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Some of my essays on literary theory

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Some of my essays on literary theory

Post by sassy86 on Tue May 22, 2012 10:05 pm

Hi mates Smile In this post I'll be posting some essays of mine of literary theory I wrote when I was student (don't mind mistakes if there are any)

HERE'S THE FIRST ESSAY ABOUT NEW CRITICISM (MASTER 1), I'LL BE POSTING MORE SOON


Initiated by I.A Richard and T.S Eliot, the literary theory called New-Criticism has revolutionized the course of history of literary criticism with its emphasis on the study of the figurative aspects of literature such as: symbols, paradox, and irony and the various techniques used in literature. These initiator critics 'passed on the torch' to other American critics who developed and perpetuated their views such as: Cleanth Brooks and Mark Schorer.


The New critics, such as Cleanth Brooks, had always been fascinated by poetry and tried to apply their new 'revolutionizing' views to this literary genre. Cleanth Brooks is mainly remembered for having revolutionized the teaching of poetry in the American universities. In his article “Language of Paradox” from The Well Wrought Urn (1947), Brooks states that 'the language of poetry is the language of paradox'. In fact, Brooks sees that poetry is characterized by its ambiguity and its ability to oppose the general opinion and transcend the common sense. Therefore, paradox is seen as the only mean to achieve this ambiguity. Another role played by the paradox is its capacity to 'estrange' or 'defamiliarize' common and familiar situations. In other words, paradox allows us to look at things from a different perspective and offers other ways of perceiving
reality. William Wordsworth's Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Brooks says, is a good example of the poet's attempt of making 'uncommon' of 'common' situations. In fact, the poem offers many paradoxical situations, notably when Wordsworth
describes the sleeping houses of London. As Wordsworth qualifies the houses as 'asleep', he is not alluding to the dead and monotonous London life but he is rather referring to the vividness of the city. Similarly, the Romantics' long for defamiliarizing reality is surprisingly shared by some Neo-classical poets such as Pope. Pope's The Essay on Man offers many paradoxes and
contradictions about man and thus provides another way of looking at the mysterious nature of man which resolves in the paradoxes which dominates him. According to Brooks, paradox cannot be dissociated from poetry since the poet is in a constant process of violating the 'dictionary meanings' of the terms and thus modifying our perception of reality.



Brooks new critical preferences, as well as that of many other New critics, concerning poetry did not divert him from considering drama as well. In fact, Brooks is a renowned Shakespearian critic. In his essay 'The Naked Babe and the Cloak of
Manliness'
(1947), Brooks explores Macbeth with introducing his views about dramatic criticism. Brooks views drama as poetry as he suggests to consider the play as a poem. Brooks sees a logical explanation for this analogy. In fact, when a play is performed, the audience does not look outside of the play to explain what is performed on stage. Instead, the audience makes
associations between the different acts and scenes in order to create a sense of coherence and whole. Similarly, the reader should concentrate on every word and line of the drama and draw analogies between them if s/he is to find the coherence and the sense of whole which the 'poet' or the dramatist seeks to convey. Besides, Brooks stresses on the importance of unity of the play as all its passages are inter-related. In fact, Brooks starts his essay by stating that there are 'chains of imagery' whose unity is difficult to find. Therefore, Brooks studies the various predominant symbols and images of the play and how
they are encompassed as this would inevitably lead him to disclose the central symbol of the play. By studying multiple symbols from various passages and relating them to other symbols and drawing analogies, Brooks seeks to find a
sense of whole and thus the general meaning of the play. In sum, these symbols carry meanings which could be seen as the keys to the general meaning of the tragedy. Indeed, Brooks's emphasis on metaphors and symbols is recurrent throughout the essay as he believes the play to be an extended metaphor whose fragments are scattered all around the play. Thus, the critic should gather these fragments by juxtaposing them so that to complete the mosaic.



