AP English Lit Critical Perspectives

Topics: Culture

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Last updated: May 8, 2019

Formalist
The standard way of analyzing things. Emphasis on the form of a literary work to determine its meaning, focusing on literary elements (plot, character, setting, diction, imagery, structure, pov).

Sociological
Analyzing from a view of society at the time, focusing on the the values of a society and how those values are reflected, particularly analyzing the power relations and issues discussed in the work and their relation to the relations and issues of the time.

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Marxist
Examination of literature for its reflection of how dominant elites exploit subordinate groups, and how people become isolated from each other.

They seek to understand the roles of money and power in the work.

Feminist
This perspective analyzes the social, economic, and cultural aspects of the works, especially in relation to what they reveal about the role, position, and influence of women.

Reader Response
This raises the question of where literary meaning resides: the text, the reader, or in-between the two. Some see it as a mirror and others as a way to make inferences “between the lines.”

Mythological
Analyzes literary works from the view of the recurring themes found in stories throughout time. Ex- birth, death, coming of age, universally understood human activities.

Structuralist
A view of literary works from the structure of the words and sentences, as well as their denotation, connotation, and meaning in context, even their meaning in other languages.

Deconstructive
This perspective looks at opposites in literary works, and also notes the how the themes of the work relate to the structure of the words. Language is self-contradictory and self-destroying, and the work does not mean what it appears to mean.

Cultural Studies
Indicates a wide range of critical approaches to the study of literature and society.

Including several other perspectives, and a wide range of interdisciplinary studies (area and racial studies). The broadest of all the perspectives.

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