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ENG280 Critical Approaches to Literature Midterm Summary Study Notes

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University of Toronto St. George
Jenny Kerber

ENG280 – Critical Approaches to Literature – Midterm Summary Notes • Application of theories = criticism th th Philology (late 19 , early 20 C) • The practical – texts & their histories (es. Editorial histories & historical development) ○ Studied mostly prior to Arnold; historical rhetoric, textual & genetic crit • “historical linguistics” Orthography • No dictionary yet • Eligy – about death/mourning, lament about ○ Genre criticism  Source study/genetic crit  Historical/biographical approaches ○ Restoration literature; conventions & context Matthew Arnold • About higher, nobler things – leave room of imagination • “disinterestedness” – strive for objectivity • “best that is known & thought” – best ideas, learn/teach timeless truths After Arnold... (early 20 C, turn away from history/biography) Russian Formalism • Key ?: what makes a literary text literary/differentiates? • Establishing a scientific basis, read for form, not interested in wringing out moral • Across texts, search for general rules • Engage with text. Look @ work itself. Literary vs. ‘practical’ language. ○ Lit language function: defamiliarization; awareness T.S. Eliot • Poet & a critic; born in US, moved to Britain 1. Tied to tradition (passed down), also dynamic 2. Impersonality • Filtered into American New Cirt • Interesting relationship with “lemon-squeezer criticism” Cambridge School of English • Britain New Criticism • US; sprung from Arnold • More concerned with poet as catalyst of experience • Text {not context} ○ How language works within • Obsession with words & language; unity, self-contained, adequate, mature, etc. • Interested in language, the words themselves, different meanings (esp. ambiguous meanings) The Intentional Fallacy – Wimsatt & Beardsley • [poem] = independent object w/ self-contained meaning • If perceptive reader engaging w/ text can’t get meaning of words, poem = failure • Once written, poem is out in the world; the poem = the act • X intention • Internal (poem = public, discovered by reading) vs. external (private, idiosyncratic) evidence Reader-Response Criticism • Arises out of hermeneutics & phenomenology (philosophy of perception) • Text cannot be separated by what it does 1. Role of the reader can’t be omitted from crit 2. As readers, don’t passively consume text – actively make the meaning they find • Different readers may read same text differently • Text not just an object, reader-response key to creating the text Phenomenology of Reading – George Poulet • Affiliated with the Geneva School (concerned w/ how mental universe of author makes way into reader’s consciousness) • Phenomenology – concerned with cognition process when reading a text ○ Reality not so much fixed as a process • Process of read => mingling of minds [of writer & reader] ○ Communion between reader & writer, host to alien consciousness, on loan • Reciprocity – shared common consciousness that develops in process of reading Stanley Fish – Interpreting the Variorum • Applied reader-response to Milton; text as an experience ○ Influenced by prior experiences, bringing diff. prior knowledge ○ Look not @ what sentence says, but how it’s said • Argues interpretive cruxes aren’t meant to be solved • Notion of inter
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