Literary Criticism & Theories

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Categories : Literary Theories

Literary Criticism & Theories

What is literature?

  • Word meaning is “a writing formed with letters”
  •  published work
  •  work of imagination and creative power
  • work with artistic/aesthetic qualities
  • work which tells a story (on human values, emotions, ideas, actions)
  • work which is still read centuries after its creation

Literature is a subjective discipline, which means there can not be one  certain or unquestionable truth of a work of literature. Literary works can be interpreted in a number of ways and can have more than one meaning. In this aspect, literature differs from the disciplines of science, which are based on experimental facts.

What is criticism?

  • Criticism is a term derived from the Greek words “krino” meaning “to judge” and “krites” meaning “a judge or jury person”
  • In general, criticism is the expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes.
  • In literary terms, criticism is the analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of a literary work

Why is literary criticism important?

  • Through literary criticism, readers produce different, often contradictory approaches and, in this way, advance/deepen arguments.
  • Literary criticism contributes to readers’ developing new perspectives and formulating their ideas on literary texts.
  • Through literary criticism, we can knowingly explore the questions that help define our humanity, critique our culture, evaluate our actions, or simply increase our appreciation and enjoyment of both a literary work and life itself.

What is literary theory?

Derived from the Greek word “theoria”, the word theory means a “view or perspective of the Greek stage.” Literary theory, then, offers to us a view of life, an understanding of why we interpret texts the way we do. Consider the various places in the theatre the audience may sit. Depending on our seats- whether we are close to the stage, far back, to the far left, to the far right, or in the middle row- our view and therefore our interpretation of the events taking place on the stage will change. Literary theory figuratively and literally asks where we are “sitting” when we are reading a text.

Literary Theory

  • Literary theoryis the philosophical discussion of literary criticism’s methods and goals
  •  well-articulated literary theory assumes that an innocent reading of a text or a sheerly emotional or spontaneous reaction to a work cannot exist. Theory questions the assumptions, beliefs, and feelings of readers, asking why they respond to a text in a certain way.
  • Whereas literary criticism involves our analysis of a text, literary theory is concerned with our understanding of the ideas, concepts and intellectual assumptions.

Major schools of literary criticism

  • Russian Formalism and New Criticism
  • Reader-Oriented Criticism
  • Modernity and Postmodernism: Structuralism and Deconstruction
  • Psychoanalytic Criticism
  • Feminism
  • Marxism
  • New Historicism
  • Mythological and Archetypal Approaches
  • Ecocriticism

Read Also: Types of Literary Criticism


1 comment on “Literary Criticism & Theories

    Victorian Age : Symbolism, Naturalism and Aesthetism – Wit Critic

    • June 27, 2023 at 10:20 pm

    […] form of privileging the world as given and being disinclined to any kind of change. In the field of literary criticism, positivism is reflected in realism and naturalism which shall be discussed later. Realism The […]

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