LIT 440 Midterm Terminology

New Criticism
A movement in literary criticism in which close reading and detailed textual analysis of literature is advocated rather than interest in the mind of personality of the author (intentional fallacy.) History and social/political climate are also to be ignored. Application of semantics is also plays a vital role in this type of criticism.

close reading
Reading which includes detailed, careful attention to evidence from the text itself, concerning one’s self only with the words on the page. This is an essential element in New Criticism.

organic unity
The belief that an admirable literary work forms an organic whole. One of the beliefs of the New Critics.

organic whole
Stems from organic unity, and suggests completeness and self-sufficiency. Implies that in order to interpret a work of literature that forms an organic whole, one would only need to read the work of literature itself and ignore any outside sources.

extrinsic criticism
A term that applies to New Criticism, extrinsic criticism is literary commentary that focuses on history and culture, as opposed to intrinsic criticism, which focuses on the text itself.

intrinsic criticism
A term that applies to New Criticism, intrinsic criticism is literary commentary that focuses on the text itself, as opposed to extrinsic criticism which focuses on history and culture.

naturalized
Refers to an idea that is so taken for granted it is as if it were simply natural. In reference to organic unity, a new critical assumption that grew to be exceedingly naturalized, so much so that it is not even recognized as being an assumption.

paradox
Refers to an expression that combines opposite ideas, such as “Fair is foul, foul in Fair” in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” For new critics, one of the aspects that typifies the art of literary writing (as opposed to scientific writing.)

ambiguity
Another aspect that, for new critics, typifies the art of literary writing (as opposed to scientific writing.) Like paradox, ambiguity refers to suggestively multiple and unsettled meanings.

tension
Another aspect that, for new critics, typifies the art of literary writing (as opposed to scientific writing.) Tension refers to connected ideas that pull away from each other without reaching resolution. Not to be confused with emotional tension, it is a suspended set of conflicting possibilities that will not settle into resolution.

irony
Another aspect that, for new critics, typifies that art of literary writing ( as opposed to scientific writing.) Irony refers to an expression or event that means something different connotatively from what it means denotatively.

patterns
New criticism term, refers to repetition that forms a pattern, like a description, language, event, habit, structural feature, etc. Important to remember that the point is not to just point out the pattern, but to interpret it. The new critical assumption is that a repeated pattern indicates a unified artistic vision across the breadth of a literary text.

symbols
An object, animate or inanimate which stands for something else. In New Criticism, symbols are important because a repeated symbol creates a pattern, and repeated patterns can indicate a unification within the text, one of the hallmarks of New Criticism.

formalism
A type of criticism that focuses on the form of literary works, form being such matters as literary structure and language. Liked by New Critics, because focus on form meant a declining focus on history, cultural context, biography, and politics.

intentional fallacy
New Critic argument that it is fallacious to suppose that the author’s intention and a good interpretation of the text are necessarily the same, and that any argument for an interpretation must come from the text itself. What we think the author intended should not govern our interpretation of literary text.

Structuralism
Is about understanding concepts through their relation to other concepts, rather than understanding them as intrinsic, in isolation from each other. Highly concerned with linguistics and semiology, or study of signs. Began primarily with Ferdinand de Saussure who came up with the concept of language as a system of signs, including parole, an individual unit of language, and langue, language as a whole.

binary opposites
A term used in structuralism, refers to the fact that we understand the world by seeing its difference from something else. We interpret the world by juxtaposing different concepts against each other. For example, we can only understand hot in relation to cold, inside vs. outside, on vs. off, etc.

langue
term coined by Saussure, refers to the overall system of language, such as the rules of grammar. Is to be understood in terms of its binary opposition, parole, which refers to an utterance, an individual instance of language, such as a sentence, news bulletin, or poem.

parole
term coined by Saussure, refers to an utterance, an individual instance of language, such as a sentence, news bulletin, or poem. To be understood in terms of its binary opposition, langue, with refers to the overall system of language, such as the rules of grammar.

Semiology/semiotics
The study/science of signs. In structuralism, refers to the study of culture apart of linguistics or literature. For example, the rules of chess would be the langue, while any given move in chess would be the parole.

Sign/signifier/signified
Saussure structuralism: the sign is constructed of a signifier (a sound-image) and a signified (the concept that the signifier represents. For example, the signifier “cat” represents the concept of cat. The signified is the concept of a cat. This is not to be confused with the physical cat, which Saussure calls the “referent.”

arbitrary
In structuralism, refers to the nature of signs and language. The link between the signified and signifer is arbitrary, in other words, the link between the word and the object. An example is that different languages have different signifiers for the same signified. Opposite to Plato’s theory of forms.

phonemes
Each language has a limited set of sounds, which linguists call phonemes, that its speakers, people who know its langue, hear as marking meaningful differences. English has about 40 phonemes, depending on speaker and dialect.

difference
In Saussure’s structuralism, refers to a system of comparisons and relations which produces meaning. Meaning is not inherent in a signifier, but comes from an arbitrary system of conventions that distributes the differences among signifiers.

constructed
In structuralism, refers to the idea that reality is constructed, that is, created by people who create the language, as opposed to being made up of underlying essences that language merely coats over or labels.

