The Liberal Humanist Approach to Literature
(Detailed in Barry, pp. 11 – 37)
Liberal = not usual US political sphere meaning that might come to mind
Word suggests: “not politically committed” – where ‘politics’ means not party politics
“Politics” → an organization of society in which some people dictate and control what others do.
So, politics here – a world made up of hierarchical power structures that impact and control
everything around it. Individuals don’t live in a vacuum but in a ‘political system’ i.e., not just
‘democracy’ or ‘military state’ but a system charged with hierarchies where some people have
more power than others have.
Liberal means often ignoring that fundamentally political aspect of human existence and
approaching everyone as individuals – nothing more, nothing less.
Humanism = belief in human nature as something permanent, fixed, constant that great
literature expresses. Universal human nature → “relatable.” Interest in others’ experience
because we have something in common.
So Liberal Humanist approach does not care about the various social, personal, or linguis