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  1. Tutorial TheoriesandMethods Tutorial for 22.04.2014 Set texts: Berensmeyer, Ingo. Literary Theory: An Introduction to Approaches, Methods and Terms. (reader pp. 13-22) Culler, Jonathan. LiteraryTheory: A veryshortIntroduction. (reader pp. 23-30) Tutorial Theories and Methods

  2. 1. LiteraryTheory (Berensmeyer) • literary theory into literary practice = read literary texts while being theoretically informed • literary theory as constant debate of a field in permanent development, expansion and change • questions about “constitutive elements” (poetics and aesthetics) and about place, function and purpose of literature (politics and ethics) Tutorial Theories and Methods

  3. Questions commonly asked when thinking about literature: • What is literature? • What makes up a (literary) text? • Which types of literature are there, and how do they differ? • Which relationship exists between literature and its environment? • Which roles do authors, readers, other texts play? • How is literature linked with aspects of gender, politics, ethics, etc.? • How is literature related to other media? Tutorial Theories and Methods

  4. How to approach a theory • Step 1: try to understand key terms and arguments of the theory and attempt to apply it • Step 2: What can this theory explain? Where are its limits? • use the theory cautiously as a tool for analysis and understanding, but also stay aware that there are other theories for different goals Tutorial Theories and Methods

  5. Different kinds of theory • Hard-core vs. Soft theory: see table 1.1 on page 19 of your reader (Berensmeyer, p.13) • cliché: inherent difference between both sciences, which brands humanities both softer and weaker • use of metaphors as “travelling concepts” in literary theory, because they are dynamic, open and thus support the constant development of the field Tutorial Theories and Methods

  6. Terminology • approach ≠ theory, but how you advance a text • intrinsic (text-oriented), extrinsic (context-oriented), author- and reader-oriented approaches see table 1.2 on page 20 of your reader • context can consist of other texts (intertextuality, etc.) or of extratextual reality (history) • method = a mode or strategy of reading that can be taught (including rules and techniques of interpretation) • theory provides foundations and principles • method = practical, theory = abstract Tutorial Theories and Methods

  7. History of literary theory • domains of literature and culture are liable to change and development, as is theory  literary theory is doubly unstable • influence of philosophy on literary theory in the past and present: follows major philosophical trends • former focus on poetics (product-oriented) changes into focus on aesthetics (process-oriented), the producer and the recipient • see also timeline on page 22 of your reader Tutorial Theories and Methods

  8. 2. Theoretical Schools andMovements (Culler) Beforethe 1960s • Russian Formalism • early 20th century • focus on “literariness of literature” (Culler, 2000: 122), i.e. form and techniques of language • verbal strategies and devices, language itself, estranging of experiences by language • important names: Roman Jakobson, Victor Shklovsky, Boris Eichenbaum Tutorial Theories and Methods

  9. 2. New Criticism • 1930s and 1940s in the U.S. • literature as aesthetic rather than historical • focus on verbal features, their interaction and meaning, ambiguity, paradox, irony, connotation effects and poetic imagery • every instance of poetry is understood to contribute to a “unified structure” (Culler, 2000: 122) of integrated literature • techniques of close reading and tests of criticism for its usefulness and validity Tutorial Theories and Methods

  10. 3. Phenomenology • early 20th century • centered on the work of Edmund Husserl • there is no ultimate reality, but a phenomenal reality of objects (also texts), which entails individual understanding (also readings) of these • focus: production of meaning, i.e. the reader’s conscious experience (reader-response criticism, aesthetics of reception) • the readers’ expectations and aesthetic norms influence their perception of the object, i.e. the text Tutorial Theories and Methods

  11. 4. Structuralism • 1950s and 1960s, primarily French thinkers • Ferdinand de Saussure’s theory of language was applied to concepts of other fields • with literary studies: works are not re-interpreted but their existing meanings and effects are sought to be understood • focus: production of meaning, i.e. unconscious structures of experience and interpretation  which underlying structures/ codes make experience possible? • reader = agent of meaning • important names: Claude Lévi-Strauss, Roman Jakobson, Roland Barthes, Gérard Genette, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser Tutorial Theories and Methods

  12. 5. Post-Structuralism • goes beyond structuralism with the claim that structures/ signifying systems cannot be described entirely or objectively • all structures “are entangled with the forces that produce them” (Culler, 2000: 125), i.e. theories become entangled with the phenomena they describe and objectivity becomes impossible • critique of totality, knowledge and the idea of the subject • important names: Barthes, Lacan, Foucault Tutorial Theories and Methods

  13. 6. Deconstruction • 1970s, Jacques Derrida • similar to post-structuralism: critique of objective knowledge and a subject with knowledge of him-/herself • critique of common binaries and hierarchial oppositions: mind vs. body, presence vs. absence, nature vs. culture, form vs. meaning… • focus on the deconstruction of Western thought in order to reveal it as constructed: show that an opposition is not natural or inevitable but a discoursively produced construction that needs to be dismantled Tutorial Theories and Methods

  14. 7. Feminist Theory • feminism = social and intellectual movement and debate • deconstruction of opposition man vs. woman • discussion of female identity, fight for female rights, promotion of female writing, critique of heterosexual norm determining the world • Elaine Showalter’s distinction: feminist critique (of male assumptions) and gynocriticism (of female experience and literature) Tutorial Theories and Methods

  15. 8. Psychoanalysis • mode of interpretation, theory of language, identity and the subject • = a “meta-language or technical vocabulary that can be applied to literary works” (Culler, 2000: 128), a hermeneutic = process of understanding and interpreting a text • texts are replayed in order to be understood 9. Marxism • texts as cultural products are part of a superstructure and produced on an economic base • interpretation of cultural products relates back to this basis of economics; the individual is determined by the social basis • subject = effect of unconscious processes, discourse and those practices organizing society • important name: Althusser Tutorial Theories and Methods

  16. 10. New Historicism (U.S.)/Cultural Materialism (GB) • 1980s and 1990s • focus on the subject and the text under historical circumstances: form and signs are analyzed in the context of their (time of) production  cause and effect idea • subject = historically constituted • new historicism seeks connections among texts, discourses, different understandings of subjectivity, etc. Tutorial Theories and Methods

  17. 11. Post-Colonial Theory • focus on the effects of European colonialism and “hybrid [post-colonial] subjects” (Culler, 2000:130) • strong link to Western discoursive practices • important name: Edward W. Said Tutorial Theories and Methods

  18. 12. Minority Discourse • especially in the U.S. • black, Latino, Asian-American, Native American writing and discourse • goal: strengthen cultural identity of minorities and celebrating multiculturalism • development of concepts for the analysis of cultural traditions • marginal position is utilized to reveal majority assumptions and take part in majority discourse Tutorial Theories and Methods

  19. 13. Queer Theory • marginal position is utilized to analyze the culturally constructed centre, i.e. heterosexual norm • questions culture and cultural constructions of sexuality • linked to social liberation movements • important names: Eve Sedgwick, Judith Butler Tutorial Theories and Methods

  20. Questions? Tutorial Theories and Methods