Critical Approaches to Literature

Topics: ArtSymbolism

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Last updated: April 24, 2019

Formalism
-Piece of literature = complete within itself-Strictly interpret text itself-Traditional analyzing and criticism-No outside sources

Historical
-Certain time in history / personal life affects literature-Specialized with the past

Biographical
-Author’s life + impact on literature-Rooted in real life experience

Cultural
-Cultural artifacts + historical context-Author’s culture at the time affects literature

Marxist
-Literature is historical artifact driven by economics/class struggle-Fine arts = privileged class

Psychological
-Through author’s / characters’ psyche, mindset, and thoughts-Grasp of human motivation/senses-Sigmund Freud’s theories –> characters’ subconscious motivations, defenses, inner conflicts, behavior, symbolism

Mythological and Archetypal
-Characters represent legends/myths/etc.-Myths, religions, legends, literature from around the world and throughout history-Character usually challenged, gains wisdom/insight by the end of heroic journey

Gender Focus
-Overall mentality + author’s / characters’ genders-Gender roles, sexual identity, relationships, roles in society, etc.

Reader Response
-Immediate thoughts on literature-Critic approaches literature w/ their own experiences and points of view-Unique to each reader

Deconstruction
-Goes a step further than regular criticism-Words are incapable of accurately expressing meaning, so literature is unstable and vulnerable to being deconstructed-Look for the way that elements contradict each other and undermine coherence-Opposite of a formalist

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