Essay on The Importance of Distinction in Literary Theory and Criticism

Essay on The Importance of Distinction in Literary Theory and Criticism

Length: 1353 words (3.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

It has been said,
From the hour of the invention of printing, books, and not kings, were to rule the world. Weapons forged in the mind, keen-edged, and brighter than a sunbeam, were to supplant the sword and battle-axe. Books! lighthouses built on the sea of time! Books! by whose sorcery the whole pageantry of the world's history moves in solemn procession before our eyes. From their pages great souls look down in all their grandeur, undimmed by the faults and follies of earthly existence, consecrated by time (Whipple 386).
This particular description on the importance of books, fantastic as it is, can also easily be applied to the broader spectrum that books belong to, literature. Thus, it is easy to understand why such emphasis is placed on the “exegesis, interpretation, and evaluation, [of literature]” otherwise called literary criticism and/or theory (Groden , Kreiswirth and Szeman). The boundaries between the two, criticism and theory, blur according to Groden et al, however the boundary between their approaches is much more distinguishable. New Criticism and Marxist theory are examples of two different approaches to literary criticism. Both approaches share the same objective, in that they look to better understand literature, but their paths diverge on how exactly they go about this. It is the disparity between the ‘how’s’ that is so crucial to point out in literary criticism and if it is not made the entire subject becomes unorganized and much less effective. A perfect representative of this disparity can be seen with a comparison of the New Criticism and Marxist theories. A thorough understanding of the differences, similarities, strengths and weaknesses of the two approaches allows anyone studying literary criticism to...


... middle of paper ...


...pproaches and consequently literary criticism as a whole.










Works Cited
Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction To Literary And Cultural Theory Third Edition. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009.
Groden , Michael, Martin Kreiswirth and Imre Szeman. "The Johns Hopkins Guide To Literary Theory And Criticism." 2005. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Website. 24 March 2012. .
Lisman, C. David. "Marxist Literary Theory: A Critique." Journal of Aesthetic Education (1988): 73-85.
Spurgin, Tim. "Contemporary Critical Theory." 3 October 1997. Lawrence University. Website. 27 March 2012.
Wellek, Rene. "The New Criticism: Pro and Contra." Critical Inquiry (1978): 611-624.
Whipple, Edwin Percy. Gilbert, Josiah Hotchkiss. Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers. New York: W.B. Ketcham, 1895. 386.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Philosophical Aspects of Literary Objectiveness

- Philosophical Aspects of Literary Objectiveness ABSTRACT: Gadamer’s hermeneutic philosophy avoids the problem of literary objectiveness altogether. His approach witnesses the general fact that an indifference towards literary objectiveness in particular, leads to a peculiar neglect of par excellence literariness as such. It seems obvious, however, that the constitutive aspects of the crisis of literary objectiveness cannot be shown to contain the underlying intention of bringing about this situation....   [tags: Philosophy Philosophical Papers]

Free Essays
3384 words (9.7 pages)

Essay about Can Empathy Be Improved Through Literary Fiction?

- Can Empathy Be Improved Through Literary Fiction. Reading is an important tool in language development in children. As they grow older and reach secondary school it evolves into looking deeper into the themes and motifs of the narratives studied. This maturation of concepts helps individuals identify complex ideas and possibly aid in developing empathy. According to Scientific American’s article Novel Finding: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy (2013), researchers have found evidence that suggests that reading literary fiction may improve a reader’s ability to grasp what others think or feel....   [tags: Literature, Fiction, Better, Genre]

Strong Essays
936 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on The Function of Literary Criticism

- Literary criticism is a hard study to grasp because of the numerous explanations that must make sense for the critic’s view to be comprehensible to readers. Understanding the role of the critic is vital. The critic is second most important aspect, next to the author and the work itself. In this course, we have read many critics, that all have valid points. The critic’s prospective is the second most important element of literary criticism, next to the author and the work itself. In this course, we have read many critics’ opinions who all have valid points....   [tags: Literary Criticism]

Strong Essays
1694 words (4.8 pages)

