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Literary theories

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Solidad Reyes’ view on Literary History, Literary Theory and Literary Criticism

In an attempt to solve different problems and issues in Literary Studies such as the effects of major trends to modern Philippine Literature, role of the audience and critics in studying text, three areas of literary study was explained, literary history, literary theory and literary criticism and their integration to Philippine Literature. Each area was explained based on their individual roles or impacts in the study of Philippine Literature.
The first area discussed was literary history, stating that among the three, this area is mostly used or studied by various scholars. Reasons for this are very obvious, history a big part of everything. Through the study of literary history, their view of the texts published in modern day will be affected. Even the content of present texts are very much affected, examples of these would be collections of autobiographies of past individuals and other recollections of various past events. Literary history also tries to put the reader to a particular period in time, specifically from the past.
The study of this area also changed the standards of critics, which led to the stricter reviewing of old text as to whether or not they are going to be considered or given the label of Philippine Literature which ,by what the critics want, pertains not only to texts in Tagalog-speaking regions but also including those from different ethnic groups. Basically they want Philippine Literature to refer to really the literature of the whole Philippines. These standards eventually led to the change of interest of writers, many of them started writing in their own regional dialects and eventually like what English literature offered, different genres of literature are now available in many regional dialects. Through this, not only are their culture being reflected but also a significant period of time in their tribe. Also, writers occasionally write from different perspectives to allow readers to understand the text from a specific standpoint.
Even though these effects are still not concrete achievements of the literary works, these are great signs of an increase in the level of seriousness in literary scholarship.

The second area, Literary Criticism began in the Philippines when historical texts were discovered to be proper material for explication in the postwar period during the sixties. In the early works of criticism in Philippine Literature, Filipino writers were the focus of the study since they were considered to be worthy of formal exegesis. Meaning their works were reviewed, studied and again critically interpreted.
During the seventies, critics of this period took for granted what earlier critics introduced as “significant facts”. They did this without questioning the criteria for such normative judgements.
There was also another difference between critics of the sixties and those of the seventies. Sixties critics looked at the relationship between the writer and his text, whilst those from the seventies gave effort to emphasize the relationship between the text and its historical context.
Between the sixties and the seventies, this was the period of great activism thus writers showed a more committed stance to their beliefs and perspectives during this period. These writers were able to understand well the great role of criticism as a means to politicize.

The last area discussed is literary theory. Literary studies before never really considered theories in analyzing various texts. Many Filipino thinkers also admit that this area receives very little attention. Thus, theories introduced are not really studied or analyzed by scholars resulting to the assortment of ideas but none of them carrying authority or legitimate recognition from many literary scholars. These are easily passed information, and because it lacks a concrete explanation, the uniqueness of each theory is lost. Each theory is changed as it is passed on to another.
During the sixties, no substantial discussion of literary had taken place. Another proof that it really doesn’t receive that much of attention thus it was never really developed during earlier period of time. Sixties writers and critics were content on following certain models derived from old texts or readings.
Eventually, years later, a number of Filipino critics started to venture into literary theory. Each critic varied with one another in terms of their interests, influences and ofcourse ideas. Nonetheless, their combined efforts worked in an attempt to provide a theoretical framework for the study of literary works. Acting as a common denominator between the critics is each writer’s effort to explain critical assumptions that affect their analysis of texts.
To a name a few important people, there is Dimalanta, Abad, Nudas and Almario. Each of them provided key ideas to help establish the theoretical framework that critics wanted so much to use in analyzing Philippine Literature. A common thing among the four of them is that they all worked with texts written in English. Their ideas, though very different from each other, made a huge impact in literary study. The diversity in their perspectives helped a lot in the shaping of the thinking of various Filipino critics and theorists.
Literary Theory in Philippine Literature continuously developed. The need to theorize for the purpose of understanding Philippine Literature is now an acceptable condition. Some studies have appeared espousing certain beliefs regarding the nature of a critical enterprise and each one viewing the object of study from a particular perspective. Books of this nature are still being published implies that scholars have now realized the importance of literary theory and the need to keep it an ongoing enterprise until we finally develop our own collection of theoretical works that would correspond to the needs of studying, analyzing, interpreting and understanding Philippine Literature.

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