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New Criticis m. “When I’m right, I’m right. Even when I’m wrong, I’m still right” -Anonymous. Definition. New Criticism: An analytic literary criticism that is marked by concentration on the language, imagery, and emotional or intellectual tensions in literary works. Normal People Words.

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New criticis m

New Criticism

“When I’m right, I’m right. Even when I’m wrong, I’m still right”




  • New Criticism:

    An analytic literary criticism that is marked by concentration on the language, imagery, and emotional or intellectual tensions in literary works

Normal people words

Normal People Words

A form of literary criticism that focuses on choice of words, imagery, emotions, and intellects within a literary work



  • founded on books an essays written during the 1920s and 1930s

  • Developed by American poets and critics trying to make a cultural statement

Possibly linked to American isolationism pre-World War 2

Important names

Important Names

John Crow Ransom – author of The New Criticism

Allen Tate – author of “Ode to the Confederate Dead” and The Fathers

Robert Penn Warren – member of a group of Agrarians that founded New Criticism

Important texts

Important Texts

“Criticism, Inc.,” and “The Ontological Critic” by John Crow Ransom

“Miss Emily and the Bibliographer” by Allen Tate

The Well Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry and “Pure and Impure Poetry” by Robert Penn Warren



Structuralism by any other name

Structuralism by any other name…

“A theory of humankind whose proponents attempted to show systematically, even scientifically, that all element of human culture, including literature, may be understood as parts of a system of signs.”

Great scott what millennium is this

Great Scott! What Millennium is This?

  • Originated in France in the 1950’s.

  • Brought about as a result of the two World Wars.

  • People desired to “embrace systems of thought that emphasized comprehensibility and significance, rather than absurdity and meaninglessness.”

Do you want frye with that

Do You Want Frye With That?

Northrop Frye

  • July 14, 1912 – January 23, 1991

  • Canadian literary critic

  • Centripetal- Aesthetic perspective

  • Centrifugal- Outward perspective

De saussure de swiss c heese

de Saussure…de Swiss Cheese.

Ferdinand de Saussure

  • November 26, 1857 – February 22, 1913

  • de Sweden

  • Linguist

  • Pioneering work heavily influenced structuralism

  • Langue - refers to the relationship between words and sounds in varying languages

Major works

Major Works

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe 1

Anatomy of Criticism, by Northrop Frye 3

“Sleeping Beauty” 2

1: “Rhetorical novels, like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, are centrifugal, stressing the thematic connection of the stories and characters to the social order.”

2: “The deep structure of the narrative is analyzed through the discovery of a binary opposition and the resultant mediation.”

3: “attempts to formulate an overall view of the scope, theory, principles, and techniques of literary criticism derived exclusively from literature”

The end

The End

of the structuralism period…

Kim jones christopher rush makala payton

Kim Jones

Christopher Rush

Makala Payton

Analysis of Psychoanalysis

What is psychoanalysis

What is Psychoanalysis?

  • In literature, psychoanalysis is the attempt to uncover the working of the human mind and the expression of the unconscious, to analyze a text like a dream, looking for symbolism and repressed meaning, or developing a psychological analysis of a character.

  • Psychoanalytic literary criticism uses the role of language and symbolism in the text to focus on one or more of the following:

    • Examines the author’s life and experiences in relation to the characteristics of the author’s writings

    • Explains the character’s behavior and motivations; can be applied to more than one character.

    • Appeals to the subconscious of the reader and allows the reader to connect to universal psychology.

Visualizing the psychology

Visualizing the Psychology

History of psychoanalytical criticism in literature

History of Psychoanalytical Criticism in Literature

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) - Freud was one of the first people to intertwine psychoanalytic criticism in to literature. Although his contributions were not numerous, he did suggest that literature, just as any other art form, contained the concealed desires and wants of the author. The emotions of the author were then shared and revealed with the audience.

Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) - Lacan was one of the more significant contributors to literary psychoanalysis, He stated that within literature, there exists the understanding of the real, the imaginary, and the symbolic. Lacan felt that this thinking process, while dominantly experienced in children, was also experienced by all humans when exposed to literature or any other form of expression. He also believed that the subconscious formed a universal language of sorts in literature. His most famous lecture was over Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Purloined Letter.”

New criticis m

Jacques Lacan

Sigmund Freud

History continued

History Continued

  • Norman Holland (1926-2011) - best known for his books concentrating psychoanalytic and cognitive psychology on literary questions, eg: Psychoanalysis and Shakespeare (1966)

  • Michel Focault (1926-1984) - For Foucault, people do not have a 'real' identity within themselves; that's just a way of talking about the self -- a discourse. An 'identity' is communicated to others in your interactions with them, but this is not a fixed thing within a person. It is a shifting, temporary construction.

  • Other contributors include: George Klein, Elizabeth Wright, Frederick Hoffman, Simon Lesser, Jane Gallop, and Shoshone Felman, Carl Jung

New criticis m

1895(?) – 1915(?) – Sigmund Freud theorized and defined Psychoanalysis. Included Oedipus complex and came up with the concepts of Id, ego, and superego

1907 – Carl Jung and Freud meet for the first of many times to discuss their theories on psychoanalysis

1912 – Jung and Freud discuss psychoanalytical journals and applied the essay “Amenhotep IV” to actual conflicts in the psychoanalytical movement

1953 - Jacques Lacan begins applying psychoanalysis to literature.

1953 – 1981 – Lacan gives yearly seminars in Paris

1955- Lacan gives seminar on ‘The Purloined Letter’

New criticis m

1957- The Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious or Reason since Freud translated by Alan Sheridan

1959- Desire and Interpretation of Desire in Hamlet translated by J. Hulbert

1966- Écrits: A Selection, transl. by Alan Sheridan

1. The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I

2. Aggressivity in psychoanalysis

3. The function and field of speech and language in psychoanalysis

4. The Freudian thing

5. The agency of the letter in the unconscious or reason since Freud

6. On a question preliminary to any possible treatment of psychosis

7. The direction of the treatment and the principles of its power

8. The signification of the phallus

9. The subversion of the subject and the dialectic of desire in the Freudian unconscious

Jacques lacan in 1 minute

Jacques Lacan in 1 minute

Psychoanalysis at work

Psychoanalysis at Work

“On her way home she usually bought a slice of honeycake at the baker’s. It was her Sunday treat. Sometimes there was an almond in her slice, sometimes not. It made a great difference. If there was an almond it was like carrying home a tiny present – a surprise – something that might very well not have been there. She hurried on the almond Sundays and struck the match for the kettle in quite a dashing way. But today she passed the baker’s by, climbed the stairs, went into the little dark room – her room like a cupboard – and set down on the red eiderdown. She sat there for a long time. The box that the fur came out of was on her bed. She unclasped the necklet quickly; quickly, without looking, laid it inside. But when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying.”BecauseMiss Brill takes off the fur quickly, it is clear that she feels shame. But why shame? From this reaction, the reader can make a variety of assumptions about Miss Brill’s current mental state and the events of the past that could have shaped her personality.

1) She could have suffered severe ridicule and criticism during her childhood based on how quickly she got rid of her “flaw”.

New criticis m

2) She have been in a controlled situation by a parent or a former spouse due to the boldness she felt in wearing the fur out in public for the first time in years. The fur became a bigger deal than it should have been.

3) She could have remembered a lost love from her teenage years. Perhaps when the young couple mocked her, the ridicule didn’t necessarily bother her, but the fact that the ridicule came from the young man upset her. Maybe she was humiliated in some manner by a young love. To a literary psychoanalyst, the causes of Miss Brill’s shame due to the boy may have been caused by rape or concealed sexual desires that were never fulfilled in her youth. After being mocked, she’s reminded that she can’t be attractive to anyone. This idea, however, does not mean she was looking for the boy’s “approval”- simply recognition from someone. These concealed desires may explain her boldness and insecurities at the same time. They also may explain why she just wants to impress someone with her outward appearance – the fur.

