Critism Notes

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New Criticism/ Formalism:
Definition

Involves reading the text closely.
Every bit of detail is essential to interpret the text.
Interpretation will be found in the text.
Interested in the setting, characters, symbols, and point of view. •Do not look at the text with feminism, psychology, mythology, or other standpoints. •Analyze irony, paradox, imagery, and metaphors.

Historical Development

Methodology

20th century critics looked at historical and biographical researches. •They tried to figure out how the writer’s past influenced the text. •Extrinsic Analysis: looking at elements outside of the text to interpret it.

Look at the text’s diction; look at the denotation, connotation, and etymological roots of all the words in the text. •Examine all allusions found within the text.
Analyze all images, symbols, and figures of speech in the text.

Reader Response:

Definition

Historical Development

Explores reader’s role in the finding of the meaning.
The reader makes the meaning.
Says works aren’t universal.
It is the opposite of formalism.

Became more common in the 1970’s.
Roots can be traced back to the 1920’s and 1930’s.
You can’t put a date to RR’s origins because reader’s always respond to what they read.

Methodology

Assumption that readers are passive.
Readers absorb the text.
Reader’s responses will be different depending on their background, world knowledge, vocabulary. •Every text is different and every person is different.
Not all interpretations are valid or of equal importance.

Uses wide variety of critical approaches.
Reader Response critics fall into one of three groups.
Each group has its own distinct theoretical and methodological concerns. Structuralism:

Definition

Think about the world in structures and description of structures. •Every element in a situation has no significance by itself. •Every element is determined by all the other elements involved. •Something can’t be significant if it isn’t whole.

All human activity is constructed, not natural.

Historical Development

Through the 19th century and into early 20th century philology was the science of language. •Philologists described, compared, and analyzed the languages of the world to find similarities and relationships. •Traced language change throughout long expanses of time. •A poem should be unified.

It should be thematically significant.
Significance can take the form of reflection in poetry.

Psychoanalytic Criticism:
Definition

Application of specific psychological principals to study literature. •Focus of writer’s psyche.
Study the creative process.
Study of psychological types and principles present within works of literature. •Id: completely unconscious part of the psyche that stores our desires, wishes, and fears. •Ego: mostly to partially conscious part of the psyche that processes experiences. •Superego: often thought of as one’s “conscience”.

Unconscious: irrational part of the psyche.

Historical Development

Dynamic model: asserting that our minds are a dichotomy consisting of the rational and the irrational. •The irrational part of the psyche receives and stores our hidden desires, ambition, fears, passions, and irrational thoughts. •The unconscious is a storehouse of disguised truths and desires that want to be revealed in and through the conscious. •The conscious perceives and records external reality and is the reasoning part of the mind. Feminism:

Definition

Focused on the impact of gender on writing and reading.
Begins with a critique of patriarchal culture.
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