The History Of Literary Criticism Cultural Studies Essay

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There is a history to literary criticism that goes back to when man started to write. The history is long and it has been part of we interpret of what is written or seen. The fact criticism exists is about man wanting to understand what a story is really trying to say and whether it is fact or fiction with meaning. Literature has played a significant role in many cultures and has had impacts on our values and morales as a community based on what has been written and interpreted be it through criticism or theory.

In the beginning there was classical and medieval criticism as far back a 4 BC and the best known critic was named Plato who focused on poetry. Whether correct or not his criticism is still respected today and used as a base of knowledge in relation to literary criticism.

It was later followed by Classical and Medieval criticism which focused on religion. During this period of time the literary criticism had a major effect on religious writing and traditions while having an effect on how they were studied. The most noted religions effected in their traditions were Jewish, Abrahamic, Christian and Islamic literature.

During the Renaissance period literary criticism focused on culture. During this period there was specific attention paid to the work of Aristotle's poems and literary works and remained in this manner until the the late part of the eighteenth century.

The nineteenth century criticism has been interpreted as the romantic period where the object of literature did not have to be beautiful, noble or perfect. This was the period of time where literary criticism was more about the critics themselves then the authors.


The New Criticism period came to be by Britain and America who dominated the studies and discussions on literature. This period called for very close reviews of what was written. It was close examination of the text which was above just generalizing. It was analytical and did not lean towards speculation. It was more specific about the intention of what was being said regardless of the author and their mental state of mind. It was all about paying attention to the words that were written and interpreting the same.

Around 1957 Northrup Frye published the "Anatomy of Criticism", ( resulting in a shift from criticism to the theory of writing based on ideology and had an effect on what was being taught which resulted in moving from political incorrectness to political correctness and this lasted until the late 1960's which at that time created an advanced approach to philosophical theories with respect to literature interpretation.

The current state of literary criticism permits many critics to use a number of methods and approaches in defining literature. be it literary theory or literary criticism the times have changed in regards to how critics interpret what is going on around them historically or in the present as there are options to choose from. The choices are varied from minority issues, cultural issues, natural sciences, religion, intellectual history, film and media studies and even comic books are but a few examples.


If we as compared Criticism and literary romanticism, literary Criticism is about on how it affects on what we read and see in books , poetry television etc, , while romanticism is one of the great movements of the XIX century that was born as a rebellion against the classicist norms


What has been shown is that literary criticism or literary theory has evolved from the beginning of literary presentations and has developed into a significant part of how the world works. It is believed by some that while having literary criticism has been good it has been used for evil. Nevertheless for the most part it has been for the betterment of mankind and plays a significant role in regards to the world we live in today



Romanticism is the greatest wave of XIX century. It was born as a rebellion against the classicist norms and previous artistic rules. (||wiki|Romanticism_in_literature) .

It is fascinated on natural phenomena, exotic themes of the East, the aim of free people,proud but lonely. Romantic art has more free lines and very great thematic wealth. Evalutes the colors as a means to express feelings and thoughts giving priority to the line of drawings.

History of Romanticism:

The first half of the nineteenth century records the triumph Romanticism in literature and of democracy in government and the two movements are so closely associated in so many nations and in so many periods of history that one must wonder if there be not some relation of cause and effect between them.

The age of Romanticism lies between the Declaration of Independence of USA(1776)and the English Reform Bill(1832).The period we are considering begins in the latter half of the reign of George III and ends with the accession of Victoria in 1837(http:|||early-nineteenth.html.)


Characteristic:Esecne of Romanticism was that during this period of literature reflected that everything was spontaneous and sicncere in nature and in people and these people be free to follow their own fancy.

Another characteristic of this period was positively link the stage of poetry and this is the best expressed in poetry of Scott,Wordsworth ,Byron ect..

During this time the woman for te the first time took an important place in English literature,perhaps the main reason for this interesting phenomenon lies in the fact that for the first woman were given few opportunities for edcation and to enter in the intelectual life.

Romantic movement was marked by strong reaction and protests against the rules and customs that in science,theology and literature that has always tended to block the free movement of people and romanticism was an expression of individual genius rather than to consequences of established by rules and customs.

In this period Spenser,Shakespeare and Milton were as inspiring to romanticism and is impossible to read a poem and not found suggestion of these major leaders


The glory of the age is in the poetry of Scott, Wordsprth,Byron, Coleridge, Shelly, Keats,Moore and Southey. Of its prose works, those of Scott alone have attained a very wide reading, thought the essays of Charles Lamb and the novels of Jane Austen have slowly won for their authors a secure place in the history of English literature.Folowing,we are going to say a few words about William Wordsworth.

