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ENG 102: Literary Criticism

An Introduction to Critical Lenses

Michael Roberts

on 6 July 2014

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Transcript of ENG 102: Literary Criticism

An Introduction to Literary Criticism
New Historicist/Cultural Studies

Gender Studies

The Hero's (Inward) Journey
7:20- Spiritual Journey
16:10- Transformation of consciousness by trials
23:00- The Belly of the Whale
Episode 1: The Hero's Adventure (first broadcast June 21, 1988 on PBS)

About Campbell, hero types, hero deeds, Jesus Christ, the Buddha, movie heroes, Star Wars as a metaphor, an Iroquois story the refusal of suitors, dragons, dreams and Jungian psychology, "follow your bliss," consciousness in plants, Gaia, Chartres cathedral, spirituality vs. economics, emerging myths, "Earthrise" as a symbol.
In the Beginning...
Plato (Greek 360 b.c.e.)- Art teach morals, mediocre reproduction of nature
Aristotle- (student to Plato) Art as means to an end; a productive science
Moral Criticism,
Dramatic Construction
Formalism (1930s)
• Form follows function
• Only look at text (close reading) elements of form- style, structure, tone, imagery, etc.
o Free from author, environment, and era
• Separate parts create whole? Unity?
o Interconnectedness of text
Biographical (1930s)
• Explore work by using the insight from the author’s life
• Expand upon meaning of text
Psychological, Mythological (1930s)
•Explores levels of consciousness (Ego, Superego, Id)
•Freud- Unconscious, drives, repression, family dynamics, sex/death, hidden meanings
•Jung- Collective Unconscious, archetypes (journey, shadow, anima, animus, spirit, trials etc.)
View works in broader context of works sharing a similar pattern(s)
Historical (1930s)
• Investigates social, cultural, and intellectual context around a work
• Examine effect of a text upon its original readers
New Historicist/Cultural Studies (1980s)
• Every work a product of historic movement that caused it
• Reconnect work with time period & identify it with cultural/political movements
all cultural activities equally important for historical analysis, eg. map-making may inform a Shakespeare play as much his literary precursors
• Subjective interpretation of historical events
• Post-Colonial Criticism – History written by victors- Western colonizers controlling colonized, focus on lower classes
Marxist (1930s)
• Class benefits and conflicts (socioeconomics); All art is political
• Contradiction—Tension—Revolution
• Oppressed lower class (proletariat) Well-to-do influential upper class (Bourgeoisie)
o All works challenge or support the status-quo
Gender Studies (1970s)
• Feminism- societal aspects inherently patriarchal (male-dominated), women marginalized, “other,” economic- social-psychological- political oppression by patriarchal ideology
• Explore issues of sexual identity and sexuality, power, marginalized populations in literature and culture
• Removal and flexibility of binaries eg. What constitutes masculine/feminine?
Reader-Response (1960s)
• Readers make meanings in text ( how do “religious, cultural, and social values affect readings?)
• Survey criticism of work—what does it reveal about the reading experience?
o Eg. Read aloud = meaning changed?
• literary texts do not “contain” a meaning
Structuralism, Semiotics (1920s)
• Codes and patterns
o Underlying principles that govern composition
o Signifier and Signified
 Resemble each other? (eg. Signs on bathroom doors)
 Indexes- reliable? (eg. Fire and smoke)
 True symbols? (eg. Relationship is arbitrary- sound of word "kat" or written word "cat" [signifier] and the furry animal [signified])
o Semiotics – way non-linguistic objects and behaviors tell us something
Deconstruction (1960s)
• Frameworks fictitious, no Truth (language unstable- connotations and subjective)
• Power structures enforce hierarchies, certainties break down
• Challenge notion of authors’ “ownership” of texts (and their ability to control the meaning of their texts)
• How language is used to achieve power, how some interpretations of a literary work come to be regarded as “truth”
Archetype - "A universal and
recurring image, pattern, or motif representing a typical human experience." -Carl Jung
Patterns and behaviors; primordial images which are part of our psyche and social systems
Critical Application
Perform either a Reader-response, Mythological, or Semiotic/Structuralist criticism of J.R.R. Tolkien's short story "Smith of Wootton Major" that you read for last class. Choose two specific parts or scenes within the narrative to focus your criticism and write a paragraph on each.
Joseph Campbell _The Power of Myth_
wise old man
good mother
trickster figure
animal helper/monster
Joseph Campbell's "Monomyth"
Hero Myth
Healing Myth
Combination Myth
"Broken" hero-- need for rejuvenation, balance
_The Emperor’s New Groove_, _Finding Nemo_, _Shrek_, _UP_, _A Wonderful Life_, _A Christmas Carol_
mission/task myth
treasure myth
Who hero is
What hero needs
How hero is transformed
The Mythology of Star Wars with George Lucas and Bill Moyers (1999)
The "Five Steps"
Typical questions from the Purdue OWL: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/04/

What connections can we make between elements of the text and the archetypes? (Mask, Shadow, Anima, Animus)
How do the characters in the text mirror the archetypal figures? (Great Mother or nurturing Mother, Whore, destroying Crone, Lover, Destroying Angel)
How does the text mirror the archetypal narrative patterns? (Quest, Night-Sea-Journey)
How symbolic is the imagery in the work?
How does the protagonist reflect the hero of myth?
Does the “hero” embark on a journey in either a physical or spiritual sense?
Is there a journey to an underworld or land of the dead?
What trials or ordeals does the protagonist face? What is the reward for overcoming them?
Here is a list of scholars we encourage you to explore to further your understanding of this theory:

Maud Bodkin - Archetypal Patterns in Poetry, 1934
Carl Jung - The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Vol. 9, Part 1 of Collected Works. 2nd ed. Trans. R.F.C. Hull, 1968
Bettina Knapp - Music, Archetype and the Writer: A Jungian View, 1988
Ricahrd Sugg - Jungian Literary Criticism, 1993
Linda Seger's "Creating the Myth" (1987)
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