Skills Lesson: Theories of Literary Interpretation

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Last updated: December 13, 2019

Which school of theory believes that art reflects the artist’s unconscious desires and fears?A. psycholanalytic criticismB. feminist criticismC. formalismD.

structuralism

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A. psycholanalytic criticism

Consider the principles of the school of formalism. Which type of theory (according to M. H.

Abrams) explains the focus of the school of formalism best?A. formalB. rhetorical C. mimeticD. expressive

A. Formal

Which statement about literary theories is true?A. Each theory is a different eyeglass through which to look at literature.B.

Each theory reveals the exact interpretation of a given piece of text.C. Theories are not practical and should not be considered when analyzing literature.D. Theories are complex and should not be used unless one has a degree in English literature.

A.

Each theory is a different eyeglass through which to look at literature

Theories that focus on the aesthetic relationship between parts within a work are known as __________ theories.expressiveformalrhetoricalmimetic
Formal

Consider a target circle. As one moves further from the center for the circle, what happens to the interpretation?A. The interpretation moves farther away from the text.B. The interpretation moves closer to the text.C.

The interpretation gets more specific and less general.D. The interpretation becomes more scientific.

A. The interpretation moves farther away from the text

Read the poem below and answer the question that follows.

“Introduction to Poetry”by Billy CollinsI ask them to take a poemand hold it up to the lightlike a color slide or press an ear against its hive. I say drop a mouse into a poemand watch him probe his way out, or walk inside the poem’s roomand feel the walls for a light switch.I want them to waterskiacross the surface of a poemwaving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to dois tie the poem to a chair with ropeand torture a confession out of it. They begin beating it with a hoseto find out what it really means.Which type of literary theory would examine the relationship between the poem and Billy Collins?mimeticexpressiverhetoricalformal

Expressive

According to M.

H. Abrams, theories that are focused on the relationship between the work of art and the artist are called __________ theories.formalmimeticexpressiverhetorical

Expressive

What are the four types of literary theories according to literary historian M. H. Abrams?A. critical, theoretical, practical, and otherworldlyB. mimetic, rhetorical, expressive, and formalC.

critical, reflective, analytical, and quarterlyD. reflective, persuasive, emotional, and structural

B. mimetic, rhetorical, expressive, and formal

How many literary theories are still acceptable to use in literary analysis?A.

All literary theories are acceptable to use.B. Five literary theories are still in use today.

C. Seven literary theories are still in use today.D.

No literary theories are still in use today.

A. All literary theories are acceptable to use

According to the lecture, to examine one piece of literature through the viewpoint of multiple literary theories is __________.destructiveforbiddenbackwardinformative
Informative

“Apology”by Richard WilburA word sticks in the wind’s throat;A wind-launch drifts in the swells of rye;Sometimes, in broad silence,The hanging apples distil their darkness.

You, in a green dress, calling, and with brown hair,Who come by the field-path now, whose name I saySoftly, forgive me love if also I call youWind’s word, apple-heart, haven of grasses.Source: Wilbur, Richard. “Apology.” Collected Poems: 1943-2004.

Orlando: Harcourt Books, 2004. Print. What would a formal interpretation of the poem focus on?a reflection of patriarchal society in the poemthe author’s biography and psychologythe reader’s interaction with the poemthe literary qualities and elements

The literary qualities and elements

Which word belongs in the circle marked “1”?historicalformalbiographicalpoem
Poem

As one moves further from the center fo the circle, what happens to the interpretation?The interpretation moves farther away from the text.The interpretation moves closer to the text.

The interpretation gets more specific and less general.The interpretation becomes more scientific.

The interpretation moves farther away from the text

Consider the principles underlying Aristotle’s theory of dramatic construction. According to M. H.

Abrams, which type of theory is dramatic construction?mimeticrhetoricalexpressiveformal

rhetorical

“Introduction to Poetry”by Billy CollinsI ask them to take a poemand hold it up to the lightlike a color slide or press an ear against its hive. I say drop a mouse into a poemand watch him probe his way out, or walk inside the poem’s roomand feel the walls for a light switch. I want them to waterskiacross the surface of a poemwaving at the author’s name on the shore. But all they want to dois tie the poem to a chair with ropeand torture a confession out of it. They begin beating it with a hoseto find out what it really means.Source: Collins, Billy. “Introduction to Poetry.” Poets.

org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web.

4 Apr. 2011. What would a dramatic constructionist critic focus on when interpreting this poem?the extent to which the poem achieves its intended objectivethe frustration that Billy Collins must feelthe main lesson or instruction of the poemthe literary elements and qualities in the poem

the extent to which the poem achieves its intended objective

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