhetorical devices.

  24. Deconstruction Criticism • Language doesn’t have a set meaning; words always refer to other words • The relationship between words and things is arbitrary and therefore can be changed • Multiples meaning indefinitely • Seems ridiculous, but can create more creative and careful writer and reader • May show us how a text can be misread, and what is excluded or suppressed in a text

  25. To use deconstruction criticism • 1. Identify the oppositions in the text. • 2. Determine which character, concept, theme or idea seems to be favored and look for evidence that contradicts that favoring. • 3. Expose the incongruities in the text; if you read too closely, the text will fail to make sense, or at least contradict itself.

  26. Deconstruction examples • A sign by an elevator: “Seeing eye dogs only.” • Logical meaning? • Literal(deconstructionist) meaning? • A sign in fast food restaurants: “Picture menus available upon request.” • Logical meaning? • Literal(deconstructionist) meaning?