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We’ll play Name That Critical

Approach game at the end, so be


ready!
 A way of talking about
literature
 The lens through which
we like to examine
literature
 For example
• People who believe that
understanding the
author’s life can help
readers better
understand his/her
work, often use
Biographical Criticism
 There are many 1. Formalist
critical approaches 2. Biographical
however here are 3. Historical
some major ones to 4. Psychological
which we may be 5. Mythological
referring: 6. Sociological
7. Gender
8. Reader-Response
9. Deconstructionist
10. Cultural Studies
 Reader-based
• Literature does not exist separate from those
who read it
• An individual’s background and feelings are part
of how they read and interpret literature
 Text-based
• Primarily look at the work itself, separate from
context in which it was written or who wrote it
 Context-based
• Examines the context in which a work was
produced
 Strongly examines  Seeksto examine a
elements such as work in isolation from
plot, character, style • the reader,
and tone, irony, • the author,
symbol, etc. • the context in which it
 Believes that studying was written
these elements is the  Doyou think this
most significant way approach is reader,
to find meaning text, or context
about the text based?
 Examines how details  Might examine
and people in author’s multiple drafts to try
life have affected a and decipher why a
work writer crafted the way
 Might examine the she did
events of writer’s life,  Danger: often life
(Hemingway’s stories can overwhelm
reporting about the the literature, making it
Spanish Civil war) and difficult to understand
use them to better or examine the work
understand For Whom for its own merits
the Bell Tolls
 Seeks to understand  Less concerned with
a literary work by a work’s significance
investigating the today than what it
social, cultural, and meant in its time
intellectual context  How the time and
that produced it place of a story’s
 Context includes creation affect its
author’s biography meaning
 Emphasizes the underlying meaning in
literature in relationship to psychological
components
• Sexual symbols, dreams, repressed feelings, an
individual character’s conscious and/or
subconscious motives, etc.
 Thecritic might look at a character’s
psychological make-up, sanity, etc.
 An interdisciplinary approach
 Often draws from anthropology,
comparative religion, history, and
psychology
 Explore literature through examination of
common humanity
 Commonly discuss archetypes in literature:
symbols or situations that evoke a universal
response
• Coming of age motif
• The hero’s journey
• Good v. evil as seen in light v. dark
 Examines literature in the cultural,
economic, and political context in which
is it written or received
 Looks at the relationship of the artist and
society
• How the social classes of characters influence
their outcomes
• The political or social statements a work offers
 Examines how sexual  Men’s movement:
identity influences the seeks to examine ideas
creation and reception of masculinity
of literary works  May examine how
 Began with the feminist women are
movement stereotyped or what
 Often looks at how text roles they play in
by examining “male- literatureI
produced”  nfluenced by
assumptions in works sociology, psychology,
and anthropology
 Attempts to describe what happens in the
reader’s mind while reading a text
 Acknowledges that different readers
come to a text with different
backgrounds that will affect their
interpretations
 Though it rejects the idea that there is a
singular, correct interpretation, it notes
that there are not an infinite number of
interpretations
 No central methodology is used
 Interdisciplinary field
 Primary looks at the nature of social
power as revealed in “texts”
• Cereal boxes
• Commercials
• Literature
 Seeksto identify the overt and covert
values reflected in a cultural practice
 See handout