Essay about Grendel : Literary Criticism

- Bailey Heffernon Mr. Strack Grendel Literary Criticism Essay 20 November 2017 Throughout John Gardner’s Grendel, the audience bears witness to a creature who has been ostracized by the world around him. Throughout his journey, the stories protagonist tries to live out his own life the way he wants to, despite being labeled as evil by those around him. Due to this constant criticism by his peers, he develops an inferiority complex that he desperately tries to make up for as the story progresses....   [tags: Existentialism, Literary criticism, Literature]

Strong Essays
1611 words (4.6 pages)

Imagination and Literature Essay

- Imagination and Literature      The importance and influence of imagination on the creation and critique of literature varies between and within various artistic eras. Originally seen as an aberrant function of the mind, imagination was subservient to the powers of reason and order. Art involved mere replication of the real, a craft rather than an unique act of creation. Beginning as early as Aristotle, however,  human imagination has been linked to the power and value of art. The ascendancy and, in some eras even superiority, of imagination as a potent mental faculty gave birth to new critical enterprises bent on articulating the manner, motivation, and merit embedded in art and the arti...   [tags: Literature Essays Literary Criticism]

Strong Essays
1849 words (5.3 pages)

Feminist Literary Criticism and Lysistrata Essay

- Classically, women playwrights are almost completely absent. There were virtually no women writers at all up until at least the seventeenth century. This fact originally led feminist critics to disregard the classical period. In an article titled “Classical Drag: The Greek Creation of Female Parts,” Sue Ellen Case states that because “traditional scholarship has focused on evidence related to written texts, the absence of women playwrights became central to early feminist investigations” (132). Despite this absence of female writers, feminist critics analyze the role of women in ancient Greece in other ways....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Women Characters]

Strong Essays
1838 words (5.3 pages)

Marxist Literary Criticism Essay

-   While literary critics do attempt to elaborate or develop ideas articulated by Karl Marx, it is important and necessary to make a distinction between Marx's specific socio-economic and political agenda and the body of literary theory which emerged years later. Marxist literary criticism proceeds from the fundamental philosophical assumption that "consciousness can never be anything else than conscious existence...Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life" (Marx 568-9)....   [tags: Literature Essays Literary Criticism]

Strong Essays
460 words (1.3 pages)

Essay on Biblical Literary Criticism: Higher Criticism

- INTRODUCTION “Biblical criticism” refers to various methods of studying and investigating the textual content of the Bible. In general, it just describes examining the Bible in a scholarly and critical manner. Therefore when the term “critic” or “criticism” is used in this way it does not essentially denote something negative, but rather a close consideration of the authenticity and historicity of the Biblical text. These literary critics also look into the origins and purposes of the books of the Bible....   [tags: Scripture Analysis, Lower Criticism]

Strong Essays
1315 words (3.8 pages)

Literature - Postmodern Literary Criticism Essay

- Postmodern Literary Criticism   Postmodernism attempts to call into question or challenge the notion of a single absolute unified master narrative without simply replacing it with another. It is a paradoxical, recursive, and problematic method of critique.   It encourages transcendence through or in spite of limitation, while simultaneously decentering the concept of absolute transcendence. To this end, it encourages the development of a heightened sense of self in relation to itself and the world around it....   [tags: Literature Essays Literary Criticism]

Free Essays
1064 words (3 pages)

Pragmatic Literary Criticism Essay

- Pragmatic Literary Criticism        Pragmatic criticism is concerned, first and foremost, with the ethical impact any literary text has upon an audience. Regardless of art's other merits or failings, the primary responsibility or function of art is social in nature. Assessing, fulfilling, and shaping the needs, wants, and desires of an audience should be the first task of an artist. Art does not exist in isolation; it is a potent tool for individual as well as communal change. Though pragmatic critics believe that art houses the potential for massive societal transformation, art is conspicuously ambivalent in its ability to promote good or evil....   [tags: Literature Essays Literary Criticism]

Free Essays
792 words (2.3 pages)