Critical Approaches to Literature

Arrange the words to form the definition of literature.
 human  experience  well-chosen  words  enduring  significant  expression  arranged

What is literature? It is an enduring expression of a significant human experience in words well-chosen and arranged. necessary  human – people  experience – heart of literature  words well-chosen and arranged . not ephemeral  expression – sharing  significant – important.  enduring – lasting.

tone. transcend the merely social or political)? •Works that fit the parameters of literary genres: poem.. etc.What is literature? • Any work with a unique aesthetic quality? •Texts that have stood the test of time? •Works of the imagination/creative writing? •Works with a particular set of qualities— e. short story.g. novel? •Anything that is written? . setting.. essay.e. plot. character.? •Works that emphasize universal themes (i.

gives us a particular way of understanding the text from a specific viewpoint  Literary  It . evaluation.What is Literary criticism?  Literary criticism gives us a window into a work of literature criticism is the study. and interpretation of literature. discussion.

analysis of structure.  Literary criticism asks what literature is. and what it is worth. and judgement of value. This includes the classification by genre. what it does. Literary criticism is the evaluation of literary works.  Based on a “literary theory” .

 Literary Theories--a means to understand the various ways people read & connect with texts.  ―lenses‖ through which we can see texts  Usually leads to a whole new . of a ―literary‖ text.What is literary theory? The capacity to generalize about phenomena and to develop concepts that form the basis for interpretation and analysis—in this instance.

Literary Criticism Map Where do the theories fall? .

social or personal assumptions or arguments it makes.In other words …  Literary criticism refers to a reader’s effort to investigate a text to understand why it has been constructed or written that way it is as well as to understand the types of cultural. .

Why do we have to analyze everything???? Why can’t we enjoy the books we read in English? Talking about experiences enhances our enjoyment of them  Talking about experiences involves the search for meaning which increases our understanding of them  Because Socrates said so: "The life which is unexamined is not worth living."  .

And lastly… Literary criticism is not ―reading between the lines‖ – it is reading the lines very carefully. .

ask: What did I best like about this novel? How did the author create characters you could care about? What truth about life does this story tell? . 3. It seeks to judge and justify your evaluation of the novel. To begin. Your paper grows from your own curiosity regarding the effectiveness of the author to tell the story in counterpoint with your own interpretation of the novel. 1. 2.

what would you ask him/her? How does the setting of the novel influence the characters? Which quotes in the book seem carry the most meaning? . 6.Cont. 5. What questions do you have about the author’s life that might give you insight into the novel? If you could meet the author. 4.

What is plot?  The author creates a plot by arranging events in a story in order to achieve a certain effect.As you read your book. . be observant.  A pattern of cause-effect relationships may be created. Highlight and write on the pages:  Significant developments in the PLOT (conflict) involving protagonist and antagonist.

which is formless.Plot imposes form on experience. . ◦ Exposition: the writer imparts information that is necessary to understand the story.  Plot is important in expressing the meaning of a work.  Structure of a plot:  Beginning: How the novel starts.

or complication. ◦ Complication turns into climax when it reaches its level of highest intensity.◦ Introduces an element of instability. there is an openness in the story that is capable of being developed  Middle ◦ Elements of instability group themselves into what we recognize as a pattern of conflict.  Denouement. or outcome: how the .

intellectual. etc. and moral environment . interiors. scenery.Setting  Elements of a setting: ◦ Geography (topography.) ◦ Occupation and lifestyle of characters ◦ Time ◦ Religious.

or be eccentric individuals.  Characters may resemble ourselves and people we know or may represent a universal quality that exists in all of us.  Judging characters  How is this character relevant to the reader?  How does he/she contribute to the story as a whole? .Characters Is the character someone you can understand and relate to on some level  Characters can represent some universal quality (archetypal).

and paragraphs. sentences. • Style includes the author's choice of words as well as arrangement of words into phrases. .Style: the author's use of language • Style is the author's personal expression.

Structure ◦ Awareness of the major complications and development of a film plot. the gradual buildup in suspense from situation full of potential to a climax and resolution. progression towards climax and denouement.  . How is the novel organized?  Chronological organization: exposition at the beginning. ◦ Relatedness of actions.

Chapters and units. different settings. if any:   To what do chapters and units correspond (historical periods. division between characters. and the reader has to put it together to get a sense of chronology. we are given flashbacks to what happened in the past. chapters or units) have any particular significance? . etc.  Unchronological: novel is presented to us in pieces like parts in a puzzle.)? Does length of divisions (i.◦ action is going on at the beginning of the novel.e.

 It is not a "hidden meaning" that needs to be .  A theme is more complex than a moral and may have no direct advice or philosophical value that the reader can apply  It is not the subject of the story.Theme: the meaning of the story. central or dominating idea  What theme is not: ◦ It is not the "moral" of the story.  A moral is a piece of practical advice that can be gained from the novel to apply to our own lives.

◦ It is an aspect of human experience that the author wishes to express.What theme is: ◦ Theme is the meaning released by the work when we take all aspects of the work in its entirety into account.  Discovering theme: Theme can be discovered only by becoming aware of the relations among the parts of a story and of the relations of the parts to a whole: ◦ Characters: What kind of people does  .

and what motives dominate them? ◦ Style: How does the author perceive reality? ◦ Tone: What is the author's attitude towards his subject? ◦ Values: What are the values of the characters in the story? What values does the author seem to promote? .◦ Plot: What do the characters do? Are they in control of their lives. or are they controlled by fate? ◦ Motivation: Why do the characters behave as they do.

cultural." .TRADITIONAL APPROACHES  Historical Approach/Criticism ◦ This approach "seeks to understand a literary work by investigating the social. and intellectual context that produced it-a context that necessarily includes the artist's biography and milieu.

time.  Author’s historical moment is key to . it is important to understand the author and his world in order to understand his intent and to make sense of his work. and history. A historical approach relies heavily on the author and his world. we must understand the author and his age. In this view. In the historical view. prejudices. and to fully understand the work. the work is informed by the author's beliefs.

"  Author’s personal experiences are central to understanding the text  By examining the author’s life.  .Biographical Approach/Criticism 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. we can have a deeper understanding of his writing.

if not exclusively..sees a literary work chiefly. as a reflection of the author's life and times or the life and times of the characters in the work" .. According to A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature: Fourth Edition the Historical-Biographical approach can be defined as the approach that ".

.Moral/Philosophical Approach  Moral / philosophical critics believe that the larger purpose of literature is to teach morality and to probe philosophical issues.

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