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Flashcards in Criticisms Deck (20):

Lacanian criticism

Famous texts: "The Mirror Stage in the Formation of the I"
Major ideas: how selfhood is formed in a childhood act of misrecognition of the self, in which he becomes alienated from himself and enters the symbolic order; language shapes and maps an individual's consciousness
Related thinkers: Freud, Saussure, Hegel
Jargon: mirror, phallus, signifier/signified, substitution, desire, jouissance, objet petit a, imaginary/symbolic/real orders


Marxist criticism

Essential idea: texts are not timeless works subject to universal standards of evaluation. Individuals, consciousnesses, and their products (like literature) are shaped by historical and cultural context
Jargon: base and superstructure, class, proletariat, means of production, bourgeoisie, imperialism, dialectical materialism


New Historicism

A subset of Marxist criticism.
Major ideas: specific institutions of culture produce effects on the consciousness of society's members and the works they produce
Jargon: ideology (and its effects on consciousness)


Feminist, Black, and Post-Colonial Criticism

All work within Marxist/New Historicist frameworks.
Essentially critique Euro-American society's dominance and marginalization of the other from diff. perspectives
Jargon: patriarchy, imperialism, phallocratic/phallocentric, hegemony, Euro-American dominance


Psychological Criticism

The application of the analytical tools of psychology and psychoanalysis to authors and/or fictional characters in order to understand the underlying motivations and meanings of a literary work. Concerned with the universals of human consciousness and how the psyche manifests itself in literature. Considers authorial biography and personality as legitimate objects of study.
Jargon (of Freudian criticism in particular): Oedipal complex, libido, id, ego, superego, subconscious, repression, resistance
Consider too Bloom's Freudian idea of the "strong-poet," a father figure who exerts an anxious influence on later writers.


Archetype/Myth Criticism

Influenced by Jung's theories and those of James G. Frazer in The Golden Bough.
Major thinkers: Northrop Frye and Joseph Campbell
Major Ideas: Looks for recurring symbols, plots, motifs, character types, etc. across world literatures. Myth critics believe that these persistent, powerful stories point to universal needs in the human psyche--the collective unconscious


Linguistic Criticism

Incl. Formalism, New Criticism, etc.; those forms broadly concerned with language



Russian, 1920s.
Major Ideas: Explores how literature defamiliarizes expectations about linguistic structure to create new meaning through story, plot, voice, etc.


New Criticism

Anglo-American, mid-20C. dominant
Major Figures:TS Eliot, Robert Penn Warren, Cleanth Brooks, IA Richards, John Crowe Ransom, FR Leavis
Major idea: close reading and examination of text for inherent meaning in complex language
Jargon: ambiguity, irony, symbol, meaning



Continental Europe, mid-20C.; assoc. with Saussurean linguistics in particular
Major ideas: Like semiotics, interested in the linguistic underpinnings of literature; meaning is produced by structure of language
Jargon: sign, signifier, signified; look too for binary oppositions and spatial metaphors when describing a text's structure



Major schools/ideas: deconstruction; focus on the gaps, displacements, excesses of a text rather than its ordered, deliberate structure
Major Figures: above all, Derrida
Deconstructionist Jargon: erasure, trace, bracketing, differance, slippage, dissemination, logocentrism, indeterminacy, decentering
Post-Structuralist Jargon: mimesis, alterity, marginality, desire, lack


Reader-Response Criticism Major Focus: studying what happens in a reader's mind in the act of reading; the subjective experience of the literary text
Similar Schools: Reception Aesthetics
Major Figures; Stanley Fish, Wolfgang Iser, Barthes
Jargon: implied/ideal reader, horizon of expectations

Major Focus: studying what happens in a reader's mind in the act of reading; the subjective experience of the literary text
Similar Schools: Reception Aesthetics
Major Figures; Stanley Fish, Wolfgang Iser, Barthes
Jargon: implied/ideal reader, horizon of expectations


Lacan's model of the psyche

• Imaginary - a preverbal/verbal stage in which a child (around 6-18 months of age) begins to develop a sense of separateness from her mother as well as other people and objects; however, the child's sense of sense is still incomplete.
• Symbolic - the stage marking a child's entrance into language (the ability to understand and generate symbols); in contrast to the imaginary stage, largely focused on the mother, the symbolic stage shifts attention to the father who, in Lacanian theory, represents cultural norms, laws, language, and power (the symbol of power is the phallus--an arguably "gender-neutral" term).
• Real - an unattainable stage representing all that a person is not and does not have. Both Lacan and his critics argue whether the real order represents the period before the imaginary order when a child is completely fulfilled--without need or lack, or if the real order follows the symbolic order and represents our "perennial lack" (because we cannot return to the state of wholeness that existed before language).



