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CriticalApproachestoFiction
NewCriticism
BiographicalCriticism
NewHistoricism
Psychological Criticism
SociologicalCriticism
GenderStudies
Ecocriticism
ReaderResponse PsychologicalCriticism
MythologicalCriticism
ReaderResponse
Criticism
Postmodernism
NewCriticism
NewCriticismisalsoknownas Formalism,
sinceitisconcernedwiththeformalelements
offiction.
New Criticism concerns itself exclusively with NewCriticismconcernsitselfexclusivelywith
thetext,subjectingittoatextualanalysis,or
closereading,torevealtheelementsoffiction
(Bohner andGrant1327).
NewCriticism
NewCriticismignoreswhotheauthoris,the
timeperiodduringwhichtheworkwas
written,theemotionalimpactithasonthe
reader and anything else other than the text reader,andanythingelseotherthanthetext
itself.
NewCriticismcontendsthatliteratureis
essentiallyamoralandapolitical(Bohner and
Grant132728)
NewCriticism
TheIntentionalFallacy: thattheauthors
intentioncanbeknowableandthusimportant
intheinterpretationoftexts.
The Affective Fallacy: that the readers TheAffectiveFallacy: thatthereader s
emotionalresponsecanbepredictableand
thusimportantintheinterpretationoftexts
(Bohner andGrant1328)
NewCriticism
All art is quite useless.
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
NewCriticism
The analysis of the separate elements of a work,
such as the composition, style, rhythm, and
syntax in prose provides sufficient evidence
that theseelements canbeabstractedasa that these elements can be abstracted as a
working hypothesis.
Yuri Tynyanov, On Literary Evolution (1927)
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NewCriticism
The direct study of the authors psychology and
the construction of a causal bridge from the
authors environment, daily life, and class to
hisworksisparticularlyfruitless his works is particularly fruitless.
Yuri Tynyanov, On Literary Evolution (1927)
NewCriticism
Fairy tales exhibit thirty-one functions, not all
of which may be found in any one fairy tale;
however, the absence of certain functions does
not interferewiththeorder of theappearance not interfere with the order of the appearance
of the others.
Vladimir Propp, Fairy Tale Transformations
(1971)
NewCriticism
works of literary art justify critical
consideration primarily for their own sake, as
artistic structures, rather than merely for the
sake of the knowledge or wisdom they express
or the practical utility we may derive from
them.
R. S. Crane, Toward a More Accurate Criticism
of Poetic Structure (1953)
NewCriticism
words, images, symbols, thoughts, character
traits, incidents, devices of representation
are made to function in relation to a formal
wholewhichwecanwarrantablyassert was whole which we can warrantablyassert was
the actual final cause of its composition.
R. S. Crane, Toward a More Accurate Criticism
of Poetic Structure (1953)
BiographicalCriticism
BiographicalCriticisminvolvesusing
knowledgeaboutawriterslifetointerpret
thatauthorsworks.
Before the twentieth century many critics Beforethetwentiethcentury,manycritics
believedthatwriterswereintellectuallyand
spirituallysuperiorbeings,andthustheirlives
wereofgreatimportanceinunderstanding
theirworks(Bohner andGrant1329).
BiographicalCriticism
BiographicalCriticismenablesthereader:
tounderstandhowawriteradaptedreallife
situations,places,andeventsinhisorherwork;
to gauge how a writers work evolved in response togaugehowawriter sworkevolvedinresponse
tocrisesandissuesinhisorherlife;and
tolearnabouttheaudienceoraudiencesfor
whichawriterwishedtodirecthisorherwork
(Bohner andGrant1329).
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BiographicalCriticism
Were we called upon to designate that class of
composition which should best fulfill the
demands of high genius we should
unhesitatingly speak of the prose tale, as Mr
H th h lifi dit Of M Hawthorne has exemplified it. Of Mr
Hawthornes Tales we would say, emphatically,
that they belong to the highest region of Art--an
art subservient to genius of a very lofty order.
