Literary and Cultural Theory 1.
History[ edit ] The practice of literary theory became a profession in the 20th century, but it has historical roots that run as far back as ancient Greece Aristotle 's Poetics is an often cited early exampleancient India Bharata Muni 's Natya Shastraancient Rome Longinus 's On the Sublime and medieval Iraq Al-Jahiz 's al-Bayan wa-'l-tabyin and al-Hayawan, and ibn al-Mu'tazz 's Kitab al-Badi.
The theory and criticism of literature are, of course, also closely tied to the history of literature. However, the modern sense of "literary theory" only dates to approximately the s when the structuralist linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure began to strongly influence English language literary criticism.
The New Critics and various European-influenced formalists particularly the Russian Formalists had described some of their more abstract efforts as "theoretical" as well.
But it was not until the broad impact of structuralism began to be felt in the English-speaking academic world that "literary theory" was thought of as a unified domain.
In the academic world of the United Kingdom and the United States, literary theory was at its most popular from the late s when its influence was beginning to spread outward from elite universities like Johns HopkinsYaleand Reading notes for the theory of through the s by which time it was taught nearly everywhere in some form.
During this span of time, literary theory was perceived as academically cutting-edge, and most university literature departments sought to teach and study theory and incorporate it into their curricula. Because of its meteoric rise in popularity and the difficult language of its key texts, theory was also often criticized as faddish or trendy obscurantism and many academic satire novels of the period, such as those by David Lodgefeature theory prominently.
Some scholars, both theoretical and anti-theoretical, refer to the s and s debates on the academic merits of theory as "the theory wars". By the early s, the popularity of "theory" as a subject of interest by itself was declining slightly along with job openings for pure "theorists" even as the texts of literary theory were incorporated into the study of almost all literature.
Bythe controversy over the use of theory in literary studies had quieted down, and discussions on the topic within literary and cultural studies tend now to be considerably milder and less lively. However, some scholars like Mark Bauerlein continue to argue that less capable theorists have abandoned proven methods of epistemologyresulting in persistent lapses in learning, research, and evaluation.
Specific theories are distinguished not only by their methods and conclusions, but even by how they create meaning in a " text ". However, some theorists acknowledge that these texts do not have a singular, fixed meaning which is deemed "correct".
There are many types of literary theory, which take different approaches to texts. Even among those listed below, many scholars combine methods from more than one of these approaches for instance, the deconstructive approach of Paul de Man drew on a long tradition of close reading pioneered by the New Criticsand de Man was trained in the European hermeneutic tradition.
Differences among schools[ edit ] This section possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations.
Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. May Learn how and when to remove this template message The different interpretive and epistemological perspectives of different schools of theory often arise from, and so give support to, different moral and political commitments.
For instance, the work of the New Critics often contained an implicit moral dimension, and sometimes even a religious one: Eliot or Gerard Manley Hopkins for its degree of honesty in expressing the torment and contradiction of a serious search for belief in the modern world.
Meanwhile, a Marxist critic might find such judgments merely ideological rather than critical; the Marxist would say that the New Critical reading did not keep enough critical distance from the poem's religious stance to be able to understand it. Or a post-structuralist critic might simply avoid the issue by understanding the religious meaning of a poem as an allegory of meaning, treating the poem's references to "God" by discussing their referential nature rather than what they refer to.
A critic using Darwinian literary studies might use arguments from the evolutionary psychology of religion.
Such a disagreement cannot be easily resolved, because it is inherent in the radically different terms and goals that is, the theories of the critics. Their theories of reading derive from vastly different intellectual traditions: In the late s, the Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye attempted to establish an approach for reconciling historical criticism and New Criticism while addressing concerns of early reader-response and numerous psychological and social approaches.
His approach, laid out in his Anatomy of Criticismwas explicitly structuralist, relying on the assumption of an intertextual "order of words" and universality of certain structural types.
His approach held sway in English literature programs for several decades but lost favor during the ascendance of post-structuralism.
For some theories of literature especially certain kinds of formalismthe distinction between "literary" and other sorts of texts is of paramount importance. Other schools particularly post-structuralism in its various forms: Mikhail Bakhtin argued that the "utter inadequacy" of literary theory is evident when it is forced to deal with the novel ; while other genres are fairly stabilized, the novel is still developing.
For most preth century approaches, the author's intentions are a guiding factor and an important determiner of the "correct" interpretation of texts. The New Criticism was the first school to disavow the role of the author in interpreting texts, preferring to focus on "the text itself" in a close reading.
In fact, as much contention as there is between formalism and later schools, they share the tenet that the author's interpretation of a work is no more inherently meaningful than any other. Schools[ edit ] Listed below are some of the most commonly identified schools of literary theory, along with their major authors.
African-American literary theory Associated with Romanticisma philosophy defining aesthetic value as the primary goal in understanding literature.Storybook Online Network - A Storytelling Community For Children MOST POPULAR TODAY: the magic skateboard (58) The Magical Castle (56) Ralph (56) A Kid Called Caleb (56) Joined at the Wrist (56) I Want an Elephant (56).
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The schema theory of reading also fits within the cognitively based view of reading. Rumelhart () has described schemata as "building blocks of cognition" which are used in the process of interpreting sensory data, in retrieving information from memory, in organising goals and subgoals, in allocating resources, and in guiding the flow of.