Print this page Layers of the legend The Queen of Sheba - an exotic and mysterious woman of power - is immortalised in the world's great religious works, among them the Hebrew Bible and the Muslim Koran.
Literary and Cultural Theory 1. What Is Literary Theory?
Literary theory refers to any principles derived from internal analysis of literary texts or from knowledge external to the text that can be applied in multiple interpretive situations. All critical practice regarding literature depends on an underlying structure of ideas in at least two ways: For example, to speak of the "unity" of Oedipus the King explicitly invokes Aristotle's theoretical statements on poetics.
Critics that explain the climactic drowning of Edna Pontellier in The Awakening as a suicide generally call upon a supporting architecture of feminist and gender theory. The structure of ideas that enables criticism of a literary work may or may not be acknowledged by the critic, and the status of literary theory within the academic discipline of literary studies continues to evolve.
Literary theory and the formal practice of literary interpretation runs a parallel but less well known course with the history of philosophy and is evident in the historical record at least as far back as Plato.
The Cratylus contains a Plato's meditation on the relationship of words and the things to which they refer. Modern literary theory gradually emerges in Europe during the nineteenth century. In one of the earliest developments of literary theory, German "higher criticism" subjected biblical texts to a radical historicizing that broke with traditional scriptural interpretation.
This dispute was taken up anew by the French theorist Roland Barthes in his famous declaration of the "Death of the Author. Nietzsche's critique of knowledge has had a profound impact on literary studies and helped usher in an era of intense literary theorizing that has yet to pass.
Attention to the etymology of the term "theory," from the Greek "theoria," alerts us to the partial nature of theoretical approaches to literature. This is precisely what literary theory offers, though specific theories often claim to present a complete system for understanding literature.
The current state of theory is such that there are many overlapping areas of influence, and older schools of theory, though no longer enjoying their previous eminence, continue to exert an influence on the whole.
The once widely-held conviction an implicit theory that literature is a repository of all that is meaningful and ennobling in the human experience, a view championed by the Leavis School in Britain, may no longer be acknowledged by name but remains an essential justification for the current structure of American universities and liberal arts curricula.
The moment of "Deconstruction" may have passed, but its emphasis on the indeterminacy of signs that we are unable to establish exclusively what a word means when used in a given situation and thus of texts, remains significant. Many critics may not embrace the label "feminist," but the premise that gender is a social construct, one of theoretical feminisms distinguishing insights, is now axiomatic in a number of theoretical perspectives.
While literary theory has always implied or directly expressed a conception of the world outside the text, in the twentieth century three movements—"Marxist theory" of the Frankfurt School, "Feminism," and "Postmodernism"—have opened the field of literary studies into a broader area of inquiry.
Marxist approaches to literature require an understanding of the primary economic and social bases of culture since Marxist aesthetic theory sees the work of art as a product, directly or indirectly, of the base structure of society.
Feminist thought and practice analyzes the production of literature and literary representation within the framework that includes all social and cultural formations as they pertain to the role of women in history.
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Postmodern thought consists of both aesthetic and epistemological strands. Postmodernism in art has included a move toward non-referential, non-linear, abstract forms; a heightened degree of self-referentiality; and the collapse of categories and conventions that had traditionally governed art.
Postmodern thought has led to the serious questioning of the so-called metanarratives of history, science, philosophy, and economic and sexual reproduction.
Under postmodernity, all knowledge comes to be seen as "constructed" within historical self-contained systems of understanding.
ORIENTALISM AND HEART OF DARKNESS 2 Orientalism and Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad, one of the greatest novelists and stylists of 20th-century and modern society, has gained his worldwide fame for the way he makes use of vivid descriptions of exotic life, psychological analysis, distinctive novel narrative structure, and . The Rumpus Pushcart Prize Nominees! It’s Pushcart time! It’s like the Oscars for lit mags and small presses, except our clothes are less expensive and the swag bags are just New Yorker totes that we brought from home.. All joking aside, Pushcart nominations honor the best of what literary magazines and small book presses have offered us in the last year. Orientalism:. Some have argued that Orientalism is not an artistic movement as such, with a language and well defined characteristics that set it apart from whatever may have preceded or coexisted with it.
Marxist, feminist, and postmodern thought have brought about the incorporation of all human discourses that is, interlocking fields of language and knowledge as a subject matter for analysis by the literary theorist.
Using the various poststructuralist and postmodern theories that often draw on disciplines other than the literary—linguistic, anthropological, psychoanalytic, and philosophical—for their primary insights, literary theory has become an interdisciplinary body of cultural theory.
Taking as its premise that human societies and knowledge consist of texts in one form or another, cultural theory for better or worse is now applied to the varieties of texts, ambitiously undertaking to become the preeminent model of inquiry into the human condition.
Literary theory is a site of theories: The other schools of literary theory, to varying degrees, embrace a postmodern view of language and reality that calls into serious question the objective referent of literary studies.
The following categories are certainly not exhaustive, nor are they mutually exclusive, but they represent the major trends in literary theory of this century. Traditional Literary Criticism Academic literary criticism prior to the rise of "New Criticism" in the United States tended to practice traditional literary history: Literary biography was and still is an important interpretive method in and out of the academy; versions of moral criticism, not unlike the Leavis School in Britain, and aesthetic e.
Perhaps the key unifying feature of traditional literary criticism was the consensus within the academy as to the both the literary canon that is, the books all educated persons should read and the aims and purposes of literature.
What literature was, and why we read literature, and what we read, were questions that subsequent movements in literary theory were to raise. Formalism and New Criticism "Formalism" is, as the name implies, an interpretive approach that emphasizes literary form and the study of literary devices within the text.
The work of the Formalists had a general impact on later developments in "Structuralism" and other theories of narrative.
As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 75, lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed. Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness, provides social commentary of how western society ‘Orientalises’ Africa because of societal anxieties that manifested as a result of Charles Darwin’s Evolutionary Theory. Darwin’s theory proclaims the concept of the ‘survival of the fittest’, which advocates those who are best adapted to the environment . Art. The Shock of the New by Robert Hughes () Hughes charts the story of modern art, from cubism to the avant garde. The Story of Art by Ernst Gombrich () The most popular art book in history.
The Formalists placed great importance on the literariness of texts, those qualities that distinguished the literary from other kinds of writing.
Neither author nor context was essential for the Formalists; it was the narrative that spoke, the "hero-function," for example, that had meaning.THE SYMBOLISM OF FREEMASONRY: Illustrating and Explaining Its Science and Philosophy, Its Legends, Myths and Symbols.
by ALBERT GALLATIN MACKEY. A landmark work from the author of Orientalism that explores the long-overlooked connections between the Western imperial endeavor and the culture that both reflected and reinforced it.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as the Western powers built empires that stretched from Australia to the West Indies, Western artists created masterpieces ranging from Mansfield Park to Heart.
This clash of civilizations and the interplay between colonialist and natives from the colonial viewpoint, or in other words, their Orientalist prism, is one of the themes that Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness develops. Then, in Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, , Patrick Brantlinger applies this concept to the novel Heart of Darkness (see Chapters 6 and 9).
In two to three pages (excluding title and reference pages), discuss the application of orientalism to Conrad’s novel. Literature Study Guides for all your favorite books!
Get chapter summaries, in-depth analysis, and visual learning guides for hundreds of English Literary Classics. In Knowing the Oriental, Edward Said analyzes an attitude he calls “orientalism”. Then, in Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, , Patrick Brantlinger applies this concept to the novel Heart of Darkness (see Chapters 6 and 9).