Edgar Allan Poe, The Brief Prose Tale (1842)
BiographicalCriticism
a Poet is endued with more lively sensibility,
more enthusiasmand tenderness, who has a greater
knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive
soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind;
a man who rejoices more than other men in the spirit j p
of life delighting to contemplate similar volitions
and passions as manifested in the goings-on of the
Universe, and habitually impelled to create themwhere
he does not find them.
WilliamWordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1802)
BiographicalCriticism
Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended
inspiration, the mirrors of the gigantic shadows
which futurity casts upon the present the
trumpets which sing to battle, and feel not what p g ,
they inspire; the influence which is moved not,
but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged
legislators of the world.
Percy ByssheShelley, A Defence of Poetry (1840)
NewHistoricism
HistoricalCriticism usesinformationabout
thetimeperiodduringwhichaworkof
literaturewaswrittentohelpinterpretthat
work: work:
socialfactors
religiousinfluences
levelsofscientificachievement
economic,cultural,andintellectualevents,beliefs,
andassumptions(Bohner andGrant1329)
NewHistoricism
HistoricalCritics oftendividethehistoryofliterature
intohistoricallydiscretetimeperiodsandthenlookat
worksinthecontextofthoseperiods(Bohner and
Grant132930).Forexample,inBritishLiterature:
The Middle Ages (to 1485) TheMiddleAges(to1485)
TheSixteenthCentury(14851603)
TheEarlySeventeenthCentury(16031660)
TheRestorationandtheEighteenthCentury(16601785)
TheRomanticPeriod(17851830)
TheVictorianAge(18301901)
TheTwentiethCentury(from1901)
NewHistoricism
NewHistoricism is,inasense,areversal of
traditionalHistoricism:
Traditionalhistoricismuseshistorytointerpreta
work of literature workofliterature.
NewHistoricismusestheworkofliteratureto
interpretitshistoricalperiod(Bohner andGrant
1330)
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NewHistoricism
NewHistoricismseeshistoryastext.
Historyisneithermorenorlessthanthesumof
thetextsrecordedaboutit.
Literature is thus just another text that when Literatureisthusjustanothertextthat,when
combinedwithothercontemporaneoustexts
(advertisements,newspapers,biographies,etc.),
adduptoanunderstandingofagivenhistorical
period(Bohner andGrant1330).
NewHistoricism
NewHistoricismquestionstheassumptionsof
pastliterarycriticsmethods:
Literarytextsdonotpossesstranscendentor
autonomous aesthetic value: they are merely part autonomousaestheticvalue:theyaremerelypart
oftheirhistoricalmilieux.
Literarytextsdonotpossessautomaticmoral
value:theseareartificialconstructionsarrivedat
inuniversitiesintheirdesiretoformacanon
throughexclusionandsuppression(Cuddon 546).
NewHistoricism
The new historicism erodes the firm ground of
both criticism and literature. It tends to ask
questions about its own methodological
assumptionsandthoseof others assumptions and those of others.
Stephen Greenblatt, Introduction, The Power of
Forms in the English Renaissance (1982)
NewHistoricism
The critical practice represented in [the new historicism]
challenges the assumptions that guarantee a secure
distinction between literary foreground and political
background or, more generally, between artistic
production and other kinds of social production. Such p p
distinctions do in fact exist, but they are not intrinsic to
the texts; rather they are made up and constantly
redrawn by artists, audiences, and readers.
Stephen Greenblatt, Introduction, The Power of Forms in
the English Renaissance (1982)
PsychologicalCriticism
Psychology isthescienceorstudyofthe
humanmindandbehaviour.
PsychologicalCriticism isthestudyofthe
mind and behaviour of characters in literary mindandbehaviourofcharactersinliterary
works.
MuchPsychologicalCriticismhasbeen
informedbytheideasandtheoriesof
SigmundFreud(Bohner andGrant1331).
