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Critical Lenses

Students will view a series of Critical Lenses and what defines each.
by

Ryan Woods

on 3 November 2016

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Transcript of Critical Lenses

Feminist
Sees Cultural and Economic disabilities in a "Patriarchal" society which have hindered or prevented women from realizing their creative possibilities.
Women's cultural identification is a merely negative object, or "other" to man as the defining and dominating "subject."

Several Concepts are held in common by most Feminist Critics:
Our civilization is pervasively patriarchal
The concepts of "gender" are largely, if not entirely, cultural constructs, effected by the omnipresent patriarchal biases of our civilization
This patriarchal ideology also pervades those writings which have been considered great literature. Such works lack autonomous female role models, are implicitly addressed to male readers, and leave the woman reader an alien outsider or else solicit her to identify against herself by assuming male values and ways of perceiving. Feeling and acting.
Archetypal
"Archetype" signifies narrative designs, character types, or images which are said to be identifiable in a wide variety of works of literature, as well as in myths, dreams, and even ritualized modes of social behavior
Literary Theories
Developed as a means to understand the various ways people read texts.
Proponents believe that their theory is THE THEORY.
Most of us interpret texts according to the "Rules" of several different theories at once.
All literary theories are "lenses" through which we can see texts.
There is nothing to say that one is better than another or that you should read according to anyone of them
Sometimes we need to "decide" to read a text with one in mind because you often will gain a new perspective on your reading.
Marxist
A Marxist Critic grounds his/her theory and practice on the economic and cultural theory of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles, especially on the following claims.

The evolving history of humanity, its institutions and its way of thinking are determined by the changing mode of its "material production"--that is, of its basic economic organization.
Historical changes in the fundamental mode of production effect essential changes both in the constitution and power relations of social classes, which carry on a conflict for economic, political and social advantage.
Human consciousness in any era is constituted by an ideology--that is a set of concepts, beliefs, values, and ways of thinking and feeling through which human beings perceive, and by which they explain what they take to be reality. A Marxist Critic typically undertakes to "explain" the literature in any era by revealing the economic, class, and ideological determinants of the way an author writes, and to examine the relation of the text to the social reality of that time and place.

This school of critical theory focuses on power and money in works of literature. WHo has the power/money? Who does not? What happens as a result? For example, it could be said that "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is about the upper class attempting to maintain their power and influence over the lower class by chasing Ichabod, a lower class citizen with aspirations toward the upper class, out of town. This would explain some of the numerous descriptions you get of land, wealth, and hearty living through Ichabod's eyes.
New
New Criticism is directed against the prevailing concern of critics with the lives and psychology of authors, with social background, and with literary history. There are several points of view and procedures that are held in common by most New Critics.
A poem should be treated as primarily poetry and should be regarded as an independent and self-sufficient object.
The distinctive procedure of the New Critic is explication, or close reading: The detailed and subtle analysis of the complex interrelations and ambiguities of the components within a work.
The principles of New Criticism are basically verbal. That is, literature is conceived to be a special kind of language whose attributes are defined by systematic opposition to the language of science and of practical and logical discourse. The key concepts of this criticism deal with the meanings and interactions of words, figures of speech, and symbols.
The distinction between literary genres is not essential.
Psychological and Psychoanalytic
Psychological criticism deals with a work of literature primarily as an expression, in fictional form, of the personality, state of mind, feelings, and desires of its author. The assumption of psychoanalytic critics is that a work of literature is correlated with its author's mental traits:
Reference to the author's personality is used to explain and interpret a literary work.
Reference to a literary works is made in order to establish, biographically, the personality of the author.
The mode of reading a literary work itself is a way of experiencing the distinctive subjectivity or consciousness of its author.
This theory requires that we investigate the psychology of a character or author to figure out the meaning of the text.
Critical Lenses
Reader Response
Deconstruction
Historical
Criticism
The method of analysis and judgment of a literary or artistic work

Examples:
Movie critics write reviews of the latest releases
Food critics analyze the quality of food at a restaurant
Sports analysts critique a quarterback’s performance in a game
College students write papers to analyze the use of diction in The Grapes of Wrath
Criticism gives an OPINION (not necessarily shared by all people.)
Literary Criticism is one person's ARGUMENT about a text that the author may have never intended.
Archetypal themes
Death-Rebirth
The Journey Underground
The heavenly ascent
The search for the father
The paradise-Hades Image
The Promethean Rebel-Hero
The Scapegoat
The Earth goddess
The Fatal Woman
Examples
Female Archetypes
Female Hero
Old Hag
Damsel in Distress
Mother Goddess
Temptress
Great Mother
Doppelganger
Hero
Anti-Hero
Sage
Trickster
Social Outcast
Double
Mirror Image
Evil Twin
Shadow
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Incredible Hulk
Harvey Dent
Two-Face
Tragic / Flawed Hero
Villain
Say WHAT?
Feminist Critics "see" that society has prevented women from realizing their creative or intellectual possibilities. Women are “negative objects” in the text and second to men. Focuses on relationships between genders.

Our society is set up by men
Women are second to men
Classic writings don't contain a strong female role model and focus on the male reader. This leaves the woman as an outsider or forces her to identify against herself by assuming male values.
Based on principles of Karl Marx:
The history of humanity is based on economic production.
The social classes create conflict for economic, political, and social advantages.
The text relates to the social reality of that time and place.
Focuses on power and money: who has it? Who doesn't have it?
Excuse Me?
What the What?
Based entirely on the author’s choices

Focuses on language: meanings and interactions of words (diction), figures of speech, stylistic devices, and symbols.
HUHHHHH?
The work of literature is an expression of the personality, state of mind, feelings, and desires of the author.

Analyzes the psychology (thoughts, feelings, actions) of a character or author to figure out meaning of text.
Focuses on applying specific historical information about the time during which an author wrote. History refers to the social, political, economic, cultural, and/or intellectual climate of the time.
This type of criticism does not designate any one critical theory, but focuses on the activity of reading a work of literature. Reader-response critics turn from the traditional conception of a work as an achieved structure of meanings to the responses of readers as their eyes follow a text. By this shift of perspective a literary work is converted into an activity that goes on in a reader's mind, and what had been features of the work itself--including narrator, plot, characters, style, and structure-- is less important than the connection between the reader's experience and the text. It is through this interaction that meaning is made.
The belief that no piece of literature represents anything beyond itself

The READER gives it meaning through their own experiences!
Weird

Literature means nothing because language means nothing because we all mean nothing!

Used with stories with ambiguous endings; we can’t assume what happened
By far the most difficult theory to understand. It was developed by some very smart (or very unstable) people who declare that literature means nothing because language means nothing. In other words, we cannot say that we know what the "meaning" of a story is because there is no way of knowing.
Women's Role in the 1920s
All about money and social class!
Listen as the Zombie narrates...this is an example of the Reader-Response criticism
Full transcript