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Selected Readings of Modern & Contemporary Literary Theories Why and How Before and After New Criticism Example 1: Rene Magritte Example 2: “Mindscape” Discussion Starters What is(are) your interested field(s) and how do you do literary criticism?
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Why and How
Before and After New Criticism
Example 1: Rene Magritte
Example 2: “Mindscape”
Examples: 1. Representation, Structure, Writing, Discourse, Narrative, Figurative Language, Performance, Author, Interpretation, Intention,
2. Unconscious, Determinacy/Indeterminacy, Value/Evaluation, Influence, Rhetoric,
3. Culture, Canon, Popular Culture, Literary History, Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Ideology, Diversity, Imperialism/Nationalism, Desire, Ethics, Class
-- no longer “literary study,” ignoring the beauty or essence of literature (e.g. Frank Kermode clip 1; E. Said clip 5);
-- “keep politics lukewarm”; a mere word play or mind game; abstract and obscure; separate from reality or politics
-- “fetishization” of theories (T. Eagleton); clip 3
-- Interdisciplinary clip 2
-- It provides us new frameworks and perspectives; helps us ask new questions of the texts we study and about our lives.
-- democratization of English Studies.clip 4
e.g. my own experienceWhy Theory?
Topics: Oedipalization, the uncanny, narcissism, repetition compulsion, Trauma andlife story, – the different ‘plots’ we follow
3. “There is no unspatialized social reality” – Power relations in social space: e.g. Modes of Production, Class and Ideology, Discourse, spatial practice, and postmodern space
1. The synchronic vs. the diachronic; langue vs. parole// competence vs. performance
2. Language is a system of difference. Meaning occurs in binary opposition between two signs. (e.g. toy, boy)
3. sign = signifier and signified; the connection between them is arbitrary.
Plato – the realm of appearance vs. the realm of Form poetry twice removed
Aristotle –Three unity, etc.Examples of binarism in traditional literary theories
Plato – poetry tells lies and excites emotions.
Pope -- golden rules; restraint, good taste, Dryden: "wit": propriety of thoughts and words
Romantic poets: imagination
New Criticism: Setting up Literature as a discipline (autonomy, organicism, etc.)
An “objective” approach, just as Structuralism is scientificExamples of binarism in traditional literary theories (2)
The lines are no longer clear-cut. Autonomy and Absolute truth are out.