Critical Strategies for reading

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Last updated: April 26, 2019
Critical thinking
– take into account critical sources thtat comment on and interpret the work- Any given strategy raises its own types of questions and issues while seeking particular kinds of evidence to support itself.

– An awareness of the assumptions and methods that inform an approach can help you to understand better the validity and value of a given critic’s strategy for making sense of a work.

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describes how a character, symbol, or rhyme scheme supports a theme. – these same skills are also useful for reading literary criticism because they allow you to keep track of how the parts of a critical approach create a particular reading of a literary work.

formalistic approach
a critical approach that analyzes, interprets, or evaluates the inherent features of a text.

These features include not only grammar and syntax, but also literary devices such as meter and tropes.

literary criticism
the study, analysis, and evaluation of imaginative literature

Biographical approach
This approach “begins with the simple but central insight that literature is written by actual people and that understanding an author’s life can help readers more thoroughly comprehend the work.” – Biographical strategies: knowledge of an author’s life can help readers understand his or her work more fully. – many readers find biography useful for interpretation.

Physiological approach
1. An investigation of “the creative process of the artist: what is the nature of literary genius and how does it relate to normal mental functions?”2. The psychological study of a particular artist, usually noting how an author’s biographical circumstances affect or influence their motivations and/or behavior.3.

The analysis of fictional characters using the language and methods of psychology.- Psychological approaches to literature draw on Freud’s theories and other psychoanalytic theories to understand more fully the text, the writer, and the reader. Critics use such approaches to explore the motivations of characters and the symbolic meanings of events, while biographers speculate about a writer’s own motivations- conscious or unconscious – in a literary work. – also used to describe and analyze the reader’s personal responses to a text

Historical approach
This approach “seeks to understand a literary work by investigating the social, cultural, and intellectual context that produced it-a context that necessarily includes the artist’s biography and milieu.” A key goal for historical critics is to understand the effect of a literary work upon its original readers.

Mythological readings
represent the broadest approach.

Marxist critic
The Marxist critic simply is a careful reader or viewer who keeps in mind issues of power and money, and any of the following kinds of questions:

Formalist critic
focus on the formal elements of a work- its language, structure, and tone.- reads literature as an independent work of art rather than as a reflection of the author’s state of mind or as a representation of a moment in history.

Political correctness
bitter arguments

offer intense examinations of the relationship between form and meaning within a work, emphasizing the subtle complexity of how a work is arranged.

Historical strategies
Historians sometimes use literature as a window onto the past because literature frequently provides the nuances of a historic period that cannot be readily perceived through other sources. – Another way of approaching the relationship between literature and history, however, is to use history as a means of understanding a literary work more clearly.

Literary historians
shift the emphasis from the period to the work.

New Historicist Criticism
emphasizes the interaction between the historic context of a work and a modern reader’s understanding and interpretation of the work.

Cultural critics
focus on the historical contexts of a literary work, but pay particular attention to popular manifestations of social, political, and economic contexts.

Gender critics.

explore how ideas about men and women- what is masculine and feminine- can be regarded as socially constructed by particular cultures.

Feminist Criticism
they seek to correct or supplement what they regard as a predominantly male-dominated critical perspective with a feminist consciousness. Analyses often have sociopolitical purposes- explaining, for example, how images of women in literature reflect the patriarchal social forces that have impeded women’s efforts to achieve full equality with men. Feminists have analyzed literature by both men and women in an effort to understand literary representations of women as well as the writers and cultures that create them.

Gay and lesbian critics
focus on a variety of issues, including how homosexuals are represented in literature, how they read literature, and whether sexuality and gender are culturally constructed or innate.

Mythological strategies
Mythological approaches to literature attempt to identify what in a work creates a deep universal response to the readers.

Mythological critics interpret the hopes, fears, and expectations of entire cultures (opposite of psychological critics interpretation). – Literary critics use myths as a strategy for understanding how human beings try to account for their lives symbolically. Myths attempt to explain what otherwise seems unexplainable: a people’s orgin, purpose, and destiny.

Reader Response strategies
focuses its attention on the reader rather than the work itself.

this approach to literature describes what goes on in the reader’s mind during the process of reading a text- all reader-response critics aim to describe the reader’s experience of a work with certain expectations and assumptions, which are either met or not met.

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