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An Introduction to Critical Theory Or, how there can be many possible readings to a text! (Accompanies Critical Theory Handout)

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Presentation on theme: "An Introduction to Critical Theory Or, how there can be many possible readings to a text! (Accompanies Critical Theory Handout)"— Presentation transcript:

1 An Introduction to Critical Theory Or, how there can be many possible readings to a text! (Accompanies Critical Theory Handout)

2 Solve the Riddle… A father and son are involved in a car accident while out driving. The father is killed, but the boy survives and is rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. The surgeon looks briefly at the boy and says and then calls for another doctor, saying, I cannot operate on this boy, because he is my son. Who is the surgeon?

3 After reading the introduction, consider how you might read Cinderella… Cinderella lives with three step-sisters who are jealous of her beauty and will not let her out of the house. One day, news arrives that the prince is holding a fabulous ball. The three step-sisters all go to the ball, each hoping that the prince will fall in love with her. Cinderella is left at home, but her fairy godmother appears and magically provides her with beautiful clothes and a carriage so that she can go to the ball. The spell will only last until midnight. Cinderella is the most beautiful woman at the ball, and the prince will only dance with her.

4 Cinderella continued…. However, she rushes out of the ballroom at the stroke of twelve, leaving only a glass slipper behind. The prince keeps the slipper and searches the land for its owner. He reaches the home of the step-sisters, and each tries on the slipper, but fails.The prince does not recognise Cinderella in her rags, but she is permitted to try on the shoe. When it fits, she is again transformed. The prince pleads Cinderella to marry him and she does.

5 Here are two readings of Cinderella… The story presents an ideal image of romantic love. It shows that true love will prevail over the odds, and encourages people to believe dreams will come true.

6 Second/Resistant Reading The story is about the shallowness of men who judge women solely on the basis of physical attractiveness. A man who will marry a woman on the basis of a few hours dancing is likely to leave her just as quickly. No wonder most women in the story are bitter. This should be read as a cautionary tale against the idea of romantic love.

7 Before Reading On… How many of you correctly answered the riddle? THE SURGEON IS THE BOYS MOTHER Was it difficult? How long until the logical conclusion became apparent? What does this say about our concept of gender?

8 After reading about Marxist Criticism… Mr Darling used to boast to Wendy that her mother not only loved him but also respected him. He was one of those deep ones who knew about stocks and shares… Mrs Darling was married in white, and at first she kept the books perfectly, almost gleefully, as if it were a game, not so much as a brussel sprout was missing; but by and by whole cauliflowers dropped out, and instead of them there were pictures of babies without faces.

9 From Peter Pan… She drew them when she would have been toting up …Mrs Darling loved to have everything just so, and Mr Darling had a passion for being exactly like his neighbours; so, of course, they had to have a nurse. Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie

10 What assumptions might a young reader form from this text? That normal people have servants (a nurse) That women respect men who know about money That wealth is unequally distributed throughout society To be different from others is shameful Women are unreliable employees and are distracted by thoughts of motherhood

11 Voice of the Colonised… In Shakespeares The Tempest, Prospero, an exiled Duke of Milan is shipwrecked on a deserted island, people only by one person – Caliban. He clothes Caliban, teaches him his language and customs. But eventually Caliban is enslaved when he attempts to rape Prosperos daughter Miranda.

12 Calibans Voice This island's mine by Sycorax my mother, Which thou tak'st from me. When thou camest first, Thou stroak'dst me, and mad'st much of me; would'st give me Water with berries in't; and teach me how To name the bigger light and how the less That burn by day and night; and then I lov'd thee, And shew'd thee all the qualities o' th' isle, The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile: Curs'd be I that I did so! All the charms Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light oh you! For I am all the subjects that you have, Who first was mine own king; and here you sty me In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me The rest o' th' island."

13 Caliban in Art

14 Caliban – Hero/Villain? Consider a post-colonial reading of Caliban. Is he really the villain he is made out to be? What other post-colonial texts can you think of? Can any of these be viewed differently?

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