What is Literary Criticism?

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An animated overview of the different types of literary criticism.

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What is Literary Criticism?: 

What is Literary Criticism? Click for next 

Origins of Literary Criticism: 

Origins of Literary Criticism Aristotle believed that an author’s intent could be understood by examining seven different causes: Chance Nature Compulsion Habit Reason Passion Desire Click for next 

Criticism: 

Criticism When you hear “criticism,” you might automatically think about pointing out weaknesses or failures . However, criticism can be favorable as well as unfavorable. Click for next 

Literary criticism: 

Literary criticism Literary criticism helps interpret the meaning of a short story, poem, or play. Literary criticism is an attempt to understand and ultimately evaluate what an author has created. Let me explain this to you… Click for next 

Literary criticism: 

Literary criticism Literary criticism of a work usually offers: interpretation of its meaning analysis of its structure and style judgment of its worth by comparison with other works estimation of its likely effect on readers Click for next 

Literary criticism: 

Literary criticism Literary criticism can be applied to a… genre an author's writings as a whole a specific literary work Click for next 

The Critical Process – Basic Steps: 

The Critical Process – Basic Steps Understanding what the text says The book begins with…and then…in the end… Wow…she really gets this! 2) Analyzing literary elements such as plot, character, point of view, symbolism, irony etc… Click for next 

The Critical Process – Basic Steps: 

The Critical Process – Basic Steps 3) Interpreting the literature by making broad observations or generalizations of the theme 4) Evaluating the literature by applying specific criteria Click for next 

Literary Criticism… What’s the Purpose? : 

Literary Criticism… What’s the Purpose ? Click for next 

What purpose does literary criticism serve? : 

What purpose does literary criticism serve? Literary criticism helps to e xplain a work and its underlying principles to readers who may not fully understand the text I’m having a little difficulty with Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms… Click for next 

What purpose does literary criticism serve? : 

What purpose does literary criticism serve? Literary criticism helps i nterpret works to readers who might otherwise fail to understand or appreciate them Without Literary Criticism (Before) With Literary Criticism (After) Click for next 

What purpose does literary criticism serve? : 

What purpose does literary criticism serve? Literary criticism helps discover and apply principles that describe “good literature” Literature Click for next 

What purpose does literary criticism serve? : 

What purpose does literary criticism serve? Literary criticism examines how Culture Politics Gender Popular ideologies History Psychology Author’s life affect interpretation of literature. Click for next 

What purpose does literary criticism serve? : 

What purpose does literary criticism serve? Literary criticism helps establish clearly defined standards of evaluation Literature Evaluation Click for next 

What purpose does literary criticism serve? : 

What purpose does literary criticism serve? Literary criticism helps to j ustify imaginative literature in a world that finds its value questionable Imaginative literature…who needs it?? Click for next 

Types of Literary Criticism: 

Types of Literary Criticism Click for next 

Types of Literary Criticism: 

Types of Literary Criticism Literary criticism helps the reader view the text through a different lens. Imagine how your view would change with each colored lens… Click for next 

Reader Response Criticism : 

Reader Response Criticism Text-------Meaning------Reader Click for next 

Reader Response Criticism: 

Reader Response Criticism Reader Response stresses the importance of the reader's role in interpreting texts. No single, fixed meaning is inherent in every literary work. The protagonist is afraid of moving forward… The protagonist is playing it safe… Click for next 

Reader Response Criticism: 

Reader Response Criticism The reader creates his or her own meaning through a "transaction" with the text. Readers bring emotions, concerns, life experiences, and knowledge to their reading ; therefore, each interpretation is subjective and unique. Click for next 

Reader Response Criticism: 

Reader Response Criticism Besides Reader Response, what other types of literary criticism can be applied to texts? Click for next 

Formalist / or “New” Criticism : 

Formalist / or “New” Criticism The whole text and nothing but the text Click for next 

Formalist / or “New” Criticism : 

Formalist / or “New” Criticism New Critics treat a work of literature as if it were a self-contained, self-referential object . I alone have the meaning… Click for next 

Formalist / or “New” Criticism : 

Formalist / or “New” Criticism New Critics do not look at: the reader’s response the author’s stated intentions historical contexts author’s life I am the book, and the book stands alone Click for next 

Formalist / or “New” Criticism : 

Formalist / or “New” Criticism New Critics perform a close reading , concentrating on the words and structures within the text that give it its own distinctive character or form. Click for next 

Formalist / or “New” Criticism : 

Formalist / or “New” Criticism The formalist critic would Closely read the words in the text Examine the text only , not allowing any influences outside the text influence interpretation Need meaning? Look no further than right here… Click for next 

Feminist Criticism : 

Feminist Criticism It’s all about gender -or- gender means nothing Click for next 

Feminist Criticism : 

Feminist Criticism A Feminist Critic would approach the text by assuming: that all literature reflects or promotes patriarchy (Men control a disproportionately large share of power) Click for next 

Feminist Criticism : 

Feminist Criticism A Feminist Critic would approach the text by assuming: that the text reflects society’s view of women as outsiders or inferiors in terms of their place with men that women are sociologically underrepresented Click for next 

Feminist Criticism : 

