Literary Approaches in Criticizing Texts.
Critical approaches to literature reveal how or why a particular work is constructed and what its social and cultural implications are. Understanding critical perspectives will help you to see and appreciate a literary work as a multilayered construct of meaning. Reading literary criticism will inspire you to reread, rethink, and respond. Soon you will be a full participant in an endless and enriching conversation about literature.
Questions:1.) What biographical facts has the authorused in the text?2.) What biographical facts has the author changed? Why?3.) What insights do we acquire about the author’s life by reading the text?4.) How do these facts and insights increase (or diminish) our understanding of the text?5.) In what ways does the author seem to consider his or her own life as "typical" or significant?
Questions:1.) What specific historical events were happening when the work was being composed? (See timelines in history or literature texts.)2.) What historical events does the work deal with?3.) In what ways did historyaffectthe writer's outlook?4.) In what ways didhistoryaffect the style?language? content?5.) In what waysand for what reasonsdid the writer alterhistorical events?
Questions: 1.) Which geographical features in the text are actual?2.) What aspects of the geography are essential to the story? And which are non-essential?3.) To what extent has the geography limited the kind of story that can happen?4.) In what ways has the writer altered the geography to suit his or her purposes? Has the writer made any geographical errors?
Questions: 1.) What political events are significant in the text?2.) What political events were occurring at the time the text was written? (See timelines in history or literature texts.)3.) What political events were occurring at the time the text was written? 4.) What political beliefs does the author seem to have? And how are those beliefs shown?5.) What political beliefs does the author seem to dislike? How can you tell?
Questions: 1.) What religious or ethical beliefs does the text deal with directly? Are any religions or philosophies mentioned pecifically in the text?2.) What religious or ethical beliefs or philosophies does the author seem to favor? How can you tell?3.) What religious or ethical beliefs orphilosophies does the author seem todisfavor? How can you tell?4.) What behaviors do the characters display that the author wants us to think are “right”? How can youtell?5.) What behavior is“wrong”? How canyou tell?
Questions:1.) Are there any specific psychologists or psychological theories mentioned in the text? In what ways?2.) What theories of human behavior doesthe writer seem to believe? How can you tell?3.) What theories of human behavior doesthe writer seem to reject? How can you tell?4.) How do people’s minds work in the text? How do people think? How are their thoughts shown?5.) In what ways do the structure and organization of the text indicate the writer’s beliefs about the workings of the mind?
Questions: 1.) What sort of society does the author describe? (How is it set up? What rules are there? What happens to people who break them? Who enforces the rules?)2.) What does the writer seem to like or dislike about this society?3.) What changes do you think the writer would like to make in the society? And how can you tell?4.) What sorts of pressures does the society put on its members? How do the members respond to this pressure?
Why do you either identify or resist the cultural values of the piece?
Are you an insider or an outsider to the culture in this book?
How does the work reflect a particular culture or cultural values?
How does the culture reflected in the writing affect your understanding of it? How does your own culture affect your understanding of it?
What did the author want me to get out of this piece?
What techniques did the author use to get his/her point across?
How were those techniques used to develop theme? character?
How were those techniques used to manipulate the reader?
How did the time period in which the work was written affect how and why it was written?
How would the work be perceived in its own time period?
How does placing the piece in the context of our time period affect its meaning and how it is perceived?
Do you understand that my reactions to the text are symbolic rather than literal? Do I also understand that literal is still a good place to start?
Since I do realize that the text I respond to is symbolic of my reactions to aspects in my personality, I also realize that Lacan gave us categories for those symbols: the mother and the father. Which of these types of symbols am you responding to? Your need for security or safety (the mother)? Or your need for acceptance by others (the father)?
And for all of this, do you understand the mirror principle - the idea that we form images of ourselves based on how we think we are perceived by others?
What text - exact words, phrases, or passages - causes in you a strong emotional response? What exactly about that text is affecting your mirror image?
Do you understand that to look at a text from a Freudian point of view is to see it as symbolic rather than literal?
Do you understand that suppressed wants, needs, and even memories force their way through symbolically in dreams and - of course - writing?
What text - exact words, phrases, or passages - represents a symbolic expression of the author's sublimated wants and needs?
What conclusions can you draw about the author and his/her work based on your Freudian analysis of the text?
How is the work’s structure unified?
How do various elements of the work reinforce its meaning?
What recurring patterns (repeated or related words, images, etc.) can you find? What is the effect of these patterns or motifs?
How does repetition reinforce the theme(s)?
How does the writer’s diction reveal or reflect the work’s meaning?
What is the effect of the plot, and what parts specifically produce that effect?
What figures of speech are used?
Note the writer’s use of paradox, irony, symbol, plot, characterization, and style of narration. What effects are produced? Do any of these relate to one another or to the theme?
Is there a relationship between the beginning and the end of the story?
What tone and mood are created at various parts of the work?
How does the author create tone and mood? What relationship is there between tone and mood and the effect of the story?
How do the various elements interact to create a unified whole? Socio-Analytic
People are working only to have a good life.
Is there any evidence in the text indicating a possible secondary meaning?
Do you know enough about the primary meaning to attempt to find a secondary?
Assuming you have your initial clue, can you then adequately extend your secondary meanings throughout the work?
Do you really understand primary and a secondary meanings?
Elizabeth C. Neuda
Mery Grace Valin
Annaren de Mesa