Literary criticism
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Literary Criticism. A Summary of Critical Movements. Historical Criticism. One of the traditional methods. Art seen as a reflection of the author’s life and times (or the characters’ life and times)

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Literary Criticism

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Literary criticism

Literary Criticism

A Summary of Critical Movements

Historical criticism

Historical Criticism

  • One of the traditional methods.

  • Art seen as a reflection of the author’s life and times (or the characters’ life and times)

  • Necessary to know about the author and the political, economical and sociological context of the time period to understand a work.

  • New Historicism is a revival of this idea, except that it analyses whether the author agreed with culture or was subversive to culture.

Moral philosophical

Moral Philosophical

  • Purpose: to teach morality and probe philosophical issues.

  • Recognizes that the message of a work—not just the vehicle for that message—is important.

  • Helps place allusions in proper classical, political or biblical background as well as to consider the themes of works.



  • Close reading and analyzing of the elements such as setting, irony, paradox, imagery and metaphor help reading stand on its own.

  • Awareness of denotative and connotative implications.

  • Many times performed without research with the assumption that all information necessary is found within the work itself.



  • Associated with the work of Sigmund Freud and his followers.

  • Emphasis on the unconscious aspects of the human psyche.

  • Human behavior is motivated by the libido

  • Because of the powerful social taboos associated with sex, many desires and memories are repressed.

  • A way of explaining difficult characters with emotional issues.

Mythological archetypal


  • Focuses on patterns of traditional archetypes (like a hero going on a journey filled with obstacles), or mythological archetypes (like Persephone and Demeter’s mother/daughter relationship).

  • Probes for the inner spirit which gives the outer form its vitality and enduring appeal.

  • Affinities with religion, anthropology and cultural history.

Feminist approaches

Feminist Approaches

  • Examines the experiences of women from all races, classes, cultures.

  • Exposes “patriarchal” ideas and resulting prejudices.

  • Describes how women in texts are constrained by culture and society.

  • Sometimes works hand-in-hand with the mythological or archetypal approaches to recognize continuations of female patterns.

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