Literary Criticism Powerpoint by ert554898


									                      Any work with a unique aesthetic

                      Texts that have stood the test of time?

                      Works of the imagination/creative
What is literature?   writing?

                      Works with a particular set of qualities—
                      e.g., plot, character, tone, setting, etc.?

                      Works that emphasize universal themes
                      (i.e., transcend the merely social or

                      Works that fit the parameters of literary
                      genres: poem, essay, short story, novel?

                      Anything that is written?
What is literary theory?

   The capacity to generalize about phenomena
    and to develop concepts that form the basis
    for interpretation and analysis—in this
    instance, of a “literary” text.
What is literary criticism?

  The disciplined application of theoretical
  principles for the purpose of analyzing,
  interpreting, and evaluating literary texts.
                                    THE 4 CRITICAL VARIABLES of
                                    LITERARY THEORY & CRITICISM

                                               1. The World

                                               2. The Author

Beyond the                 Real                                                     Other
                                               3. The Text
  World                    World                                                    Texts
Text = Symbol,        Text =                    ITS CONTEXT                Text = Ideologically
Archetype             Objective reality                                    constructed language

                                               4. The Reader
Formalism: the TEXT (as art)                     Gender Studies: WORLD/author/text/reader

Structuralism: the TEXT (as language system)     Postcolonial: AUTHOR/world/text/reader

Psychoanalytic: AUTHOR/READER/text               Marxist: WORLD/text

Reader Response: READER/TEXT/community           Territorial: TEXT/[reader/ author/world])
of readers w/shared values

   Historical—author’s historical moment is key
    to understanding a literary text
   Biographical—author’s personal experiences
    are central to understanding the text
   Social realism (?)—social transparency is
    key to understanding the text…
        Hippolyte Taine (1828-1893)

Applying the scientific method to art—assumes
  language is factual, reality is absolute, the “truth” can
  be verified.
Taine’s three major factors for interpreting a text:
Race—i.e., national characteristics of the artist’s
  historical place and time
Milieu—i.e., sum total of artist’s experience
Moment—intellectual & philosophical currents of artist’s
  historical place and time
           Wellek and Warren
         Theory of Literature (1949)

Key issues to understanding a text:
The writer’s heredity & environment (Taine’s
The fictional world of the text vis-à-vis the
  world outside the text (Taine’s “race” &
The audience for which the text was intended
Irresolvable problem with traditional (pre-1970)
social approaches to literary interpretation

 Practitioners assumed that historical, biographical,
 and social information could be accurately gathered
 and verified. They viewed language as transparent,
 facts as reliable, history as objective.
 Poststructuralist theories about the ideological
 appropriation of language by dominant groups &
 postmodernist disillusionment with objective reality
 both undermine old-style criticism.

            Meaning resides in the text—not in reader,
             author, or world
            Texts may contain numerous messages,
             but must have a unifying central theme
             created by the perfect union of all artistic
            Texts are artistic creations
            Close reading is the basis of new critical
            The methodology for finding meaning is
             clear-cut; the tools are unique to literary

         *one type of formalism

Text has many interpretations—text & reader interact to
create meaning

Meaning ultimately resides in the reader’s mind
or the consensual “mind” of a community of readers
(this class, for example)

A text’s truth is relative

Readers may reach the same conclusions about a
work--but approach the task quite differently

   Meaning resides in the structure of language, not in
    art nor in the reader’s mind
   Scientific approach to literary analysis:
    structure of language as a logical sign system
    determines meaning
   Two levels of language: langue (“the King’s English”)
    & parole (everyday speech)
   Interpret a text or part of a text by taking its language
    apart (study word derivations, sentence syntax, etc.)
Texts—composed of language, an unstable sign       Jacques Derrida
system that always “defers” meaning.
Truth is constructed, not “given,” so there’s no
such thing as A correct interpretation
 Look for an apparent meaning of some aspect of
the text ; show how the text undermines
(deconstructs) it; look again & show how the text
undermines the latest interpretation, etc.
Look for oppositions: good vs. evil, e.g. Show how
the text undermines first one, then the other so that
good and evil are exposed as “empty” concepts

   Literature is one among many socially constructed texts. If there is
    a difference, it’s the intentional use of the imagination to convey
   History is every bit as subjective as intentionally imaginative texts
   Purpose of analyzing literature is to locate hidden social
    messages, especially those that promote oppression.
   Texts have no final interpretation
   Language, though socially constructed, is stable enough to be
   Find a small intriguing or odd piece of the text and interpret it by
    comparing it to contemporary sign systems—magazines,
    newspapers, fads, laws. Try to locate uses & abuses of power.

   Meaning resides in text, history, and ideology
   Literature is a political tool—those in power
    decide what is “art”
   Truth is relative
    Study the author’s (and reader’s) life & times; locate
    tensions between conflicting cultures; explore the “double
    consciousness” of colonized & postcolonized writers;
    observe how colonizers “refashion” the colonized;

   Meaning resides in text, history, & ideology: messages of
    oppression & class conflict
   Texts are commodities, not timeless works of art
   Truths are socially constructed.

Look for evidence of oppressive ideologies of the dominant
  social group; look for uses & abuses of power

       What workers look like to a capitalist
Meaning is socially constructed.
Texts have more than one interpretation
Texts are commodities (products of
Truth is relative, highly dependent on
arbitrary     categories of difference, esp.
those based on            “sex” and “gender”
Look for systems of containment; for evidence
of repression, oppression, suppression,
subversion, & rebellion in texts by women;
study women’s unique ways of understanding
and writing about the human condition.

   Possessions (objects of desire) are metaphors for who we are
    or how we wish to be perceived—aspects of the “self.”
   Possessions may be tangible or intangible (my car or my idea,
   They occupy mental space: cognitive, affective, and conative.
   These spaces strongly resemble territories—with rights of
    ownership, markers, boundaries, rules of “in” and “out,”
    defensive strategies, etc.

   Look for territorial behaviors; determine the “object(s) of desire”;
    what aspect of self is in play? Who owns the object? Who
    wants it? Why? Identify the territorial act: acquisition,
    management, or defense? How does this information improve
    our understanding of the text?

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