"Introduction to Theory and Criticism"

signifier
word

deconstruction
emphasizes internal workings of the language

cultural studies
investigates the ways that culture creates and transforms experiences

interpretation
the meaning given to something

reading
the process of decoding symbols

explication
explain or analyze something

exegesis
critical interpretation of a text

personal response
one’s own feelings toward something

appreciation
recognition of the good qualities in something

critique
detailed analysis of something

historical reception
how a work was received when it was originally published

literature
written work which has intrinsic artistic value

representation
the portrayal of something

expression
process of revealing one’s feelings

knowledge
awareness or familiarity gained by experience

poetic language
use of devices such as metaphor, simile, and rhyming

rhetorical language
language which is meant to convey something to the reader or listener

genre
a specific type of literature bound by a set of rules

text
that which is written down and/or carries information

discourse
written or spoken communication

signifieds
concepts

referents
things

social text
language use as dialogical

literary mimesis
imitation or representation

didacticism
emphasizes instructional and informative qualities in literature

Classical Theory and Criticism
Plato, Aristotle, Horace
literary mimesis
didacticism
plot as a unified whole
poetry

literal interpretation
the story is a record of an event which actually took place

allegorical interpretation
the story is an allegory for another event or idea

tropological interpretation
the story has a moral which can be learned

anagogical interpretation
the story has a mystical element which can be studied

Medieval Theory and Criticism
Plotinus, Proclus, Quintilian
four levels of allegorical interpretation
poetry

Renaissance and Neoclassical Theory and Criticism
renewed interest in Greek and Latin
adherence to genre
Alexander Pope
poetry
use of vernacular languages instead of Latin

Romantic Theory and Criticism
focus on the individual
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Williams Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley
power of the imagination
aesthetic pleasure and beauty as well as moral truth
lyric poetry
emphasis on historical stages of development

proletariat
industrial working class

bourgeoisie
owners and manipulators of the means of production

lumpenproletariat
unemployed and criminals

ideology
ideas, beliefs, forms, and values of the ruling class that circulate through all the cultural spheres

hegemony
the continuous ideological domination of all classes by the ruling bloc

commodity
useful or valuable thing

commodity fetishism
social relationships involved in production among money and commodities exchanged

commodification
transformation of goods and services into a commodity

Marxism
Karl Marx
conflict between proletariat and the bourgeoisie
culture and the arts transmit ideas
arts have exchange value, not intrinsic value

dream-work
nightly formation of dreams

ecriture feminine
feminine/female writing

distortion
a misleading account or impression

Psychoanalysis
Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Harold Bloom
human psyche consists of unconscious and conscious spheres
most of the contents of the psyche are unconscious
four kinds of deliberate, positive distortion: 1. condensation, 2. displacement, 3. symbolization, and 4. secondary revision or elaboration
Oedipus complex

persona
abstract dramatic character internal to the work

Anglo-American New Criticism
seek organic relationships of literary elements
distinguishes literary from the more ordinary writing
literature is an autonomous entity
aesthetic unity

Russian formalism
examine the creative deviation of elements from the historical background
literature is a verbal art rather than a reflection of reality or an expression of emotions

Formalism
not interested in the feelings of poets or the responses of readers
artistic structure and form
privileges the work over the artist and audience
Anglo-American New Criticism
Russian formalism

Reader-Response Theory
focuses on the theories of readers
meaning is dependent on the reader
the art by itself is not valuable; only with the reader is it valuable
significance changes; meaning does not
hermeneutics

hermeneutics
studies understanding and textual interpretation

langue
the system of language

parole
actual speech

synchronic
exists now

diachronic
exists and changes over time

Structuralism and Semiotics
decenters the individual
individuals are creations of social and cultural systems

semiology
studies sign systems, codes, and conventions

textuality
floating signifiers

dissemination
meaning is sliding, undecidable

inversion
show how the belated second term is actually indispensable and constitutively prior to the primary term

reinscription
stabilize and transform the usual understanding of the concepts

Poststructuralism and Deconstruction
textuality, rhetoricity, and intertextuality
dissemination
deconstruction
Derrida

Feminism
exposes masculine stereotypes, distortions, and omissions in male literature; studies female creativity, genres, styles, themes, careers, and literary traditions; discovers and evaluates lost and neglected literary works by women
women have a literature of their own
Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar
women must be resisting readers

Queer Theory
criticizes the dominant heterosexual binary, attacks the homophobic and patriarchal basis of hetersexuality
Fouccalt

Postcolonial Studies and Race and Ethnicity Studies
examines the global impact of European colonialism
representation
focuses on literatures produced by subjects in the context of colonial domination
usually Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean
analyzes the nature and dynamics of minority literatures

New Historicisms
history from below
rediscover and recreate usable pasts
history with a critical edge
Stephen Greenblatt, Fouccalt
literary texts are material artifacts made in interaction with specific social, cultural, and political forces
literary texts are lenses to focus on social questions of authority, agency, and institutional power

culture
the aggregate of language, knowledge, belief, morality, law, custom, and art collectively acquired by human beings

Cultural Studies
institutional analysis and ideology critique are important
what counts as literature changes from one time, place, and group to another
literature consists of popular, mass, and minority genres as well as elite canonical works
interpretation employs institutional analysis, ideology critique, and field-based research
personhood involves the operations of our unconscious, the effects of surrounding sociohistorical forces, and the multiple subject positions that each individual occupies

ideology critique
examines the ideas, feelings, beliefs, values, and representations embedded in, or promoted by, the artifacts and practices of a culture or group