4) Maybe Miss Brill’s childhood was forcefully taken away from her. Perhaps her habit of going to pick up a “slice of honeycake at the baker’s” was a routine from her childhood, and she continues to practice the routine in an attempt to find comfort.

Applying psychoanalysis

Applying Psychoanalysis

New criticis m

ad finem

( …we done :P )

Marxist literary theory

Marxist Literary Theory

By Nathanial Edwards


Rebekah Meyer

Definition of marxist literary criticism

Definition of Marxist Literary Criticism

  • Marxist literary theories tend to focus on the representation of class conflict as well as the reinforcement of class distinctions through the medium of literature.

  • This system of belief relies on the social classes as well as the economic and political development of society.

Time period

Time Period


History of marxist literary theory

History of Marxist Literary Theory

  • Systemized in mid 1920’s

  • October Revolution

  • The October Revolution guided both literary creation and official literary criticism in Russia, where works focused on the lives of the different classes. In the years since then, the Russian beliefs regarding literary theory have been modified to acknowledge that literary creation is a result of both subjective inspiration and the objective influence of the writer's surroundings.

  • Socialist Realism was accepted as the highest form of literature – a theory based on an art movement that depicted and glorified the proletariat’s struggle towards societal progress. These ideas guided both literary creation and official literary criticism in Russia, where works focused on the lives of the different classes.

Five step process

Five Step Process

  • To implement these ideals of Marxist Criticism, a five step process exists to effectively critique literature.

  • Analyse how the characters interact with one another. Marxist thought relied on the relationships between individuals, thus, their interaction will show hierarchy and particular mannerisms associated with different social classes.

  • Evaluate the jobs of the characters. The Marxist critique includes a focus on a 'class system' where the vocations of characters provided the most direct reference to their place within the system. The level of luxury and how much they work is also an indicator.

  • Identify how the characters use their free time. Marxist theory states that individuals have the ability to use free time productively or by their own choice. These free choices are an indicator to the individual’s way of life and connection to the societal conforms around them.

  • Assess the role of the government in the piece – identify its form, tools for implementation, public receptiveness and its success.

  • Reference other Marxist writers and research the period in which the piece of literature was published. Connect all the ideals displayed in the work to the era it was written and the effectiveness in which they were conveyed.

Names of major figures

Names of Major Figures

  • Walter Benjamin

  • Tony Bennett

  • John Frow

  • Raymond Williams

  • Pierre Macherey

  • Michael Ryan

  • Ronald Taylor

Georg lukacs

Georg Lukacs

  • The Changing Function of Historical Materialism-demonstrated his creative and independent approach to Marxist theory.

  • Part of the Hungarian Communist Party. He later fled from the Hungarian White Terror.

  • Developed and laid the basis for his critical literary tenets by linking the development of form in art with the history of the class struggle.

  • He frequently clashed with Jean-Paul Sartre and others who combined Marxism with psychoanalysis, structuralism and other philosophical currents inherently incompatible with Marxism.

Terry eagleton


  • Marxism and Literary Criticism

  • He was active in both the International Socialists and Workers Socialist League whilst in Oxford.

  • One of Britain's most influential living literary critics.

  • Raised in a working class Roman Catholic family.

  • “To call Terry Eagleton the most gifted Marxist thinker of his generation is only a slender acknowledgement of his critical and creative achievements.”~ Stephen Regen

  • He argues that value-judgements ‘have a close relation to social ideologies’ and this connection is embedded in all of our reading practices

Major texts

Major Texts

  • What is Orthodox Marxism? By Georg Lukacs

  • History and Class ConsciousnessBy Georg Lukacs

  • Marxism and Literature By Raymond Williams

  • Criticism and Ideology By Terry Eagleton

  • Marxists on Literature By David Craig

By sara clark and stacey ware

Feminist Theory and Criticism


Sara Clark and Stacey Ware

"Purple is to lavender as woman is to feminist" – Alice Walker



  • Study of concepts and symbols in fields such as literature, which create and perpetuate an image of women. It is the extension of feminism into philosophical or theoretical discourse aiming to understand the nature of gender inequality.

