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British Literature: Literary Theory

A guide for ENG 240 Foundations of British Literature.

Schools of Literary Theory

Marxist Theory ilustrated.

These are just a few of the schools of literary theory:

  • Psychoanalytic - explores the role of consciousnesses and the unconscious in literature including that of the author, reader, and characters in the text

  • Marxism (see Marxist literary criticism) – which emphasizes themes of class conflict

  • Feminist - in the most general and simple terms, feminist literary criticism before the 1970s—in the first and second waves of feminism—was                       concerned with the politics of women's authorship and the representation of women's condition within literature.

  • New Historicism –  which examines the work through its historical context and seeks to understand cultural and intellectual history through literature

  • New Criticism – looks at literary works on the basis of what is written, and not at the goals of the author or biographical issues

  • Postcolonialism – focuses on the influences of colonialism in literature, especially regarding the historical conflict resulting from the exploitation of less              developed countries and indigenous peoples by Western nations

  • Structuralism – examines the universal underlying structures in a text, the linguistic units in a text and how the author conveys meaning through any             structures

  • Post-structuralism – a catch-all term for various theoretical approaches (such as deconstruction) that criticize or go beyond Structuralism's aspirations to create a rational science of culture by extrapolating the model of linguistics to other discursive and aesthetic formations

  • Deconstruction – a strategy of close reading that elicits the ways that key terms and concepts may be paradoxical or self-undermining, rendering their          meaning undecidable

  • Queer theory – examines, questions, and criticizes the role of gender identity and sexuality in literature

    ~ from Wikipedia


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