PsychologicalCriticism
Freudcontendedthatthehumanmind,or
psyche,iscomposedofthreeforces:
Theid:basicdesiresandinstincts
The superego: conscience and sense of morality Thesuperego:conscienceandsenseofmorality
Theego:anegotiationsystembetweenthe
desiresoftheidandtherulesofthesuperego
(Bohner andGrant1331)
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PsychologicalCriticism
Humansareonly
conscious ofasmall
portionoftheir
psyches,composedof
smallportionsofthe
egoandthesuperego.
Theid,conversely,is
fullysubmergedinthe
subconscious mind.
PsychologicalCriticism
Ahealthypsycheisonewhoseegohas
negotiatedwiththeidandthesuperego
withouttoomuchconflictbetweenthetwo
being suppressed into the subconscious beingsuppressedintothesubconscious.
Conflictssuppressedintothesubconscious
manifestthemselvesinneurotichuman
behaviours,fixations,andideas(Bohner and
Grant1331).
PsychologicalCriticism
Freudalsocontendedthattheegodevelops
defencemechanisms toprotectitfrom
thoughtstoodifficultfortheconsciousmind
to process: toprocess:
Denial,Repression,Suppression
Displacement,Sublimation
Projection,Intellectualization
Rationalization,Regression,Reactionformation
PsychologicalCriticism
Defencemechanismsareparticularly
importanttoliterarystudiesbecause,when
thereaderdetectsthatacharactermaybe
using a defence mechanism the reader knows usingadefencemechanism,thereaderknows
thatthecharactersegomaybeattemptingto
protectthecharacterfromthoughtsorideas
tootraumaticforthecharactersconscious
mindtoprocess.
PsychologicalCriticism
streamofconsciousness:
aliterarytechniquepopularizedatthebeginning
ofthetwentiethcentury
it strives to depict the multitudinous thoughts and itstrivestodepictthemultitudinousthoughtsand
feelingsthatpassthroughthehumanmind
Itsometimesresemblesapsychologicalfree
associationexercise
Itissometimesreferredtoasinteriormonologue
orintrospectivewriting (Cuddon 86667)
PsychologicalCriticism
The unconscious [mind] has the structure of a
language.
S i h l i d J acques Lacan, Seminar on The Purloined
Letter (1972)
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MythologicalCriticism
MythologicalCriticism seespatternsof
recurringsymbols,images,andcharactersin
theworldsmythsandreligiousstories,and
uses them to interpret literary works usesthemtointerpretliteraryworks.
Thosepatternsofrecurringsymbols,images,
andcharactersareknownasarchetypes.
Thetermarchetype wascoinedbyCarlJung
(Bohner andGrant1332).
MythologicalCriticism
CarlJunghadbeenanassociateofSigmund
Freud,buthebrokeawayfromhimtoexplore
hisconceptofthecollectiveunconscious:
The collective unconscious is a figurative reservoir Thecollectiveunconscious isafigurativereservoir
inthehumanpsychecomposedofuniversally
understoodimagesandmeanings(i.e.,
archetypes)(Bohner andGrant1332)
MythologicalCriticism
Theexistenceofthecollectiveunconsciouscan
helptoexplainhowthestoriesandmythsofone
culturecanbeunderstoodbyalmostanyother
culturewithoutexplanation(Bohner andGrant
1332).
MythologicalCriticism
Thus,byinterpretingliteraryworksintermsof
universallyrecognizablepatternsof
archetypes,amythologicalcriticcansee
universal paradigms or truths operating within universalparadigmsortruthsoperatingwithin
them.
MythologicalCriticism
the work of art has its source not in the
personal unconscious of the poet, but in a
sphere of unconscious mythology whose
primordial images are the common heritage of
mankind. I have called this sphere the
collective unconscious.
