Literary Criticism Literary Criticism Five different by huanghengdong


									     Literary Criticism
Five different lenses for examining
 What is Literary Criticism?
Schools of literary criticism are like
sunglasses specially designed for
driving. Driving glasses make red and
green particularly bright to the wearer.
Different theories make particular
aspects of a piece of writing more
obvious or crucial to the analyst.
        Why learn this?
Looking at a novel, story, or poem
through a particular lens helps us to
notice things we wouldn’t otherwise.
Some schools of thought are more
relevant to a given work than others.
Discussions about relevant approaches
to literature are excellent practice in
critical thinking.
So, what have we been doing
     so far, Mrs. Fidler?
We have used the New Critical
approach thus far.
 – The New Critical approach suggests
   breaking down a work in terms of themes,
   symbols, and characterization internally,
   seeking to attach meaning to literary
        Feminist Criticism
A feminist critic sees cultural and economic
disabilities in a patriarchal society that have
hindered or prevented women from realizing their
creative possibilities
Feminist critics see males as the dominant force,
with women relegated to the role of defining
object for men.
        Feminist Criticism
Feminist criticism holds three assumptions:
– Our civilization is pervasively patriarchal.
– Concepts of gender are overwhelmingly cultural
  constructs affected by patriarchal biases.
– The patriarchal ideology also pervades those
  writings that have been considered great
  literature. Such works lack autonomous female
  role models, are implicitly addressed to male
  readers, and leave the woman reader an alien
  outsider or else solicit her to identify against
  herself by assuming male values and ways of
  perceiving, feeling, and acting.
   So, if I ask you to apply
     feminist criticism…
Examine the patterns of thought and
behavior in male-female relationships.
Seek to identify values put forth about men
and women’s roles.
Look at the role of enfranchisement and
power in relations between the sexes.
        Marxist Criticism
• The evolving history of humanity is determined by the
  changing mode of its material production--its basic economic
• Historical changes in the fundamental mode of production
  effect essential changes both in the power relations of social
  classes, which carry on a conflict for economic, political, and
  social advantage.
• A Marxist critic typically undertakes to explain the literature in
  any era by revealing the economic, class, and ideological
  determinants of the way an author writes, and to examine the
  relation of the text to the social reality of the time and place.
So if I ask you to apply Marxist
 Ask yourself: who has the power and
 money in the piece of literature?
 Ask yourself: who lacks these assets?
 Ask yourself: why is that?
 Ask yourself: what is the effect?
   Psychological Criticism
Psychological criticism deals with a work of
literature primarily as an expression of the
personality, state of mind, feelings, and
desires of its author.
The assumption of psychoanalytic critics is
that a work of literature is correlated with
its author’s life and mental traits.
How to apply psychological
Learn a little bit about the author, then
look for potential links between the work
of fiction and important elements of the
author’s life.
        Some examples:
Shakespeare had a son, Hamnet, who died
as a child. This tragedy caused Shakespeare
immense grief, even rage. These emotions
are expressed very clearly in his play Hamlet.
Harper Lee calls To Kill a Mockingbird a
“simple love story.” She had a father who
was a lawyer in the South.
       Historical Criticism
Using this theory requires that you apply to
a text specific historical information about
the time during which an author wrote.
History, in this case, refers to the social,
political, economic, cultural, and/or
intellectual climate of the time.
   How to apply historical
Determine the year, or span of years, in
which a work was completed.
Research major events, issues, and
concerns of that time; then, look for
links to the themes, symbols, events,
and characters of the work at hand.
The play The Crucible is set in Puritan New
England and revolves around the Salem
witch trials. Arthur Miller wrote it in the 1950s
and many of the events and themes reflect
his disgust with the Communist “witch hunts”
he observed.
Many authors of the World War I era,
including F. Scott Fitzgerald, were deeply
affected by the “war to end all wars,” and
therefore their characters embody a sense of
loss, depression, and disconnection.
The Example You Will Love
J. K. Rowling used the Harry Potter
series to convey her thoughts on
important contemporary social issues,
including class divisions (Chamber of
Secrets), the prison system (Prisoner of
Azkaban), and the British education
system (Order of the Phoenix).
 Reader-Response Theory
Suggests that literature does not, on its
own, have any substantial meaning.
Rather, meaning derives from the
interaction between the individual
reader and the text.
 If I ask you to use reader-
     response analysis…
Identify key features of the text.
Identify essential characteristics or
beliefs of yourself.
Look for ways they cross, connect,
contradict, or relate to each other in
interesting ways.
 Romeo and Juliet and Mrs.
Romeo and Juliet make foolish      As a teenager, I was extremely
decisions based on their ages      quiet and studious.
and their notion of true love.
                                   My parents were extremely
Their parents are largely          strict and did not allow many
unaware of what is transpiring.
                                   typical high school freedoms
The play contains a tremendous     (driving, dating).
amount of melodrama; for
example, Juliet is believed to     As a high school teacher, I
“die of sadness.”                  spend a lot of time and energy
The play foreshadows its tragic    on students’ social concerns,
ending very heavily.               counseling them about
At numerous points in the play,    decisions.
better options were available to   I have relatives and friends who,
the characters.                    though adults, create social

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