Criteria for judging literature Why? All analysis is judgement. By interpreting and placing into our personal frames of reference, we choose, accept, reject, edit, measure and judge. What criteria? Depends what you are doing with your judgement: Review and recommendation Argument to establish belief Personal aesthetic experience
Criteria for judging literature Schemes of interpretation: structures and frameworks around which we analyse an item or idea Example - Four Approaches for Traditional Literature: Psychological - dealing with the personality, emotions and identity of an individual Structural - how the techniques of literary creation shape the reader’s response Sociological - what can be understood of our own society from the elements and features of the story Archetypal - the cues and clues that keep recurring here, there and everywhere
Criteria for judging post-colonial literature Post-colonial literature is defined by: Its political focus Its relation to current and past society Its literary presentation Therefore, criteria could include schemes such as: Literary techniques Themes and ideas Political interpretations Historical aspects
Chinese Cinderella - Literary Structures that define this piece of literature Auto-biography Therefore 1st person authorial/character voice, and personal perspective Non-fiction, prose Chronological, yet episodic (non-narrative) Reference to traditional motifs and symbols
Chinese Cinderella - Thematic Family relationships: Parent/child Stepmother/stepdaughter Siblings Extended family Secrets
Chinese Cinderella - Thematic Personal survival: Individuality Identity Resilience Friends Gender Sources of strength
Chinese Cinderella - Political Post-colonial interactions: Chinese - European –Traditional culture and expectations vs introduced fashions and formats –Rigid and predictable structures vs individuality and personal whims Niang as Coloniser of the family - exploiting its resources and making arbitrary judgements to suit herself and her descendents
Chinese Cinderella - Historical Period of immense turmoil in Chinese history: European colonisation and exploitation Japanese invasion Nationalist/Communist battle for control Adeline as symbol of China: helpless and exploited but maintaining identity and resilience until the opportunity to assert independence arrives
Criteria for judging literature In all these schema, an analyst must determine how successfully the work achieves its purpose according to the limits and nature of those specific criteria The criteria are perspectives, points of view, from which judgements and interpretations can be made. They are possibilities.
Criteria for judging literature They provide a structure, a vocabulary and a range of options that you (the analyst) may choose to use to explore and explain a piece of literature. They are NOT mutually exclusive. There may be considerable overlap between the interpretations. They are NOT the only possibilities.
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