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British Literature April 29, 2008 Ms. Cares
Agenda Letter to the SophomoresLetter to the Sophomores Literary CriticismLiterary Criticism Remember to bring your textbook on Thursday!Remember to bring your textbook on Thursday!
Literary Criticism—Definition Literary criticism is the study, discussion, evaluation, and interpretation of literature.Literary criticism is the study, discussion, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory—the philosophical discussion of literature’s methods and goals.Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory—the philosophical discussion of literature’s methods and goals. –What does the literature want to do (goals), and how does the author set out to do it (methods)?
Literary Criticism – some types Historical Criticism Archetypal Criticism Feminist Criticism Marxist Criticism Eco-Criticism Reader Response Criticism
Let’s show you how much you already know…
Reader Response Criticism Reader Response focuses on a reader’s active engagement with a text. The reader’s response is shaded by the reader’s own experiences, social ethics, moral values, and general views of the world. Grendel’s Mother has absolutely no right to avenge her son’s brutal murder. (T/F) Jack is right to believe that in trying to gain power on the island, might makes right. (T/F) Henry, as king, has a right to use Alais as he sees fit. (T/F)
Reader Response Criticism If you have formed an opinion about any or all of those three statements, you are using Reader Response Criticism! Since you’ve already encountered Reader Response criticism, we will work to learn some other types of literary criticism.
Literary Criticism – some types Historical Criticism Archetypal Criticism Feminist Criticism Marxist Criticism Eco- Criticism Reader Response Criticism √
HISTORICAL CRITICISM While acknowledging the importance of the literary text, the Historical criticism approach recognizes the significance of historical information in interpreting literature. This perspective assumes that texts both influence and are influenced by the times in which they were created. For example, an interpretation of The Crucible, which is set in seventeenth-century New England, may be enhanced by an understanding of the McCarthyism of the 1950s.
Some common assumptions in the use of Historical criticism are Text cannot be separated from its historical context: a web of social, cultural, personal, and political factors. The understanding of a text is enhanced by the study of beliefs and artifacts such as diaries, films, paintings, and letters in existence when the text was created. Paraphrase both of the common assumptions of Historical criticism described above.
Archetypal Criticism Archetypes are universal symbols; that is, they are images, characters, motifs, or patterns that recur in the myths, dreams, oral traditions, songs, literature, and other texts of peoples widely separated by time and place. Archetypal criticism deals with the similarities of these patterns in the literature of widely diverse cultures. For example, most cultures have stories that present a hero’s journey.
Archetypal Criticism List three examples of texts (stories, poems, movies) that include a hero’s journey. 1._________________________________ 2._________________________________ 3._________________________________
Some common assumptions in the use of Archetypal criticism: Certain images that share a common interpretation recur in texts from diverse cultures—water, sun, colors, the tree, settings such as the garden, the desert Certain characters recur—the hero, the trickster, the great mother, the wise old man, the prodigal son Certain motifs and patterns recur—creation stories, the quest, voyage to the underworld, journey, initiation
Feminist Critical Perspective Feminist interpretation focuses on relationships between genders. It examines the patterns of thought, behavior, values, enfranchisement, and power in relations between and within the sexes. For example, a Feminist reading of Cinderella may take into account the idea of power relationships between the men and women of the novel.
Some common assumptions in the use of Feminist criticism: A pervasively patriarchal society conveys the notion of male dominance through the images of women in its texts. Many literary texts lack complex female figures and deem the female reader as an outsider, or require her to assume male values in terms of perception, feelings, and actions. Issues of gender and sexuality are central to artistic expression. Fictional portrayals of female characters often reflect and create stereotypical social and political attitudes toward women. Texts authored by women may have different viewpoints than texts authored by men.
Eco-criticism is a form of literary criticism based on an ecological perspective. The eco-criticism investigates the relation between humans and the natural world in literature. Attitudes towards nature and the environment are presented and analyzed. One of the main ideas in eco- criticism is to study how individuals in society behave and react in relation to the nature and ecological aspects. Eco-Criticism
This form of criticism has gained a lot of attention during recent years (approximately since 2000) due to higher social emphasis on environmental destruction and increased technology. Hence, it is a fresh way of analyzing and interpreting literary texts, bringing new dimensions to the field of literary criticism.Eco-Criticism
Marxist Criticism Marxist criticism asserts that economics provides the foundation for all social, political, and ideological reality. The presence of economic inequalities is a power structure that drives history and influences differences in religion, race, ethnicity, and gender. For example, status in the community of Lord of the Flies can be examined from an economic point of view.
Some common assumptions in the use of Marxist Criticism: All aspects of humanity are based on the struggle for economic power. The basic struggle in human society is between the haves and the have-nots.
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