Literary Criticism: An Introduction

 

introduction to literature criticism and theory

An Introduction to Literary Criticism and Theory Before we begin our examination and study of literary theory, it is important that we define exactly what literary theory is and is not, identify some of the main characteristics of such, as well as identify some of the key differences between traditional “literary. Nov 21,  · 'An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory' is a clearly written and comprehensive guide to an often daunting subject which should appeal to /5(8). Lively, original and highly readable, An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory is the essential guide to literary ecrasmuss.gang at ‘The Beginning’ and concluding with ‘The End’, chapters range from the familiar, such as ‘Character’, ‘Narrative’ and ‘The Author’, to the more unusual, such as ‘Secrets’, ‘Pleasure’ and ‘Ghosts’.Cited by:


Introduction to Literary Theory // Purdue Writing Lab


Founded in by Joseph Introduction to literature criticism and theory. Moxleyintroduction to literature criticism and theory, Writing Commons is a viable alternative to expensive writing textbooks. Faculty may assign Writing Commons for their compositionbusinesstechnicaland creative writing courses. We are currently crowdsourcing submissions via an academic, peer-review process see Contribute. Literature is what makes the world whirl.

By reading literature with a critical eye, one can begin to go beyond simply expressing a like or dislike of a particular text, delving deeper into the particular view of the world that an author wanted to convey. Literary criticism enables students and critics to develop an informed opinion about the meaning of a literary work. This article focuses on literary interpretation, which may be called second-level literary criticism.

The difference between first- and second-level criticism is similar to the distinction between a like or dislike of a text versus giving an interpretation of it. Imagine that a group of friends gathers outside a movie theater after watching a re-release of Twilightthe first film in the Twilight film series, based on the novel of the same name by Stephanie Meyers.

Some of the people in the group say they do not like the film because it portrays Bella as a weak female who becomes obsessed with Edward Cullen whom she cannot marry without leaving her loving father and losing her precious mortality. Other people like those aspects of the film, however, arguing that the film makes them disagree with its representation of some women as meek characters.

In each case, everyone states his or interpretation of the film to contribute to a conversation about it; everyone offers literary criticism. Literary criticism advances a particular argument about a specific text or a set of texts, so literary criticism should be persuasive. The first step in formulating a critical argument is to assume a rhetorical stance that engages a type, school, or approach of literary criticism.

The critical approach will determine the content of the interpretation. Although literary theory and criticism have existed from classical through contemporary times, a feature of modern and postmodern literary criticism is the division of criticism into various schools. In this article, students will learn about the modern and contemporary critical movements that scholars and students most frequently use, gaining the ability to handle any literary analysis assignment.

Formalist critics ignore the author, his or her biography, and historical context, focusing on the literary work, which they uphold as autonomous.

As Jonathan Culler explains in Literary Theory: A Very Short Introductionthe Russian Formalists of the early years introduction to literature criticism and theory the introduction to literature criticism and theory century stressed that critics should concern themselves with the literariness of literature, the verbal strategies that contribute to the form of a literary text, and the emphasis on language that literature itself invites Roman Jakobson, Boris Eichenbaum, and Viktor Shklovsky oriented literary studies toward questions of form and technique.

Eliot, I. Wimsatt, borrowed some of the methodologies of Russian Formalism. These two schools cannot be conflated, however. Russian Formalism locates its origins in Russia in the early years of the twentieth century.

Criticism that adopts an approach espoused by either the schools of Russian Formalism or New Criticism analyzes how the elements and devices e. Critics who use an approach from the schools of either the Russian Formalists or the New Critics thus focus on elements and devices within the literary text in order to analyze how they create meaning. The popular structuralist critic Terence Hawkes defines structuralism as a way of thinking about the world which is predominantly concerned with the description of structures Structuralism focuses on literature as a system of signs in which meaning is constructed within a context.

Words inscribed with meaning may be compared to other words and structures to determine their meaning. Unlike Formalist critics or New Critics, structuralist critics are primarily interested in the codes, signs, and rules that govern social and cultural practices, including communication. Structuralism enjoyed popularity in the s and s in both European and American literary theory and criticism. These notes present a structuralist approach to language that focuses on an abstract system of signs.

Two parts constitute a sign: the signifier a spoken mark and the signified a concept :. The relationship of the signifier to the signified determines the meaning of the sign.

Signs are meaningful only because of the similarities or differences that exist between them Significantly, cultural communities determine the meanings and relationships of signs. Structuralist critics also look closely at patterns. As You Like It epitomizes the characteristics associated with this pattern of festive comedy. The play begins in a masculine, courtly world where the playwright introduces the love interests of Rosalind and Orlando.