Mark Schorer, for his part, is another eminent American New critic who played an important role in drawing an equal attention to fiction, as that given to poetry by many New critics. In his Technique as Discovery (1945), Schorer re-explores the Keatisian terms 'beauty' and 'truth' as main constituents of any literary text which are respectively synonyms of form and content. However, Schorer suggests more technical terms: technique as a surrogate of form and subject matter for content. For Schorer, the subject matter of a literary work is closely related to the experience of life. In other words, the literary work
should be as truthful as possible to human experience. Yet, Schorer sees that the technique is primordial for the writer in his quest for conveying the intended meaning of his subject matter. Schorer sees that the role of technique, or the manipulation of language, can be seen in its capacity to encompass larger meanings of the literary work which the writer seeks to convey.
Another role which can be attributed to technique is that it 'objectifies the materials of art' as it allows the writer to be more detached from his subject matter by letting the technique speak of the literary work. Furthermore, Schorer sees that certain writers are more capable of handling these 'sharper tools', that are the techniques, than others and as a result their works are
more likely to achieve the intended meaning as they leave an impression of 'thickness and resonance'. Thus, he suggests the study of some examples of novels so that to demonstrate that every writer has a technique which may be adequate, serving his purpose, or inadequate, disserving it, in some cases. Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Schorer says, is a good example of
accomplished technique. Indeed, Emily Bronte's choice of a double narration as technique succeeds in alleviating the large time spend of her material and consequently achieves to reproduce her 'world of value'. Contrarily, Schorer presents Daniel Dufoe's Moll Flanders as a novel which does not succeed in conveying its intended material (i.e.: morality). In sum, Schorer emphasizes on the function of technique in conveying meaning but stresses also on the importance of precaution when handling this 'sharp tool' which can be very keen.



To conclude, the New American critics seem to share many characteristics in their critical study, notably their focus on the intrinsic elements of a literary work as its meaning is to be found in the form. Indeed, New-Criticism seeks to give a scientific touch to the critical thinking in its quest for the only 'correct' interpretation of literature through a rigid and 'objective' study. Thus, it becomes clear that the New critics, through their appreciation of literary devices and structural study of the text, acknowledge the previously obscured ambiguity and complexity of literary language.


**********************


-Guys and gals, I don't post these to encourage cheating, i'm just trying to help by giving you an idea of what's literary theory like, so when you have a work to do please do it, you won't be cheating on your teacher or me, but only on yourselves
No . Best regards to all Smile
-REMARK: The quotes are not acknowledged using references because that would take me some time to go back to the original texts and put references at the end of each essay though generally I do put them between brackets, but YOU have to acknowledge them
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Re: Some of my essays on literary theory

Post by sassy86 on Wed May 23, 2012 4:47 pm

Hi again :)We continue with an essay tracing the history of literary criticism (from the Classics to Romanticism, all including Renaissance literary critics and Neo-classicists) 1st year Master LMD


***Essay about history of literary criticim from Classicism to Romanticism***


The instinct of communicating one's thoughts and ideas has marked the history and notably that of literature in its oral and written aspect. As it is, the latter had always been more patterned and elaborated. Obviously, this codified language conveyed a certain meaning that some tended to interpret through different phases of history.



Western critical thinking began with Aristotle who was a disciple of Plato. Plato's view of literature is characterized by political concerns. He even saw poets as dangerous and thus banished them from his Republic. On the contrary, Aristotle's theory is devoided from any political theory, and consequently his critical approach is more intrinsic. With Plato we notice that there was no specific word for 'art'. The only word which included that meaning is the notion of 'craft'. Perhaps one of the first things Aristotle tried to do in his Poetics was to define art. Aristotle saw art as an imitation of nature. In other words, art raises from man's natural instinct of imitating nature or 'mimesis' by creating an illution of reality. Aristotle's main contribution to criticism may be seen in his classification of genres. Unlike Plato who thought poetry to be dangerous, Aristotle attributed poetry the functions of teaching and providing pleasure. Similarly, Horace in his The Art of Poetry gave a definition of the aim of poets as he said: "Poets aim at giving either profit of delight, or at combining the giving of pleasure with some useful percepts for life'. In other words, the aim of poets is to make their words please and give lessons of life at the same time. In addition, Horace was against the mixing of genres. Another roman critic known as Cassius Longinus author of On the Sublime advised poets to be perfect and submile and to make their language dignified and elevated. These ancient classical texts were to be re-discovered and to have an evident influence later on in the literary milieu of the Renaissance and with Neo-classical critics.




