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Roland Barthes’ Analysis of Balzac’s Sarrasine

Barthes’ analysis of Balzac’s Sarassin in S/Z (1970) has led to some major development in poststructuralist theory. Barthes identifies two main types of literature, roughly corresponding to the 19th century realist novel and the twentieth century experimental modernist novel. Traditionally, the realist… Read More ›

Linguistic Sign

Announcing a revolutionary change in the study of language, which had been hitherto philological, Saussure with his Course in General Linguistics (1916), introduced Structural Linguistics, which considers language as a system of signs constructed by cultural conventions. Constituting of a… Read More ›

Connotation and Denotation

Connotation and Denotation are crucial concepts in Semiotics, Structuralism, Marxism, Cultural Studies and in the entire realm of literary and cultural theory. Denotation refers to the primary signification or reference – the definitional, literal, obvious meaning of a sign. In… Read More ›

The American New Critics

American New Criticism, emerging in the 1920s and especially dominant in the 1940s and 1950s, is equivalent to the establishing of the new professional criticism in the emerging discipline of ‘English’ in British higher education during the inter-war period. As always, origins and… Read More ›

Defamiliarization

The Russian Formalists’ concept of “Defamiliarization”, proposed by Viktor Shklovsky in his Art as Technique, refers to the literary device whereby language is used in such a way that ordinary and familiar objects are made to look different. It is… Read More ›

Intentional Fallacy

One of the critical concepts of New Criticism, “Intentional Fallacy” was formulated by Wimsatt and Beardsley in an essay in The Verbal Icon (1946) as the mistake of attempting to understand the author’s intentions when interpreting a literary work. Claiming… Read More ›

New Criticism: An Essay

New Critics attempted to systematize the study of literature, and develop an approach that was centred on the rigorous study of the text itself. Thus it was distinctively formalist in character, focusing on the textual aspects of the text such as rhythm, metre, imagery and metaphor, by the method of close reading, as against reading that on the basis of external evidences such as the history, author’s biography or the socio-political/cultural conditions of the text’s production. Although the New Critics were against Coleridge’s Impressionistic Criticism, they seem to have inherited his concept of the poem as a unified organic whole which reconciles its internal conflicts and achieves a fine balance.