Carl J ung, On the Relation of Analytical
Psychology to Poetry (1922)
MythologicalCriticism
... what is at present missing from literary
criticism is a coordinating principle, a central
hypothesis which will see the phenomena it
dealswithaspartsof awhole deals with as parts of a whole.
Northrop Frye, The Archetypes of Literature
(1951)
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MythologicalCriticism
An archetype should be not only a unifying
category of criticism, but itself a part of a total
form. If so, then the search for archetypes is a
kind of literary anthropology, concerned with the y p gy,
way that literature is informed by preliterary
categories such as ritual, myth, and folk tale.
Northrop Frye, The Archetypes of Literature
(1951)
MythologicalCriticism
Fairy tales exhibit thirty-one functions, not all of
which may be found in any one fairy tale;
however, the absence of certain functions does not
interfere with the order of appearance of the pp
others. In all, the fairy tale knows about one
hundred and fifty elements or constituents.
Vladimir Propp, Fairy Tale Transformations
(1971)
MythologicalCriticism
Reduction
Expansion
Contamination
Inversion
Intensification
Attenuation
Literary substitution
Modification
Substitution of unknown origin
Internally motivated
assimilation
Externallymotivated
Attenuation
Internally motivated
substitution
Externally motivated
substitution
Confessional substitution
Substitution by superstition
Archaic substitution
Externally motivated
assimilation
Confessional assimilation
Assimilation viasuperstition
Literary assimilation
Archaic assimilation
Vladimir Propp, Fairy Tale
Transformations (1971)
SociologicalCriticism
SociologicalCriticism takesintoaccountthe
influencesandforcesoftheauthorstime,
place,andsocietyuponhisorherwork.
Sociological Criticism is particularly concerned SociologicalCriticismisparticularlyconcerned
withthewriterssocioeconomic,educational,
and/orpoliticalclass (Bohner andGrant1332
33).
SociologicalCriticism
SociologicalCriticismlooksatthewaysin
whichtheauthorexaminesorrepresents
manyclassrelatedideasorconceptsinhisor
her work (Bohner and Grant 1333): herwork(Bohner andGrant1333):
education literacy
race ethnicity
gender money
work industrialization
SociologicalCriticism
ThemostinfluentialsubfieldsofSociological
CriticismareMarxismandFeminism:
MarxistCriticism contendsthatliteraturereflects
the conflicts of economic power classes in society theconflictsofeconomicpowerclassesinsociety,
andthusexaminesissuesofmoneyandpower.
FeministCriticism contendsthatliteraturereflects
theconflictsbetweenmenandwomeninsociety,
andthusexaminesissuesofgenderrelations
(Bohner andGrant1333).
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SociologicalCriticism
The experience of mankind on the earth is always
changing as man develops and has to deal with
new combinations of elements; and the writer
who is to be anything more than an echo of his y g
predecessors must always ... master a new set of
phenomena which has never yet been mastered.
Edmund Wilson, The Historical Interpretation of
Literature (1948)
SociologicalCriticism
It is the view of the world, the ideology
underlying a writers work, that counts. And it
is the writers attempt to reproduce this view
of the world which constitutes his intention
and is the formative principle underlying the
style of a given piece of writing.
Georg Lukcs, The Ideology of Modernism
(1956)
SociologicalCriticism
The socialist critic does not see literature in terms
of ideology and class-struggle because they
happen to be his or her political interests,
arbitrarily projected onto literary works. Such
tt th t ff f hi t di f matters are the very stuff of history, and in so far
as literature is a historical phenomenon, they are
the very stuff of literature too.
Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction
(1983)
GenderStudies
FeministCriticism,whichisasubfieldof
SociologicalCriticism,examinesthe
representationofwomeninliterature.
Feminist Criticism is particularly concerned FeministCriticismisparticularlyconcerned
withtherepresentationofpower
relationshipsbetweenmenandwomen
(Bohner andGrant1334).
