Literary Lenses What’s the point?
Tool for Analysis As a student, we ask you to analyze
Analysis requires understanding interpretation evaluation
Literary Lenses Literary Theories Critical Theories
Literary Approaches Critical Approaches Interpretive Methods All “names” mean the same thing: a way of reading with a particular focus
Literary Lenses Formalist New Critical (New Criticism) Historical
Archetypal/Mythological Feminist Marxist (Sociological) Psychological
More Literary Lenses New Historical Biographical Reader-Response
Deconstructionist There’s more. . .
Transactional experience of reading Reader makes meaning based on his/her own experiences and knowledge Emphasis on connections to the reader’s world Unconcerned with author’s intent
CAPT Rejects the notion that a single “correct” reading exists for a literary work Not “all” readings are permissible (meaning is based on logical, text-based interpretations)
What do you “see” through the reader-response lens?
What is your analysis? Using the reader-response approach,
what do you think about this advertisement?
Feminist Theory Also called Gender Criticism
Examines how sexual identity influences the interpretation of literary works Central precept that patriarchal attitudes have resulted in literature full of “male-produced” assumptions
Feminist Theory Examines how images of men and women reflect or reject the social forces that “feed” inequality Attempts to combat attitudes by questioning
Archetypal Criticism Also called Mythological Criticism
Emphasizes the “recurrent universal patterns underlying most literary works” The Archetype Views literature in a broad context
Common Female Archetypes
THE EARTH MOTHER. Symbolic of fruition, abundance, and fertility; this character offers spiritual and emotional nourishment to those with whom she comes in contact THE TEMPTRESS. Characterized by sensuous beauty THE PLATONIC IDEA. This woman is a source of inspiration and a spiritual idea THE UNFAITHFUL WIFE. A woman, married to a man she sees as a dull and unimaginative, is physically attracted to a more virile and desirable man
Historical Criticism Seeks to understand a literary work by investigating the social, cultural, and intellectual context that produced it (includes the author’s biographical information) Key goal is to understand the effect of a literary work upon its original audience
New Critical Approach Also called Formalist Criticism & New Criticism
Regards literature as a “unique form of human knowledge that needs to be examined on its own terms” Work itself Elements of form: style, structure, tone, imagery, symbolism, etc
New Critical Approach Primary goal is to determine how literary elements work together with content to shape an effect on the reader AP Literature (college professors love this approach)
Uses the study of the mind and behavior to view a character (or sometimes the author) Asks “Why is the character feeling this way?” “Why is the character acting this way?” “What is motivating these things?”
Is Holden “normal”? Is there a disconnect between reality and the world he imagines? What’s the problem? How is Holden dealing with it?
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