Literary Theory

Chicago Critics

In 1937, John Crowe Ransom claimed that if the fledgling movement “for the erection of intelligent standards of criticism” were to succeed, “the credit would probably belong to Professor Ronald S. Crane, of the University of Chicago, more than to… Read More ›

Bloomsbury Group

Desmond MacCarthy’s claim that there “is little in common between the work of Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf, Clive Bell, David Garnett, Roger Fry, Maynard Keynes, Leonard Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, E. M. Forster” (Memories 172) is a useful starting… Read More ›

Sociolinguistics

Sociolinguistics, or the study of language in relation to society, is a relative newcomer to the linguistic fold. It wasn’t until the early 1960s, largely as a result of William Labov’s work in America, and Peter Trudgill’s in Britain, that… Read More ›

Anthropological Criticism

There is no one clearly defined anthropological criticism, but anthropology, traditionally defined as “the study of man,” has made its impact felt in literary criticism in multiple ways through the twentieth century. The rise of comparative evolutionary anthropology in the… Read More ›

Archetypal Criticism

Archetypal theory and criticism, although often used synonymously with Myth theory and crticism, has a distinct history and process. The term “archetype” can be traced to Plato (arche, “original”; typos, “form”), but the concept gained currency in twentieth-century literary theory… Read More ›

New Historicism

In 1982 Stephen Greenblatt edited a special issue of Genre on Renaissance writing, and in his introduction to this volume he claimed that the articles he had solicited were engaged in a joint enterprise, namely, an effort to rethink the… Read More ›

Phenomenology

Phenomenology is a philosophy of experience. For phenomenology the ultimate source of all meaning and value is the lived experience of human beings. All philosophical systems, scientific theories, or aesthetic judgments have the status of abstractions from the ebb and… Read More ›

Stylistics

Treatises devoted to the study of style can be found as early as Demetrius’s On Style (C.E. 100). But most pre-twentieth-century discussions appear as secondary components of rhetorical and grammatical analyses or in general studies of literature and literary language…. Read More ›

Textual Criticism

Textual criticism provides the principles for the scholarly editing of the texts of the cultural heritage. In the Western world, the tradition and practice of collecting, tending, and preserving records was first instituted in the Hellenistic period. The great library… Read More ›

Value Theory

The study of value, called axiology, has three main branches: ethics, concerning the morally good; political theory, concerning the social good; and aesthetics, concerning the beautiful, or taste. One might perhaps add another branch, pragmatics, which concerns the utilitarian good… Read More ›

Russian Formalism

Russian Formalism, a movement of literary criticism and interpretation, emerged in Russia during the second decade of the twentieth century and remained active until about 1930. Members of what can be loosely referred to as the Formalist school emphasized first… Read More ›

Reception Theory

Reception theory, the approach to literature that concerns itself first and foremost with one or more readers’ actualization of the text, is based on a collective enterprise that has had far-reaching institutional consequences. Hans Robert Jauss, with his University of… Read More ›