GenderStudies
Feminismhasexistedasastudysincethe
nineteenthcentury:
FirstWaveFeminism inthelatenineteenthand
early twentieth centuries focused on officially earlytwentiethcenturiesfocusedonofficially
mandatedinequalitiesbetweenmenandwomen,
suchassuffrage.
GenderStudies
SecondWaveFeminism inthe1960s,1970s,and
1980sfocusedonofficiallymandatedinequalities
betweenmenandwomen,suchaswomensrights
intheworkplace,aswellasunofficiallymandated
inequalities,suchasreproductiverights.
ThirdWaveFeminism inthe1990sand2000s
focusesonthecultural,racial,andethnicdiversity
ofwomen,anditstrivestocountersecondwave
feminismstendencytouniversalizeor
homogenizethefemaleidentity.
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GenderStudies
Inrecentyears,FeministCriticismhas
broadeneditsfocustoincludethe
representationofmembersofthelesbian,gay,
bi,trans,andqueer(LGBTQ)communities.
GenderStudies orQueerCriticism is
concernedwiththerepresentationofthese
membersofnontraditionalsexual
orientationsandgenderidentities(Bohner
andGrant1334).
GenderStudies
When one reads of a witch being ducked, of a
woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman
selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man
who had a mother, then I think we are on the track
of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute , pp p ,
and inglorious J ane Austen, some Emily Bront
who dashed her brains out on the moor and
moved about the highways crazed with the torture
that her gift had put her to.
Virginia Woolf, A Room of Ones Own (1929)
GenderStudies
For each [male writer], the ideal woman will be
she who incarnates most exactly the Other
capable of revealing him to herself.
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1953)
GenderStudies
The woman writer has entered literary
history as the enemy.
i l d f h d Nina Baym, Melodramas of Beset Manhood
(1981)
GenderStudies
Not only have Black women writers been
disenfranchised by white women scholars
on the female tradition, but they have also
been frequently excised from the Afro-
American literary tradition by Black scholars,
most of whom are males.
Deborah E. McDowell, New Directions for
Black Feminist Criticism (1980)
Ecocriticism
Ecocriticism emergedfromnaturewritingand
theenvironmentalmovement,andthusit
examinestherepresentationofthenatural
worldandthenaturallandscapeinliterature,
ratherthanthehumanelement.
Ecocriticism looksattherepresentationof
humanbeingsonlyinasmuchastheyhavea
relationshipwiththenaturalworld(Bohner
andGrant133435).
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Ecocriticism
Byexamininghumankindsrelationshipwith
thenaturalworld,ecocriticism highlights
literarythemesconcerninghumankinds
development and evolution as a species developmentandevolutionasaspecies.
Ecocritics areparticularlyconcernedwiththe
roleofsetting inliteraryworks(Bohner and
Grant1335).
Ecocriticism
Ecocriticism isalsoknownas:
EcologicalCriticism
EnvironmentalCriticism
Envirocriticism Envirocriticism
GreenCriticism
Ecocriticism
In the moral (the ecological) sense you cannot
know what until you have learned where.
d ll d l (19 2) Wendell Berry, Poetry and Place (1972)
Ecocriticism
Perhaps the commonest attraction of environmental
writing is that it increases our feel for both places
previously unknown and places known but never
so deeply felt. Environmental literature py
launches itself from the presumption that we do
not think about our surroundings, and our relation
to them, as much as we ought to.
Lawrence Buell, Place (2005)
ReaderResponseCriticism
ReaderResponseCriticism isaresponseto
NewCriticism:whereasNewCriticism
contendsthatmeaningresidesonlyinthetext
of the literary work ReaderResponse oftheliterarywork,Reader Response
Criticismarguesthatmeaningresidesalsoin
theinterpretiveprocessesofreaders(Bohner
andGrant1335).