surface structure/deep structure
in structuralism, akin to parole, myths, individual instance of a broader, deep structure, or overall langue, system of kinship relations or stories that all cultures share. These structures are organized like language through a system of differences and binary opposites.

discourse
In structuralism, refers to not only words and grammars, but also, more broadly, to all structures of perception, which to a structuralist, we represent through words and grammars through systems of representation.

discursive/pre-discursive
Structuralists believe everything is discursive, meaning that everything is constructed. If one believes in a reality independent of and prior to language, then one believes in a pre-discursive essence (which makes one an essentialist.) That believe cannot be backed up with an example, because offering an example requires use of language and discourse.

intertextuality
Structuralist term: writing or reading one text in relation to another. The interdependence of any one literary text with all the other texts that have come before it. Example-I Love Lucy and following sitcoms.

hermeneutic cycle
Term used in structuralism, refers to study of interpretation: hermeneutic cycle states that in order to understand the part, we have to understand the whole, and in order to understand the whole, we must understand the part. For example, in order to describe the poetics of sonnets, we need to consider individual sonnets, but to understand individual sonnets, we will also need to consider sonnets in general.

synchronic/diachronic
A synchronic approach considers a language, or some other system, at one time, whereas a diachronic approach works chronologically and so considers how a language, or some other system, changes over time. Synchronic proceeds without regard to time, while diachronic works chronologically and so depends on time.

defamiliarization
Russian formalist idea by Victor Shklovsky, refers to the way that literature, especially realist or satirical literature, can take familiar things and refresh our perspective on them. For example, Emily Dickinson describes a bat as “a small umbrella quaintly halved.”

narratology
Structuralist study of narrative, theory, discourse, or critique of narrative/narration. Begun by Levi-Strauss, narratologists describe the ways that narratives work in general or the ways that certain kinds of narratives work (like the detective novel, for example.)

The tale and the telling
In reference to narratology, the tale is the sequence of events in the order they take place, and the telling is the sequence of events in the order they are told. The telling often follows a different sequence from the tale, because storytellers do not always begin at the beginning or end. The tale includes all the events, but a telling must leave some things out, producing gaps, or lacunae.

embedding/nesting/framed tales
In narratology, embedding or nesting refers to stories within stories, cases where the narrative has a framing story and another story within the frame. Readers looking to interpret the text should ask what effect embedding has on the text as a whole.

narrative reliability
In narratology, refers to how much the reader can rely on the narrator of a story to be accurate. The issue of reliable narration is a real issue in Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying,” as at the end of the novel we discover that the most reliable/omniscient narrator of the book, Darl, is actually crazy and is carted off to an asylum.

focalization
In narratology, traditionally called point of view or perspective, however is different in that it does not always refer to the narrator. A character’s perspective does not always come in the character’s voice. Whether an “internal focalizer” comes in first person or third person narration, the point to calling teh character a focalizer is that the angle of mind is coming through the character. The “focalized” is the object of the “focalizer’s” attention.

shot/reverse shot
in reference to Narratology/Focalization, this is a film sequence that alternates between a character and an object, implying that the character is looking at the object. Often the object is another character, perhaps during dialogue, implying that the two characters look at each other while they talk with each other.

Free indirect discourse
Used the third person to represent speech through thought or summary, and gives the impression of first person and omniscience. Can give us more information about the character without using dialogue.

syntagmatic/horizontal axis
In reference to the syntax of narrative (a structuralist form) refers to things that follow in a sequence that sometimes you can rearrange.

paradigmatic/vertical axis
In reference to the syntax of narrative (a structuralist form) refers to things that come in a group and can substitute for each other.

metaphor/metonymy
Terms often used in reference to structuralism, metaphor describes something by something else that is not connected to it, while metonymy describes something by something else that is connected to it or part of it. Metaphor dominates in poetry while metonymy dominates in prose.

Deconstruction
founded by Jacques Derrida, a method of criticism and mode of analytical inquiry in which the reader seeks to find a multiplicity of meanings. A deconstructive reading analyzes the specificity of a text’s critical difference from itself. Deconstruction is not “done” to a text, it exposes what already exists.

double reading
Deconstruction term, refers to a two stage reading. In the first stage, the critic identifies a confidently singular interpretation free of multiplicity and deconstruction. In the second stage, the critic finds things that undermine the structure, and “break down the binary” or “explode the binary.”

undecidability/aporia
in Deconstruction, a moment, sometimes called an aporia, showing how the free play of the text’s signifiers, it’s language, goes beyond the capacity of the system to confine it to one meaning or set of meanings. For example, the duck-rabbit. FLICKERING:)

differance
french word coined by Derrida, combines the french words for defer (meaning postpone) and difference. The point and meaning to this word is to show that there is always a difference between the signifier and signified, the gap that keeps all meaning unstable and causes the arbitrary nature of language.

poststructuralism
The label under which deconstruction is often placed-is a more rigorous working out of the possibilities, implications, and shortcoming of structuralism and its basis in Saussurian linguistics. Complements structuralism by offering alternate modes of inquiry, explanation, and interpretation. Allows critics to continue deconstruction’s sense of multiplicity without continuing the sense of social disconnection that can characterize classical, high deconstruction.