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Literary theory and literary criticism - Essay Example

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Literary theory and literary criticism are interpretive tools that help us think more deeply and insightfully about the literature that we read. The most common way of thinking about literary theory is that these ideas are representative of different lenses used by critics to view and talk about art, literature and to some extent culture (Makaryk, 11). …
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Literary theory and literary criticism

Download file to see previous pages... These different lenses allow critics to consider works of art based on some assumptions within that school of theory. In addition, these lenses enable critics on particular aspects of work they consider vital. For instance, a critic working on Marxist theory might focus on how the characters in a story interact based on their economic situation; while a critic working on post-colonial theory might consider the same story but look at how characters from colonial powers treat those from the colonies (Makaryk, 77). Over time, different literature schools of literary criticism have developed, each with its own approaches to the act of reading (Davis, 66). New criticism assumes that the literary work is autonomous. This autonomy is a concept that can be explicated so as to discover its organic unity and the relationship between medium and message. Although critics, philosophers, authors and educators have been writing since ancient times, contemporary schools of literary theory have cohered from these discussions and now influence how scholars look at and write about literature. This section focuses on the focuses on the major schools of literary criticism (Davis, 98). 1) Formalist approach Formalist approach was developed as a response to the 19th century confusion that marked the work of literature and biography, morality or philosophy (Culler, 109). It entails an explicit look at the components of a work which helps an individual to enter a text even if the he does not agree with the method’s aesthetic, apolitical, disinterested, reserved judgment concerning the content. This is a literacy criticism method that not only applies to texts but also to movies (Culler, 19). The following is the basic structure of analyzing a literary content using formalist approach, specifically through answering these basic questions: a) Plot, narrative line and plain sense Is there any action? How important is the action and why? What is the nature and significance of the action? Is the overall structure of the movie appropriate to the content? And is the action compressed, large and diffuse or episodic? What is the basic plot structure? Is it melodramatic, dramatic, impasse, linear or a variation or a combination or assault on these forms? And why? How is the conflict created? What is the nature of the conflict? Why? What is the meaning of the story line? Is the plot probable or plausible? b) Character (s) What is the motivation structure of the character? What roles are played by the minor characters, if any? Are the characters individuals or types? Why? Is there existence of character contrasts or parallels? c) Special effects Who tells the story? Is there a characteristic use of language? What is the language of the author? General, plain, metaphorical, precise, effusive, repetitious, economical, realistic and naturalistic? What role is played by the setting, physical description or dramatic scene play? Is there an existence of deep structure such as mythic or archetypal modes that underlies the surface of the work? d) Emotional effects What emotional effects occur? To what extend? What is the relationship of the emotional response to the plot or situation and characters 2) Reader-Response Criticism The literary criticism theory was developed in the early 1960s and has been applicable up to the present. The most known proponents of this theory include; Peter Rabinowitz, Stanley Fish, Elizabeth Freund, David Bleich, Normal Holland, Louise Rosenblatt, Wolfgang Iser and Hans Rober Jauss (Davis, 22). Basically, reader-response criticism considers readers/viewers reaction to literature as vital to interpreting the meaning of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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