After Rosalind is banished by her uncle, who has usurped the throne from her father, she retreats to the feminine introduction to literature criticism and theory world of the forest. In the forest, she gives lessons to Orlando about how to court and properly treat her, and she reunites with her father. Shakespeare wrote other plays, such as Twelfth Night and The Two Gentlemen of Veronawhich follow this pattern of retreat, introduction to literature criticism and theory, release, and reconciliation.

Jacques Derrida is the originator of deconstruction. Abrams points out in A Glossary of Literary Termshowever, Derrida did not intend for deconstruction to serve as a method for writing literary criticism.

Rather, Derrida viewed deconstruction as a technique for exposing and subverting many assumptions of Western thought in a variety of texts Miller have all been instrumental in the development of deconstructive readings of literary texts, introduction to literature criticism and theory. Deconstruction is a type of theory that arose from post-structuralism, which asserts that since systems are always changing, it is impossible to describe a complete system, such as one that insists on the association of darkness with evil and vice versa.

As such, post-structuralists also view subjects—subjects such as readers—as caught up in the forces that produce the very structures they study as objects of introduction to literature criticism and theory. Discovering Truth with a capital T is, therefore, an impossible task to carry out with deconstructive criticism. For example, a deconstructionist critic would ask how and why more importance is placed on light versus dark in a text, thereby questioning the truth of these associations within—and even outside of—the literary text.

For example, introduction to literature criticism and theory, if a reader can see how a literary text intentionally correlates light with goodness and darkness with evil, a reader might begin to question the truth of these correlations. Similarly, a deconstructionist critic would point out how the construction of these contrasting forces undermine their stability.

If Arnold represents evil, why are his dark eyes surrounded with pale light? Additionally, Connie attempts to get a tan in introduction to literature criticism and theory natural sunlight, while Arnold puts on makeup to make himself appear tan. How can light represent goodness if a bad person can simply make himself appear light—or tan—like Connie is?

The deconstructionist critic recognizes how the text plays around with the assumptions readers make based on the connotations of the words and the images they create, enhancing the tension in the story, and undermining the possibility of the text creating only one meaning. Abrams, M. A Glossary of Literary Terms. Boston: Thomson Higher Education, Bohannan, Laura. Natural HistoryAug. Bressler, Charles.

Upper Saddle River: Pearson, Oxford University Press, December Coleridge, Samuel. London: Routledge, Culler, Jonathan. Oxford: Oxford UP, Fish, Stanley.

Is There a Text in this Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities. Greenblatt, introduction to literature criticism and theory, Stephen. The Power of Forms in the English Renaissance. Stephen Greenblatt. Norman: Pilgrim Books, Hawkes, Terence. Structuralism and Semiotics. Berkeley: University of California Press, Hughes, Langston. Macey, David. The Penguin Dictionary of Critical Introduction to literature criticism and theory. New York: Penguin, New York: Amsco School Publications, Springhall, John.

Woolf, Virginia. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, Welcome to Writing Commonsthe open-education home for writers. Writing Commons helps students improve their writing, critical thinking, and information literacy. Moxley, Writing Commons is a viable alternative to expensive writing textbooks. The two best ways to navigate through Writing Commons are using the top menu navigation, called Chapters, or the left-hand navigation menu system.

Rhetoric Rhetorical Appeals Rhetorical Situation, introduction to literature criticism and theory. Search WritingCommons. Literary Criticism: An Introduction. What is Literary Criticism? Does the work contain any paradoxes?

If so, how do they complicate, create, or enhance meaning? What is the tone of the work? What formal elements reveal the tone?

 

Introduction to Theory of Literature | Open Yale Courses

 

introduction to literature criticism and theory

 

This is a survey of the main trends in twentieth-century literary theory. Lectures will provide background for the readings and explicate them where appropriate, while attempting to develop a coherent overall context that incorporates philosophical and social perspectives on the recurrent questions: what is literature, how is it produced, how can it be understood, and what is its purpose? Lively, original and highly readable, An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory is the essential guide to literary ecrasmuss.gang at ‘The Beginning’ and concluding with ‘The End’, chapters range from the familiar, such as ‘Character’, ‘Narrative’ and ‘The Author’, to the more unusual, such as ‘Secrets’, ‘Pleasure’ and ‘Ghosts’. An Introduction to Literary Criticism and Theory Before we begin our examination and study of literary theory, it is important that we define exactly what literary theory is and is not, identify some of the main characteristics of such, as well as identify some of the key differences between traditional “literary.