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Critical Theories. What is it? The terms literary theory and critical theory refer to essentially the same fields of study. They both address ways of.

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Presentation on theme: "Critical Theories. What is it? The terms literary theory and critical theory refer to essentially the same fields of study. They both address ways of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Critical Theories

2 What is it? The terms literary theory and critical theory refer to essentially the same fields of study. They both address ways of looking at literature beyond the typical plot- theme-character-setting studies.

3 Why study critical theories? Affirm your perspective and speak to what you see in the literature. Comprehend a view different from yours and those who hold that view. Gain deeper understanding of the authors work and a better appreciation for it.

4 New Criticism/ Formalism Examines… the work itself as a stand-alone product and does not take into account the history of either the author or time period. the universal signifiers (words, marks, symbols) of literaturefinding meaning these signifiers.

5 New Criticism/Formalism in context Using Cinderella… Look for symbolic, or some other, significance for the specific items and animals chosen (for the coach and staff) and/or the numbers of each chosen. Compare the speech patterns of Cinderella and the stepmother and stepsisters. Are there noticeable differences in cadence? Do any use more (or less) figurative or poetic language than the others? Do any speak noticeably more (or less) than the others?

6 Reader-Response Examines… the reader making mental and life- experience connections to the work. Key idea: The meaning of the work depends upon the readers state of mind at the time of the reading and the readers previous life-experiences.

7 Feminism Examines…. patriarchal language and literature by exposing how these reflect masculine ideology. the subtle construction of masculinity and femininity, and their relative status, positioning, and marginalization within works. the female experience.

8 Feminism in context Using Cinderella… Consider the potentially misogynist theme of abused-girl-waiting-to-be- rescued-by-prince. Consider the values conveyed in the portrayal of the good girl as physically beautiful and the wicked girls as physically ugly.

9 Lesbian and Gay (Queer Theory) Examines… the effect sexual orientation has on interpreting a text. the literary representation of homosexuals in the past. the ideas of closeted and guilt-ridden sentiment (as well as current uncloseted sentiment in the gay and lesbian community) how gays and lesbians have dealt with making their work more acceptable to the general public.

10 Archetypal Examines… the idea of human experience that repeat themselves throughout literature (characters, images, situations).

11 Archetypal in context Using Cinderella… Examine the stepmother and stepsisters as archetypal villains. Examine the chores Cinderella must complete as the archetypal catalogue of difficult tasks.

12 Psychoanalytic/ Freudian Examines… secret unconscious desires and anxieties of the author. a literary work as a manifestation of the author's own neuroses. characters are projections of the author's psyche.

13 Psychoanalytic in context Using Cinderella… Consider Cinderella as a representative of the id expressing desire. Consider the stepmother and stepsisters as representatives of the superegopreventing the id from fulfilling its desire. Consider the fairy godmother and the prince as representatives of the egonegotiating between the id and the superego and allowing the desires of the id to be fulfilled in a socially acceptable manner.

14 Marxism Examines… economic power materialism versus spirituality class conflict art, literature, and ideologies

15 Marxism in context Using Cinderella… oppressed by her bourgeoisie stepmother and stepsisters, who have stolen her rightful inheritance and turned her into a servant in her own home desiring to join the ranks of the bourgeoisie by marrying the prince.

16 Existentialism Examines… the attempt to make meaning in a chaotic or solitary world. Sartre argued, "man makes himself.

17 Existentialism in context Using Cinderella… Watch Cinderella shape her own identity and make meaning of the world in her isolation from society.

18 New Historicism Examines… the view that history is not the absolute rendition of societal events. the past is disputable and uncertain and may reveal heroic actions as nothing more than despotism. Key idea: The losers of history do not have the means to write their stories, nor is there usually an audience interested in hearing them. Most cultures, once dominated by another, are forcedto forget their past.

19 New Historicism in context Using Cinderella… What can we infer about the society in which this storyconsidering, especially, the violence and vengeance in the Grimm versionwould evolve and be told to young children? What can we infer about property and inheritance laws in the society in which Cinderella evolved? What can we infer about the societys view of royalty and monarchic power?

20 Sources Abrams, M.H. "Marxist Criticism." A Glossary of Literary Terms. 7th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, Abrams, M.H. "Psychological and Psychoanalytic Criticism." A Glossary of Literary Terms. 7th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, Barnet, Sylvan. A Short Guide to Writing About Literature. Harper Collins: New York, Belton, Robert. Words of Art: Front Page. Okanagan University College. Posted Accessed November Murfin, Ross, and Supryia M. Ray. The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997.


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