During the middle ages, the critical literary activity was neglected until the Renaissance which was marked by a re-discovery of ancient classical texts which were to have a great impact later on on the Neo-classical critics. One remarkable literary critic was Sir Philip Sidney who was facinated by the ancient Italian critics from whom he was to inherit the rijid authority, notably his disapproval of the mixing of genres. In fact, Sidney brought Aristotle's Poetics to England. Indeed, Sir Philip Sidney contributed widely with his An Apology for Poetry (1580) in pathing the way for the Neo-classicist critics such as Dryden, Pope and Johnson. Dryden was one of the major Neo-classicist critics. The fundamental Aristotelian theory of unities are seen as rigid rules to follow in his Essay of Dramatist Poetry (1668). Even though Shakespeare did not follow these rules, Dryden saw him as Homer but he did not believe that the classical age can be reached again. For him, writers were writing on sand compared to the ancients who wrote on marble. Another critic who was considered as the embodiment of the 18th C.y Neo-classical ideals in Alexander Pope. These ideals such as order and moderation are concreticized in his An Essay on Criticism (1711). According to Pope, there is no need to imitate nature because nature was perfectly imitated by the classics, as he said: ' Nature and Homer were the same'. Thus, a literary work must obey the rules of the ancients. Samuel Johnson is considered as the last important critic of Neo-classicism. In fact, his age was the age when pre-Romantic ideas started to emerge. Beeing a conservative, he was against romantic ideals such as change and innovation. But even if he was against breaking the rules of the classics, he made an exception for Shakespeare in his Prefaces to the Plays of Shakespeare (1765) who, according to him, was the poet of nature. In fact, Johnson appears as a Neo-classicist through his authority and defence of conformity but we can qualify him as a transitional critic standing between a traditional view of literature and a new conception of literature...That of the Romanticism.




Lyrical Ballads
(1800) written by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge marked the beginning of the Romantic movement. By writing the preface to this book, Wordsworth tried to prepare as well as define to his audience the nature of his new innovating poetry. In this preface, Wordsworth gave his famous definition of poetry as :' The spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings'. According to Worsworth, poetry should no longer conform to the rules imposed by the Neo-classicists but rather take its essence in the recollection of emotions experienced through the poet's own contemplation of nature. Unlike the Neo-classicists who saw the poetry of the classics as the faithful and reliable description of nature, Wordsworth relied on the poet's 'imaginative re-creation' rather than imitation. Wordsworth wanted poetry to be based on genius and originality. He saw the poet as an ordinary man endowed with more vivid qualities as sensibility than the rest of mankind. For him a countryman would make a good poet because he was the closest to nature. Furthermore, poetry for Wordsworth should be based in 'real language of men' and 'language closely resembling that og real life'. Unlike the traditional conception of literature who attributed literature the task of teaching and delighting, Wordsworth limited its role to delighting and giving pleasure. Besides, Wordsworth thought that poetry had a healing power or a capacity to console us. The Neo-classicist and the Romantic theories seems to be opposed, as the latter takes fancy and innovation as ideals whereas the Neo-classicists advocated moderation and conformity to the rules and conventions.



Throughout the previous literary perceptions studied it is obviously appearant that there is no perfect and absolute theory of literature. The latter varies in different periods of history according to the needs and concerns of its poeple. Indeed, all theories -whether ancient or modern- are 'embroidering' the endless history of critical literary thinking.


More essays soon Very Happy
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Re: Some of my essays on literary theory

Post by wonderland20 on Wed May 23, 2012 7:58 pm

amazing work dear sassy
hats off
We love you
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Re: Some of my essays on literary theory

Post by sassy86 on Wed May 23, 2012 9:42 pm

Ohhh thank you my sweet friend , i'm so glad that you enjoyed it Love you too, YOU matter most
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Re: Some of my essays on literary theory

Post by sabine on Sat May 26, 2012 9:39 pm

Thank you Sassy. I enjoyed it bless you sister.
I'd like to share with you an essay of mine, too.
The development of literary criticism from Plato to Matthew Arnold.


Literary criticism is the study concerned with: defining, classifying, analyzing, interpreting and evaluating literary works. This critical thinking has embodied various shapes and aims through different phases of history. The modern literary critic M.H Abrams holds, in the first chapter “Orientation of Critical Theories” of his book The Mirror and the Lamp, that literary theory can be divided into four categories: mimetic, pragmatic, expressive and objective. In this book, Abrams gives an insight to grasp literary theories since Plato. In the present work, we aim to classify the major critics who marked the history of literary criticism according to Abrams’ orientations.