    Or for easier comprehension:

  • The symbols that create an image of women which is portrayed in literature.

    It helps the masculine-dominated culture to understand the nature of gender inequality.

New criticis m

1st Wave

  • 19th -20th century

  • Suffrage, working conditions, education rights

By: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton

New criticis m

2nd Wave

  • 1960-1980

  • Inequality in laws, role of women,

    cultural inequalities

Betty Friedan wrote and published her book in 1963.

New criticis m

3rd Wave



  • Late 1980s-early 21st century

  • Failures

  • Rebecca Walker

New criticis m



of feminism is one that desires to include all.

Women along with men are encouraged to help support these age old stereotypes.

We want everyone to be free to be who they are, and most importantly to be themselves.

Star figures

Star Figures

Julia Kristeva

  • Living: June 1941- Present

  • French/ Bulgarian

  • Bonds between mother and child

  • “Truly feminist innovation in all fields requires an understanding of the relation between maternity and feminine creation.”

  • Patriarchal society

Susan Gubar

  • Born 1944

  • Taught at Indiana State

Sandra Gilbert

Both Susan and Sandra

Pulitzer Prize and National

Critics Circle Award

3 Books

  • Born December 27, 1936

  • Taught at University of California

  • Poet

Pictures of feminists

Pictures ofFeminists

Sandra Gilbert

Madwoman in the Attic is widely recognized as a text central to second- wave feminism



Susan Gubar

New criticis m











Things to look for:

New criticis m


To rediscover the works of women writers overlooked by the masculine-dominated culture.

New historicism

New Historicism

A definition

A Definition

  • New Historicism can be defined as a focus on the ideological oppositions of a time period and how those oppositions have shaped the structure and format of the work. The work conveys the ideologies of a particular time period along with other works such as pamphlets, political documents, essays, and other non-literature works. It refuses to privilege literary texts.



  • Prior to the emergence of New Historicism, there was a prevailing idea that the historical context of the work and the author’s intent for writing were not important for understanding it. This is known as the “intentional fallacy.”

  • The pioneers of New Historicism denied the intentional fallacy and believed that the socio-political atmosphere and beliefs of the author affected the work.

  • This approach brought literature back to reality rather than believing that it was only something transient and removed from issues.



  • Appeared in America in the early 1980’s.

  • Similar to Marxist theory because both see literature through the eyes of the political structure of the day. They are dissimilar in that New Historicism focuses more on the top echelon of society rather than the lower echelons.

  • Term first coined by Stephen Greenblatt in The Power of Forms in the English Renaissance.

Interests goals


  • Focus on government, institutions, culture, politics, and anthropology.

  • Shows the political emphasis and side of literature.

  • Attempts to catch the ideology of a time in the literature, and the role the literature had in spreading that ideology.

  • Mediates and shapes rather than imitating and reflecting an age’s understanding of human experience.

  • Goals:

    • Place literature with non-literature of an age.

    • Reconstruct the actual relations of people in an age.

Major beliefs

Major Beliefs

  • Literature is historical and shaped by many people in a time period and culture and must be understood with history as a whole.

  • Literature must be assimilated into history, which means a particular version of history.

  • History is a series of “raptures” between ages and men; man in each age is different.

  • An historian is stuck in his or her own time and history; therefore, at best New Historicism is a reconstruction of an ideology.