ReaderResponseCriticism
ReaderResponseCriticismalsocontendsthat
aliteraryworkcanhaveamultiplicityof
meanings(anissuethatNewCriticismhas
trouble negotiating) because readers will bring troublenegotiating)becausereaderswillbring
theirmultiplicityofbackgroundsand
interpretivestrategiestothatwork(Bohner
andGrant1336).
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ReaderResponseCriticism
ReaderResponseCriticismacknowledgesthat
readersbringmanydifferentaspectsoftheir
knowledgeandexperiencestotheactof
interpretation (Bohner and Grant 1336): interpretation(Bohner andGrant1336):
Age Religiousbeliefs
Raceorethnicity Valuesorconcerns
Educationlevel Politicalbeliefs
Class Socioeconomicstatus
ReaderResponseCriticism
ReaderResponseCriticismisalsoconcerned
withthewayinwhichweasreadersundergo
changeaswereadaliterarywork.
Thus the importance of a work of literature is not Thus,theimportanceofaworkofliteratureisnot
whatitis,butwhatitdoes.
Meaningisdynamic,notspatial:itcanchange
overthecourseofareadingofawork(Bohner
andGrant1336).
ReaderResponseCriticism
The literary work cannot be completely
identical with the text, or with [the readers]
realization of the text, but in fact must life
halfwaybetweenthetwo halfway between the two.
Wolfgang Iser, The Reading Process (1976)
ReaderResponseCriticism
Interpretive communities are made up of those
who share interpretive strategies not for
reading (in the conventional sense) but for
writingtexts for constitutingtheir properties writing texts, for constituting their properties
and assigning their intentions
Stanley Fish, Interpreting the Variorum (1977)
ReaderResponseCriticism
It is impossible to say from a text alone how
people will respond to it. Only after we have
understood how some specific individual
responds, how the different parts of his individual
personality re-create the different details of the p y
text, can we begin to formulate general
hypotheses about the way many or all readers
respond.
Norman H. Holland, The Question: Who Reads
What How? (1975)
Postmodernism
Structuralism,likeNewCriticism,focuseson
thelinguisticstructures,orcodes,in
languagesandliteraryworks.
Of particular importance to Structuralists are OfparticularimportancetoStructuralists are
thepatternsoflinguisticstructures,especially
patternsofbinaryoppositions (e.g.,lightvs
dark,Heavenvs Hell,youngvs old,etc.)
(Bohner andGrant1337).
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Postmodernism
Structuralismhasitsrootsinthelinguistics
researchofFerdinanddeSaussure.
Saussuresawlanguageasasystemof
arbitrarily related signifiers and signifieds (i e arbitrarilyrelatedsignifiersandsignifieds (i.e.,
thethinganditsname).
Languagebecomesmeaningfulonlyif
speakersandwritersagreeonthesearbitrary
relationships(Bohner andGrant1337).
Postmodernism
Poststructuralism rejectstheideathat
agreementbetweenwritersandspeakers
abouttherelationshipbetweensignifiersand
signifieds renders that relationship stable signifieds rendersthatrelationshipstable.
Conversely,Poststructuralistsassumethat
languageisalwaysfraughtwith
contradictions,ambiguity,andambivalence
(Bohner andGrant1338).
Postmodernism
Thisinherentinstabilityintherelationship
betweensignifiersandsignifieds renders
absolutemeaninginliteratureimpossibleto
find find.
ForPoststructuralists,thislackofabsolute
meaningopensupliteraryworkstoa
multiplicityofdifferentinterpretations
(Bohner andGrant1338).
Postmodernism
Noticetheprogressivelysophisticatedlevels
ofinterpretationdifferentstrategiesoffer:
NewCriticism: seesaliteraryworkasacode,with
tensionsandconflictsthatareresolved.
Structuralism: articulatesthesetensionsand
conflictsasstablebinaryoppositions.
Poststructuralism: seesbinaryoppositionsas
unstableandthusproblematizes theideathatthe
conflictsareresolvedorevenresolvable(Bohner
andGrant1338).