Mimetic theory focuses on the relationship between text and universe claiming that the artist is an imitator of aspects of the observable universe. So, a literary work is evaluated in terms of imitation. Mimetic theory’s main goal is to determine how well a literary work connects with the universe. Aristotle, a disciple of the Greek poet and critic Plato, marks the beginning of literary criticism in western world. The idea that art imitates reality traces back to him. In fact, in his Poetics (4 B.C) he makes mimesis central to poetry. Aristotle interprets imitation as a creative process unlike Plato who considers it as a servile copy of nature. Indeed, he argues that imitation needs talent and imaginative power. Plato’s disciple attributes poetry the function of delighting in addition to that of teaching. In this context, the British critic Gary Day states: “with Aristotle we inch away from poetry as ethics to poetry as aesthetics.” Aristotle shows that different kinds of poetry produce different kinds of pleasure i.e. the pleasure produced by a tragedy differs from the one derived from a comedy. Similarly, Horace in his The Art of Poetry (18 B.C) claims that a good poem should both instruct and delight to achieve fame and immortality. This is shown in his definition of the aim of poets: “poets aim either to do good or to give pleasure-or thirdly to say things which are both pleasing and serviceable for life.” On the basis of the mimetic theory the pragmatic theory is founded. With Roman critics, the idea of using mimesis as a means toward pleasing and entertaining the readers sees light.

The focus of interest has shifted from a text-universe relation to a text- audience relation. The pragmatic poet is measured by his capacity to satisfy the public taste. A great surge of interest to the poetic effect of literature on the audience is given by the Roman critic Cassius Longinus. In his On the Sublime (1 A.D), he argues that poetry should be sublime and useful. In defining the sublime, he says that: “it is an excellent poetic creation with power to please, persuade and move the readers through the upliftment of their souls.” According to Longinus, imitation is one path to the sublime. In fact, he has analyzes three sources of sublimity: natural genius, imitation and imagination. However, by imitating the poet’s main aim is to excite and please the audience. After the Roman period, there has been a gap in the history of literary criticism. This happened during the middle ages, an era of darkness and ignorance, where the critical literary activity was neglected. This lasted until the Renaissance which knows a revival of literary criticism. Sir Philip Sidney is considered one of Renaissance literary critics who have a great impact later on the Neo-classical critics. In his The Apology for Poetry, he claims that poetry “is an art of imitation” (223). For him, the poet imitates in order to teach and delight the readers. For Sidney, the main purpose of poetry is to achieve certain affect on an audience. The main Neo-classicist critics judge a literary work in terms of its effect on readers. Following Sir Philip Sidney, both: Boileau in his L’Art Poétique (1674) and Alexander Pope in his Essay on Criticism (1711) place a great deal of emphasis on pleasing the readers. In his An Essay on Dramatist Poesy (1668), John Dryden stands on the line of Aristotle saying that: “[poetry] is one thing to copy, and the other thing to imitate from nature.” Although Dryden is for the idea of using imitation but he suggests using it for one reason which is to affect the soul and excite the passions of the readers. After that comes Samuel Johnson another Neo-classicist critic who judges a literary work in terms of its effect on readers. Johnson moves from abstract to practical methods in pragmatic theories. In his Preface to the Plays of Shakespeare (1765), he insists on the importance of pleasing the audience. He says that if a poem fails to please readers it is, as a work of art, nothing. The emergence of romantic ideas started in Johnson’s age. In fact, the idea that a text should be explained in relation to its author comes at the beginning of the 19th century with the spread of the Romantic Movement.

Romantic critics placed the author at the centre of a literary work. This author-text relationship is explained by what is named the expressive theory. In Lyrical Ballads (1800), William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge claim that to discuss what poetry is means to discuss what a poet is. Wordsworth definition of poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings recollected in tranquility” is taken as the ground idea of expressive theories. In other words, he defines poetry as the product of poet’s feelings rather than the imitation of human actions, as Aristotle believes. In fact, Wordsworth states that:”a poem is inner made outer.” i.e. a poem expresses the author’s inner feelings and emotions and brings them to light. The 19th century French literary critic Sainte- Beuve gives a great importance to the extrinsic elements. He argues that there is an essential relation between a literary work and the life of the author. According to him, the literary work cannot be detached from the author’s life as he explains in an article about Chateaubriand:
La littérature, la production littéraire, n’est point pour moi distincte ou du moins séparable du reste de l’homme et de l’organisation; je puis goûter une œuvre, mais il m’est difficile de la juger indépendamment de la connaissance de l’homme même; et je dirais volontiers: tel arbre, tel fruit. L’étude littéraire me mène ainsi tout naturellement à l’étude morale.
In other words, it is indispensable for Sainte-Beuve to study a literary work without knowing the author’s moral traits of personality.

