New Criticism and Its Application on Jake Allsop's Gossip

Topics: Literary criticism, New Criticism, Cleanth Brooks Pages: 7 (2136 words) Published: December 27, 2014

Essay of ‘New Criticism’ Approach and its Application on Jake Allsop’s “Gossip”

Aditya Rizky Ramatio
Yuni Astuti
Edwin Yogi Andrean
Laksmi Nuraningsih
Literary Criticism
Wednesday, 13.00 – 14.40 p.m.

‘New Criticism’

Upon close examination of these discussion questions, a distinct pattern or methodology quickly becomes evident. This interpretative model begins with a close analysis of the poem’s individual words, including both denotative and connotative meanings, and then move to a discussion of possible allusions within the text. The critic’s sharp eye also notes any symbols, either public or private, used by the poet. The poem’s overall meaning or form, then, depends solely on the text in front of the reader. No library research, no studying of the author’s life and times, and no other extraneous information is needed, for the poem itself contains all necessary information to discover its meaning.

This method of analysis become the dominant school of thought during the first two thirds of the twentieth century in most high school and college literature classes, English departments, and English and American scholarship. Known as New Criticism, this approach to literary analysis provides the reader with the formula for arriving at the correct interpretation of a text using only the text itself. Using New Criticism’s clearly articulated methodology, any intelligent reader, say the New Critics, can uncover a text’s hitherto hidden meaning.

New Criticism’s theoretical ideas, terminology, and critical methods are, more often than not, disparaged by present-day critics, who themselves are introducing new ideas concerning literary theory. Despite its current unpopularity, New Criticism stands as one of the most important English-speaking contributions to literary critical analysis. Some scholarly English journals have enabled New Criticism to enrich theoretical and practical criticism while helping generation of readers to become close readers of texts.

The name New Criticism came into popular use to describe this approach to understanding literature with the 1941 publication of John Crowe Ransom’s The New Criticism, which contained Ransom’s personal analysis of several contemporary theorists and critics. In the New Criticism Ransom articulates the principles of these various groups and calls for an ontological critic, one who will recognize that a poem (used as a synonym in New Criticism for any literary work) is a concrete entity like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or the score of Handel’s Messiah or even any chemical element such as iron or gold. Like these concrete objects, a poem can be analyzed to discover its true or correct meaning independent of its author’s intention, or the emotional state, or the values and beliefs of either its author or reader. Because this belief rests at the center of this movement’s critical ideas, it is not surprising, then, that the title of Ransom’s book quickly became the official calling card for this approach to literary analysis.

At best, New Criticism and its adherents (called New Critics) are an eclectic group, each challenging, borrowing and changing terminology, theory, and practices from one another while asserting a common core of basis ideas. Their ultimate unity stems from their opposition to the prevailing methods of literary analysis found in academia in the first part of the twentieth century.

Historical Development

At the beginning of the twentieth century (often dubbed the start of the modernist period, or modernism), historical and biographical research dominated literary scholarship. Criticism’s function, many believed, was to discover the historical context of the text to ascertain how the author’s lives influenced their writings. Such extrinsic analysis (examining elements outside the text to uncover the text’s meaning) became the norm in the English departments of many American universities and colleges.

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