Major figures include Edward Said (sah-EED), Homi Bhabha (bah-bah), Frantz Fanon (fah-NAWN), Gayatri Spivak, Chinua Achebe (ah-CHAY-bay) , Wole Soyinka, Salman Rushdie, Jamaica Kincaid, and Buchi Emecheta.



"an important concept in post-colonial theory, referring to the integration (or, mingling) of cultural signs and practices from the colonizing and the colonized cultures ("integration" may be too orderly a word to represent the variety of stratagems, desperate or cunning or good-willed, by which people adapt themselves to the necessities and the opportunities of more or less oppressive or invasive cultural impositions, live into alien cultural patterns through their own structures of understanding, thus producing something familiar but new). The assimilation and adaptation of cultural practices, the cross-fertilization of cultures, can be seen as positive, enriching, and dynamic, as well as as oppressive"



Sees interpretation as a circular process whereby valid interpretation can be achieved by a sustained, mutually qualifying interplay between our progressive sense of the whole and our retrospective understanding of its component parts. Two dominant theories that emerged from Wilhelm Dilthey's original premise were that of E. D. Hirsch who, in accord with Dilthey, felt a valid interpretation was possible by uncovering the work's authorial intent (though informed by historical and cultural determinants), and in contrast, that of Martin Heidegger (HIGH-deg-er) who argued that a reader must experience the "inner life" of a text in order to understand it at all. The reader's "being-in-the-world" or dasein is fraught with difficulties since both the reader and the text exist in a temporal and fluid state. For Heidegger or Hans Georg Gadamer (GAH-de-mer), then, a valid interpretation may become irrecoverable and will always be relative.



a moment of undecidability; the inherent contradictions found in any text. Derrida, for example, cites the inherent contradictions at work in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's use of the words culture and nature by demonstrating that Rousseau's sense of the self's innocence (in nature) is already corrupted by the concept of culture (and existence) and vice-versa.


Harlem Renaissance

A cultural movement that spanned the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke. Though it was centered in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, many French-speaking black writers from African and Caribbean colonies who lived in Paris were also influenced by the Harlem Renaissance.
Arna Bontemps — God Sends Sunday (1931), Black Thunder (1936)
Countee Cullen — One Way to Heaven (1932)
Jessie Redmon Fauset — There is Confusion (1924), Plum Bun (1928), The Chinaberry Tree (1931), Comedy, American Style (1933)
Rudolph Fisher — The Walls of Jericho (1928), The Conjure-Man Dies (1932)
Langston Hughes — Not Without Laughter (1930)
Zora Neale Hurston — Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934), Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
Nella Larsen — Quicksand (1928), Passing (1929)
Claude McKay — Home to Harlem (1927), Banjo (1929), Gingertown (1931), Banana Bottom (1933)
George Schuyler — Black No More (1931), Slaves Today (1931)
Wallace Thurman — The Blacker the Berry (1929), Infants of the Spring (1932), Interne (1932)
Jean Toomer — Cane (1923)
Carl Van Vechten — N*gger Heaven (1926)
Langston Hughes, Mulatto, produced on Broadway. Hughes also helped to found the Harlem Suitcase Theater
Zora Neale Hurston, author of the play Color Struck
Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay
W. E. B. Du Bois
Marcus Garvey


Irish Literary Revival

The Celtic Revival, also known as the Irish Literary Revival, was begun by Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and William Butler Yeats in Ireland in 1896. The Revival stimulated new appreciation of traditional Irish literature, written in the spirit of Irish culture, as distinct from English culture. Figures such as Yeats, J.M. Synge and Sean O'Casey wrote many plays and articles about the political state of Ireland at the time. These were connected with another great symbol of the literary revival, The Abbey Theatre, which served as the stage for many new Irish writers and playwrights of the time.


double consciousness

A term invented by WEB Du Bois to describe an individual whose identity is divided into several facets.

African Americans in particular struggle with a multi-faceted conception of self. This results from African slaves being torn away from their homeland and struggling to now define themselves as African American, even though they are not treated the same as other Americans. It also results from having to see themselves not only through their own eyes but through the eyes of the whites who for centuries had legal control over their lives; they are thus constantly aware of how much their own sense of identity and value conflicts with the identity and value imposed upon them by white America.