According to M.H Abrams, the fourth orientation of critical theories is “objective theories”. It treats a work as autonomous and it is seen as a complete and comprehensive entity. This theory concentrates on the intrinsic elements of a literary text. Objective theory proponents trace its origins to the central part of Aristotle’s Poetics where tragedy is regarded as an object in itself. Matthew Arnold, the Romantic critic, was considered the father of Modern criticism into the objective theory. In his seminal essay The Function of Criticism at the Present Time, he sought to replace the romantic focus on feelings with the renewed focus on ideas. Arnold’s accomplishments in the field of literary criticism were of great influence on modern critics like: T.S Eliot and F.R Leavis and on New Criticism as well.

After studying M.H Abrams’ article and having a deep analysis on the different literary theories throughout literary history, we have reached the following conclusion: in the history of literary theory, a theory comes to dethrone another one as the previous one proved to be unsatisfactory and neglecting some of the four elements i.e. universe, audience, author or text. So, we may say that there is no perfect literary theory as since each emerges to answer given needs and exigencies of a given period. Smile


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sabine

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Re: Some of my essays on literary theory

Post by sassy86 on Sat May 26, 2012 9:41 pm

You're welcome dear !!! Very nice indeed !!! I've just read the beginning and i'm printing it now, you know i'm crazy about literary criticism
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Re: Some of my essays on literary theory

Post by sabine on Sat May 26, 2012 9:45 pm

I know that you're crazy about it Sassy Very Happy This week, you'll receive my research file on feminist literary theory (I'll present it Tuesday).
Kind regards
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Re: Some of my essays on literary theory

Post by sassy86 on Sat May 26, 2012 9:47 pm

Oh GOSH !!!!!!!!!!!!! FEMINISM ?!!!!!!! Best luck dear !!!Can't wait to read it !! by the way, when will Mr Arab start teaching you, I think i'm coming to meet him because some told me that he needs me. Could you please tell me when i can find him, because i came last week and he wasn't there
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Re: Some of my essays on literary theory

Post by sassy86 on Sun May 27, 2012 9:01 pm

Have just received you email sweet Sabine Smile Gonna answer you tomorrow inchaAllah! Please post it on the forum after presenting it ! cause you've done such a good work and spent a long time working on it! Much love
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Re: Some of my essays on literary theory

Post by sassy86 on Mon May 28, 2012 5:19 pm

Hi again dear, I have just finished reading it and I must say it's a great work that you've done !! Proud of you !

Here's Virginia Woolf's essay "Professions for Women" I told you about, it was actually a speech she gave at a branch and it was later on published in many books.

http://s.spachman.tripod.com/Woolf/professions.htm
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Re: Some of my essays on literary theory

Post by mimi cici on Mon May 28, 2012 5:41 pm

wow wow wow ..a very nice job mates..you are encouraging cheating
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Re: Some of my essays on literary theory

Post by sassy86 on Mon May 28, 2012 6:09 pm

hahahah as I said earlier, this post would help some getting an idea about literary criticism and for those who want to cheat they must know that they would be CHEATING on THEMSELVES and they are free to do so Very Happy
(Koul wa7ad kbir o ya3raf sla7ou )

@Sabine: Let's carry the job baby, i'm waiting for your email, you still have time to correct what I told you about
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Re: Some of my essays on literary theory

Post by sassy86 on Mon May 28, 2012 6:26 pm

Hi again my sweet Sabine Smile Here's a small excerpt from my thesis in which I tried to explain briefly Virginia Woolf's view of literary criticism, but please try to have a look at the essay "Professions for Women"



Another prominent feminist critic is Virginia Woolf who considered that women writers are 'chained' to spread principles of the 'Angel in the House' and domesticity while elaborating a literary work. Woolf considered that it was vital for any woman writer to free herself from such constraints as she believed '[k]illing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer'. 11 For Woolf, freeing the woman writer from the 'phantoms'12 of the 'Angel in the House' and images of perfect domestic bliss would allow her to have 'a mind of [her] own' 13 as she explains: '[…] I acted in self-defense. Had I not killed her she would have killed me. She would have plucked the heart out of my writing'14. Woolf saw 'the Angel in the House' and images spread utopian domesticity as women's only social space, being cultural and social restrictions for a woman writer
15
.

The quotes are all taken from her essay "Professions for Women"
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