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      AP English Literature and Composition
                                   Ms. Garr

                NOTE: A left mouse click will advance you to the next page.
“Raising Duncan” by Chris Browne
What is literary criticism?

    Literary criticism is the evaluation,
     analysis, description, or interpretation of
     literary works. It is usually in the form of a
     critical essay, but in-depth book reviews
     can sometimes be considered literary
     criticism. Criticism may examine a
     particular literary work, or may look at an
     author's writings as a whole. Finding
     literary criticism can be challenging.
And there's more …

    Literary criticism helps us to understand
     the relationship between authors, readers,
     and texts

    The act of literary criticism ultimately
     enhances the enjoyment of our reading of
     the literary work
 1.   Formalism
 2.   Marxism
 3.   Feminism (you will research)
 4.   Psychoanalytic
 5.   Cultural Criticism
 6.   Structuralism
 7.   Post-structuralism
 8.   New Historicism (you will research)
Why do we have to analyze
  Talking about experiences enhances our
   enjoyment of them
  Talking about experiences involves the search
   for meaning which increases our
   understanding of them
  Because Socrates said so: "The life which is
   unexamined is not worth living."
Psychoanalytic Criticism

 Note: If are taking psychology,
 you may recognize some of the
 following schools of thought
 though you may not have known
 that they could be applied to
 literary criticism too!
Psychoanalytic Criticism (4 types)

  Freudian Criticism
  Jungian Criticism
  Laconian Criticism
  Gestalt and Transactional Theories
Freudian Criticism
Freudian Criticism:

    Studies are based on the conventions
     and terminology of Freud’s theories,
     including terminology such as libido,
     id, ego, super-ego, Oedipal conflict,
     repression, latency, and so forth.
     Freudian studies are often used to
     explain sexual behavior and abnormal
     or aberrant behavior of characters.
Jungian Criticism
Jungian Criticism:
    Based on the theories of Carl Jung
    Terms and theories include the following:
    “Anima” (female principle in the universe) and
     “animus” (masculine principle in the universe); the
     “collective unconsciousness”; “archetypal
     symbols”; “the undiscovered self.”
    Fairy tales and folk tales contain profound and
     deep-seated meanings for life and art
    Patterns such as youth/age, life/death, and
     seasonal dichotomies important
    The femme fatale, the “spiritual man,” and the
     “father figure,” the “earth mother” become types
     pervading all art.
Gestalt & Transactional Theories:

    The theories of Erik Erikson and
     other eclectic psychologists are
     becoming important for literary
Sociological Criticism
Sociological Criticisms (3 types)

    Broadly defined, sociological criticism may
     refer to any focus on economic, political,
     social, or ethnic groupings within the novel
     or story. For example, class groupings, or
     occupational groupings, or educational
     groupings may be defined and discussed
     in relation to each other. Some pervasive
     groupings and conflicts are as follows:
Rural-Urban Groupings:

    An ancient source of conflict,
     the rural-urban (also called
     the Pastoral/anti-pastoral)
     pattern is still important in
     modern fiction.
Class Stratification:

    Rich/poor, lower-
     class/upper-class groupings
     tend to focus on the
     implications of economics
     and education.
Marxist Criticism:

    Related to class, emphasis on the
     conventional conflicts of Marxist
     philosophy (proletarian/capitalist,
     worker/bourgeois), Marxist critics often
     find these conflicts “buried” in the
     plotting and action of almost all art and
Formalistic Criticism
New Criticism (aka Formalistic)

  Work is viewed in isolation from its
   historical, biographical, and social
  Focuses only on the work itself,
   treating it like an archaeological
  Analysis of language foremost, and
   the connotations of words and word
   clusters important.
Type 1 of formalistic studies:

  Imagery   Patterns: Isolation and
   delineation of certain repeated
   images or word pictures. Studies
   like this account for critical
   studies on, say, animal imagery,
   light imagery, color imagery, or
   any repeated motif, which is
   repeated in a special way to
   create a given effect.
Type 2 of formalistic studies:

  StructuralPatterns: Analysis of
  the ways in which the parts or
  “building blocks” of the novel or
  story are juxtaposed and
  arranged. Elements such as
  framing, flashbacks, chapter
  arrangement, and so forth are
  important in structural studies.
Type 3 of formalistic studies:

  Stylistics:Analysis of the
   rhetorical patterns (length of
   sentences, adjective use or
   omission, diction, and
   connotative language) becomes
   the mode for critical analysis.
There are so many possible
answers …
 What does this literary work mean?
  Different approaches or lenses help us to
   discover rich and deeper meaning
  Each lens has its strengths and weaknesses
  Each lens is valuable
  Try to become a pluralist rather than an
   inflexible supporter of one
More General Literary Theory Websites

    Internet Public Library: > Literary Criticism
    Dino Felluga’s Introductory Guide to
     Critical Theory website
    Warren Hedges’ Timeline of Major Critical
     Theory in the US

 (concrete examples
    on how to engage in literary criticism)

 (examines
    Othello through several different lit crit lenses)

 (an example of
    cultural criticism used to analyze a poem)

 (a comparison of three
    approaches: formalist, deconstructionist, feminist)

 (an excellent overview of
    numerous theories – very good)

    s.html (different approaches to reading)

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