Some texts

Some Texts

  • Renaissance Self-Fashioning by Stephen Greenblatt

  • “Shaping Fantasies”, an essay on Shakespeare by Louis Adrian Montrose

  • Representations, a journal on New Historicism

Major players

Major Players

  • Stephen Greenblatt—the first true New Historicist

  • Louis Adrian Montrose

  • Jonathan Dillimore

  • Jane Tompkins

  • Don E. Wayne

  • Walter Benn Michaels

  • Cathrine Gallagher

  • Arthur F. Marotti

  • Jean E. Howard

  • Stephen Orgel

  • Annabel Patterson

  • Peter Stallybrass

Greenblatt s 5 major tenets of new historicism

Greenblatt’s 5 Major Tenets of New Historicism

  • One must begin with specific details, anecdotes, and examples to avoid a totalizing version of history.

  • Proceed from such details, no matter how insignificant, in order to illustrate how they are tied up with larger conflicting ideologies of a time period.

  • Remember to check one’s own biases and beliefs.

  • Be suspicious of “liberatory narratives.” Everything is somehow related to exchanges of power in a time period.

  • Anything can be examined because everything reveals the conflicting ideologies of a time period.



  • Louis Althusser—French structuralist Marxist whose work helped develop the concept of ideology which is now in New Historicism.

  • Michel Foucault—generalized and secondhand influence on New Historicism. Also helped shape the concept of ideology from his épistémes, a form or concept similar to ideology.



  • Is there a personal bias with the ideology?

  • Are my assumptions poisoning the meaning of the text?

An example

An Example…

“Louis Adrian Montrose interprets A Midsummer Night’s Dream as an ideological attempt to comprehend the power of Queen Elizabeth—to make sense of it and place it safely within bounds—while simultaneously upholding the authority of males within Elizabethan culture. By citing a variety of contemporary writing (in order to reinstate the ‘discursive practices’ of the age), Montrose demonstrates the Elizabethans’ ambivalence toward their queen: abiding respect mixed with a dark desire to master her sexually. In this context, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is reread as a fable of the restoration of male governance. Mothers are significantly excluded from the dramatis personae of the play, just as the danger of matriarchy (with which the Elizabethans flirted in their fascination with the myth of the Amazons) was quietly suppressed by the celebration of Elizabeth’s virginity. The very real possibility that power might actually be passed from mother to daughter was concealed from women of the age by such cultural productions as Shakespeare’s play, in which Elizabeth was a willing collaborator as much by her decision to remain unwed and barren as by her ‘cultural presence’ within the play.”

Another example

Another Example…

“The way Shakespeare describes Caliban and Sycorax relates to many tales about the Native Americans. The name Caliban is so close to the word Cannibal. Sycorax was killed by Prospero for being a ‘witch’. The Tempest explains how settlers treated Natives. They owned the lands then lost them: they had to learn the settlers’ languages, and were shipped to Europe to be ‘displayed’ Caliban was taken as Prospero’s slave. Caliban was described just like the ‘Indians’ were as savages. Prospero and Miranda would be the Conquistadors who first enslaved the Native Americans. They described the Natives in both the text and in the colonies in a way so that they could dehumanize these people so others wouldn’t stand against them but rather join them.”

Post colonial literary theory

Post-Colonial Literary Theory


Patrick Sawyer

Tanner Nelson



Literary theory that analyzes the effects caused by time under foreign rule on the colonized and the colonizer

Typically very critical of colonization and its effects

Edward said

Edward Said

Wrote Orientalism, which discusses the West’s domination of Asia and its effects, most notably the culture

Specialized in study, and denouncement, of Western imperialism in the Orient

Gayatri chakravorty spivak

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Wrote extensively on how those oppressed by a foreign power are shaped into that power’s mold

Delved heavily into effects on the subaltern, or those within the colonized who are oppressed

Homi k bhabha

Homi K. Bhabha

Examined the “hybridisation” caused from the mixing of the cultures of the colonized and colonizer

Location and timing

Location and Timing

Former colonies of European imperialist powers such as Great Britain/United Kingdom, Spain, and France along with United States

Theory came into play during the 1970s

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