The Seven Perspectives: American Literature

perspective
a point of view or way of seeing

Formalism
“the text stands along; they focus on form”

-focused on the text as an aesthetic work of art with intrinsic meaning
-no interested in outside (extrinsic) forces/contexts that shape
-examine themes interwoven with text
-how lit devices, etc are used to underscore the larger theme

Freudian
“the text is a reflection of the author’s psyche or neuroses”

-the meaning of text lies within the subconscious of author
-powerful lit expresses author’s subconscious
-the author’s subconscious is universal to mankind
-explains psyches of the characters

Reader Response
“the text has no intrinsic meaning; there are as many texts as readers”

-does not focus on formalism or the psyche
-constructing meaning is not about decoding the author’s meaning- we can’t do this bc. we didn’t write the text
-text is nothing more than ink on paper
-meaning is derived from interaction between text and reader
-beauty of the art is in the eye of the beholder
-seeks out gaps that the author leaves for us to fill in

Historical Cultural
“text reflects the time period and culture from which it originates and shapes the culture from which it comes”

-New Historicism
-examines how cultural attitudes surrounding the text impact themes, language, and style of text
-puts text in context
-opposite of the formalists who don’t look at the context and its impact

Biographical
examines how the author’s life experiences impact the text and traces how some writers draw from their personal life experiences (especially in the connotative form)

Marxian
“text is product of culture, culture is a product of economy, and the economy is a product of class warfare; text is a product of class tension”

-examines social class and economic values/struggles/inequalities

Feminism
-recover literature by women so writers can be heard
-examines cultural values about women, focuses on the oppression of women
-how women are treated in a text w/ a focus on patriarchy