Feminist Criticism Feminist critics may argue that gender determines everything that all gender differences are imposed by society, and gender determines nothing or just the opposite: ALL? NOTHING? Gender… Click for next 

Feminist Criticism : 

Feminist Criticism reinforces the idea that literatur e is a profound element in the maintenance of male power and privilege . Click for next 

Feminist Criticism : 

Feminist Criticism provides a new perspective on literature and the canon from the point of view of an oppressed, excluded minority Click for next 

Feminist Criticism : 

Feminist Criticism has expanded the canon to include many previously excluded women authors Click for next 

Marxist Criticism: 

Marxist Criticism To have or have not Click for next 

Marxist Criticism: 

Marxist Criticism What is Marxism? Marxism is an economic and social system based upon the political and economic theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels . Click for next 

Marxist Criticism : 

Marxist Criticism Marxist literary critics focus upon: economic issues plight of working class capitalist control Marxist Criticism Vs. Click for next 

PowerPoint Presentation: 

Marxist literary critics focus upon: ideological oppression of a dominant ( wealthy ) class over subordinate ( poorer ) classes Marxist Criticism Click for next 

Marxist Criticism: 

Marxist Criticism What do Marxist literary critics do with texts? Examine class structure and living conditions of the poor, working class Look for indications that the working poor are oppressed Click for next 

Marxist Criticism: 

Marxist Criticism A Marxist critic might ask the following questions: Does the text reflect a dominant capitalist ideology ? Does the main character accept or resist bourgeoisie values ? Click for next 

Marxist Criticism: 

Marxist Criticism Are lower economic groups ignored or devalued? Are values that support the dominant economic group given privilege? Click for next 

Historical Criticism: 

Historical Criticism Historical accuracy is key Click for next 

PowerPoint Presentation: 

Historical critics believe it is necessary to know about the political , economical , and sociological context of the stories to truly understand the meaning. Historical Criticism Click for next 

Historical Criticism : 

Historical Criticism Critics examine actual historical setting context. Historical critics see works as the reflection of the characters' life and times . Historical Criticism Click for next 

Historical Criticism : 

Historical Criticism Historical Criticism is linked to Authorial Criticism, as the author’s environment often manifests in his/her writing. Historical Criticism Click for next 

Historical Criticism : 

Historical Criticism Historical Critics examine a piece of literature in terms of what it says about a specific time/place in history . Historical Criticism Click for next 

Historical Criticism : 

Historical Criticism Historical Critics often check the accuracy of facts and/or look for new facts that historians may have overlooked/ignored. Historical Criticism Click for next 

Psychoanalytic Criticism : 

Psychoanalytic Criticism It’s all in your mind Click for next 

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Psychoanalytic critics view literature through the lens of psychology They apply psychological theory about the workings of the human mind to a story’s characters Psychoanalytic Criticism Click for next 

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Psychological critics examine psychological motivations of characters do not diagnose, but make predictions based upon patterns of psychology Psychoanalytic Criticism Click for next 

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Psychoanalytic Criticism is often Freudian (based upon the theories of Sigmund Freud) Psychoanalytic Criticism Click for next 

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Psychoanalytic Criticism : 

Psychoanalytic Criticism Psychoanalytic critics ask: why the author created such a text, particularly focusing on what may have been unconscious motivations You say you want a cheeseburger and fries, but all I hear is “I need love.” Click for next 

Psychoanalytic Criticism : 

Psychoanalytic Criticism Psychoanalytic critics ask: why the character acted a certain way, again particularly focusing on unconscious motivations Click for next 

Psychoanalytic Criticism : 

Psychoanalytic Criticism Psychoanalytic critics ask: how the reader’s unconscious “motivated” a particular reaction to the text Click for next 

Authorial Criticism : 

Authorial Criticism To know the meaning, you must know the author Click for next 

Authorial Criticism : 

Authorial Criticism Authorial critics see works as the reflection of the author's life and times Click for next 

Authorial Criticism : 

Authorial Criticism Authorial critics believe it is necessary to know about the author in order to truly understand his works. Click for next 

Authorial Criticism : 

Authorial Criticism Authorial critics study the biography of the author and... Relate author’s life to the text for meaning Click for next 

Authorial Criticism : 

Authorial Criticism Authorial critics study the biography of the author and... Examine the author’s acquaintances, friends, and relatives for character origins Click for next 

Authorial Criticism : 

Authorial Criticism Authorial critics study the biography of the author and... Attempt to determine what facts from the author’s life appear in the text Click for next 

In Summary…: 

In Summary… A quick review… Click for next 

In Summary...: 

In Summary ... Literary criticism attempts to explain and evaluate literature. Critics attempt to create meaning by examining many factors. Click for next 

In Summary...: 

In Summary... Types of Literary Criticism include: Reader-Response Criticism Formalist/New Criticism Feminist Criticism Marxist Criticism Historical Criticism Psychoanalytic Criticism Authorial Criticism Click for next 

For more information: : 

For more information: The Internet Public Library (IPL) Online Literary Criticism Guide http://www.ipl.org/div/litcrit/guide.html Click for next 

Remember that texts can have more than one meaning. : 

Remember that texts can have more than one meaning. End of presentation. Click for next 