literary criticism powerpoint

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  1. 1. Literary Criticism Literary critics removing passages that displease them. By Charles Joseph Travies de Villiers in 1830
  2. 2. Types of Literary Criticism There are many different types of literary criticism, but well be studying these 5 closely: Formalist Feminist Reader Response Archetypal Marxist Other types include structuralist, psychoanalytic, mythological, sociological, etc.
  3. 3. Formalism Background: Text as a complete isolated unit Study elements such as language, imagery, point of view, plot structure, and/or character development and motivation Pays no attention to either the authors or readers of texts Readers should read neutrally or unemotionally No consideration to social and historical context New Criticism (a type of formalism) focuses on the elements of fiction and emphasizes how they work together to create, in a work of quality, a coherent whole: a unity of plot, theme and character, through use of tone, point of view, imagery, purposeful action, dialogue, and description. Often analyzed and written as a close reading.
  4. 4. Strengths of this theory: The reader does not need additional knowledge, other than whats in the text, for interpreting the literary work. Weaknesses of this theory: It ignores the authors intentions. It assumes that good literature is coherent and that a text that is not coherent by its standards is not good literature. This means many works dont get read or considered to be of value. It divorces literature from its larger cultural context. It assumes that readers can refrain from investing emotionally in their reading and can / should respond objectively to texts.
  5. 5. Formalism Questions to ask for literary criticism: Who is the protagonist? What conflicts does the protagonist experience? What is the climax of the story? What is the protagonists role in the climax How is the setting relevant for this particular story? What is the theme of the story? How do character, plot and setting develop the story?
  6. 6. Reader Response Background: A reaction against the New Critics (or Formalists) gave birth to Structuralism. In the 1970s a reaction against Structuralism gave birth to Reader Response theory. While Structuralists believed that a text was encoded with signifiers that have set meanings, and that language itself was stable, Reader Response theorists believed that words were dynamic: No preset signifiers can exist since each readers thoughts, feelings, and experiences are unique; therefore, each reader responds uniquely to a text.
  7. 7. Some tenets of Reader Response Theory: Meaning is in act of reading not text itself. You can read in a literary manner or aesthetically. In aesthetic reading, the readers attention is centered directly on what he is living through during his relation with that particular text. Your interpretation changes each time your read the same text because your experiences have changed. A community of readers (those with similar experiences and backgrounds) are likely to read and interpret a text similarly, even if they are not in complete agreement. The intended reader of a text is the general audience the author is trying to reachthose who have the ability and perspective to appreciate the authors intentions. The resisting reader reads from a perspective that is directly opposed to the authors. He/She might read from the position of the antagonist or marginal character.
  8. 8. Strengths of this theory: Recognizes the importance of the reader and reading as an intellectual and active activity. Gives readers the freedom to provide meaning to a text, allowing for multiple interpretations of a text. Weaknesses of this theory: No one controls the meaning of a text. There is no objective party to assist readers if they dont agree with one another. Also, there is no objective way for people, such as teachers, to evaluate responses fairly because how can one person say that another readers interpretation is wrong even though that reader may not really understand the text?
  9. 9. Reader Response Questions to ask for Literary Criticism: How do you feel about this text? Why did you like/dislike it? Explain how the text connects to an experience you have had. Why do you think the characters acted as they did? In a similar situation, how would you have behaved? Who do you think is the intended reader for this selection? Create a poem, collage or letter to one of the characters in the text with whom you most identify. Explain in your piece why you identify with this character.
  10. 10. Archetypal Criticism Background: Examines how texts rely on archaic patterns for their meaning. The word archetype derives from Greek, with arche meaning first and typos meaning form or type. According to the Gage dictionary, archetype means an original model or pattern from which copies are made. The original narrative models and patterns on which western literary textual conventions depend come from Judeo-Christian scripture and Greco-Roman mythology. Archetypal literary critics identify how and to what effect patterns from these ancient sources are used in folk tales, epics, media texts, comics, and other texts. Unlike formalists, who view a text as an isolated unit, archetypal critics focus on intertextual connections. A leading proponent of archetypal criticism is Northrop Frye.
  11. 11. Strengths of this theory: This theory encourages a close and careful reading and subsequent analysis of the text. It is also an exciting and interesting theory because it can link a text or idea from 500 years ago with a text written today. Weaknesses of this theory: One concern some people have with this theory is that it limits personal interpretation. However, some personal interpretation is needed in determining which archetypal patterns the literature reflects. This theory can also be limiting because it only analyzes one aspect (archetypes) of literature.
  12. 12. Archetypal Questions to ask for Literary Criticism: What is the protagonists starting point and end point for the journey that he/she takes? How does this remind you of journeys taken by other characters in literature? What greater significance do the settings or situations convey? (Eg. Spring = rebirth) How does the protagonist link to other protagonists from other texts or real life people? What symbols or archetypes remind you of other texts you have read or other experiences you have had? (Eg. does a man with a black hat in a mystery novel make you think about how the bad guys in Westerns always wear black?)
  13. 13. Feminist Criticism Feminist literary criticism was launched in the twentieth century with Virginia Woolfs A Room of Ones Own (1929), in which the author examines why there was no female Shakespeare by highlighting the social and political conditions that made writing for women difficult or impossible. In 1969, Kate Millett examined, in Sexual Politics, how men represent women in famous texts. Since then, in conjunction with Feminist theory itself, Feminist literary critics have also examined 1. how women write their own experiences and representations 2. how women read about themselves 3. how to make feminist readings visible to readers 4. how women writers fared in given eras 5. how traditional texts by women are subversive of the social order
  14. 14. Strengths of this theory: For centuries, women in literature, the roles of both men and women and how they were represented were not a focus of literary criticism. This theory finally examines how women and men are represented and deals with the importance of women in literature. Weaknesses of this theory: If this theory is the only one applied to a text, it can be rather limiting. It only examines one element of the text.
  15. 15. Feminist Questions to ask for Literary Criticism: What is the protagonists attitude to male and female characters? How is this evident? How does this affect your response to the characters? How are women represented in the text? What roles do men and women play within family, work situations, etc. (hero, breadwinner, helper, cook, sex object)? What were the social and historical conditions for women in this period that might help us understand their roles in the text? How do women exercise their power in the text? If you were to rewrite the texts ending, what would happen to the female protagonist? The male protagonist? How and to what degree are the womens lives limited or restricted in this text?
  16. 16. Marxist Criticism Background: Marxism, which emerged in the nineteenth century as a result of the theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, concerns itself with the economic struggles for power between the working class and the ruling class. These two men believed in an eventual classless society with communal ownership of all natural and industrial resources. When Marxist theories are applied to literature, they provide a means for assessing the social significance of a text. Marxist criticism believes that literature is one form of cultural production of a complex society and, as such, reflects the forces shaping the societys culture. This is to say that literature is not only a mirror which reflects society. But it is also a dynamic participant in the shaping of a culture.
  17. 17. Here are some points that a Marxist literary critic considers when analyzing a text: Literature expresses the ideas, beliefs, and values of a culture. Literature of any significance actively engages in controversy or argument. Literature reveals power struggles (sexual power, economic power, social power, and so on) and how this operates and with what consequences. Literature reveals how the author, reader, and characters demonstrate an awareness or lack or awareness of their economic and social situations and what oppresses them. Literature and