He was born at Cockermouth,a town which is actually outside the Lake District, but well within hail of it.His father, who was a lawyer, died when William was thirteen years old.The elder Wordsworth left very little money,and that was mainly in the form of claim on Lord Lonsdale,who refused outright to pay his debt,so that William had to depend on the generosity of two uncles who paid for his schooling at Hawkshaed, near Lake Windermere.Wordsworth is sensitive as a barometer to every subtle change in the world about him.Of all the poets who have written of natyre there is none that compares with him in the truthfulness of his presentation. no other poet ever found such abound beauty in the common world.He had not only sight but insight,that is ,he not only sees clearly and descripes accurately,but penetrates to the heart of things and always finds some exquisite meaning that is no written on surface.It is idle to specify or to quote lines on flowers or stars on snow or vapor.It is the life of the nature which is everywhere recognized;not mere growth and cell changes,but sentient personal life and the recognized of this personality in nature characterises all the world's great poetry.


I think the main difference between romanticism period with other periods is that the period of romanticism for the first time women were given importance in general and was one of the main represntatives was Anna Radicliffe(1764-1832).

And find that the impression has left many in this period is that representatives of this era express high emotions during the writing of poems and essays give different and seperate matter in general beauty.


General Overview On The History of Literary Structuralism

Structuralism is a very interesting and powerful stuff to learn about it because has to do with Language how to speak well and how to act in different situations.

Definition of Literary Structuralism

Structuralism is very important in Literary Movements because it has to do with analyzing texts.

Structuralism establishes sentence structure in every text which makes it easier for the readers to understand the text.


History of structuralism becomes from Structural linguistics which is system of signs

So when I mention that system of signs I want to tell that the sings composed on two parts, a signifier (the sound pattern of a word, either in mental projection - as when we silently recite lines from a poem to ourselves - or in actual, physical realization as part of a speech act) and a signified (the concept or meaning of the word). This was quite different from previous approaches which focused on the relationship between words and things in the world that they designate.

Structuralism became part of academia as one of the most popular approaches dealing with the analysis of language, culture, and society.

It was very interesting that majority members of this movement like the work of Ferdinand De Suassure, who is considered to be a starting point of structuralism, Claude Levi-Strauss, Jacques Lacan, and Nicos Poulantzas, did not self-described as being a part of a movement like that.

Structuralism is similar to semiotics because post-structuralism tried to differentiate itself from the simple use of the structural method whereas the deconstruction was a try to break with the structuralistic thought. For instance, there were some intellectuals like Julia Kristeva who started with structuralism but later became post-structuralists.

Characteristics :

Structuralism asks about the deep structure of things, as opposed to causes or consequences. It has a number of characteristics about the structuralism

It is holistic. Parts of a system cannot be investigated in isolation. They can only be understood through their interaction with other parts. The meaning of an utterance depends on the language being spoken; the meaning of a gesture depends on the cultural context.

It prioritizes the invariant over the transient. The flux of actions is not important; rather, the underlying system is.

Structuralism opposes positivism. Positivists prefer to explain things in terms of observable entities. Structuralists work on the unobservable structure beneath the chaotic observable world.

Structuralists acknowledge the constraining nature of social structures. People's actions are constrained, whether they know it or not, by the structures which underlie them.

Words (or signifiers) do not point to things, but they point to concepts (signifieds). The sign signifies a concept, not an external reality. "Table" does not refer to a non-linguistic thing in the world, but rather has meaning because of where it appears in relation to other words. It makes sense to use it in certain places, and not others

All meaning depends on a structure which lies behind every sign. Langue vs. parole. Example: English is a language, but we never encounter "English" apart from specific utterances. There is grammar, and we know when it has been violated, but we never have direct access to the structure itself.

We are not concerned about the historical development of something (the "diachronic"), but rather with the set of references at any specific time (the "synchronic"). Example: the fashion system.

Signs are arbitrary. There is nothing inherent in the word "table" that necessitates that the word we use must be used.

Signs are not infinitely arbitrary. There are limits to the places we can use the word "table."

Comparison :

Comparing the structuralism in literary theory and literary criticism.Structuralism in literary theory is the approach to analyze the narrative material by investigating the original structure which system was used by Ferdinand de Saussure. The reason why it is easier for the experienced readers to understand a text of structuralism is because in structuralism there is a structure in every text, which means that everything that is written should have specific rules like a "grammar of literature. Structuralists like to focus more on the structures of the single text and even if they focus on the multiple texts the texts should unify themselves into a logical system. Structuralistic literary criticism argues that the "novelty value of a literary text" can be positioned only in new structure. For example, Freudianism, Marxism and transformational grammar, have both a deep and a surface structure. Then, Vladimir Propp and Claude Levi-Strauss seek out basic deep elements in stories, myths, anecdotes where those are combined and at the end produce the many versions of the ur-story or ur-myth.

Also, it is important to mention that some of the critics have tried to apply the theory to individual works, but the effort to find unique structures in individual literary works runs counter to the structuralist program and has a similarity with new criticism.


In today's world structuralism is not so popular as it is the post-structuralism and deconstruction for several reasons. First, structuralism is often criticized for being a historical and for favoring deterministic structural forces over the ability of individual people to act. Also, the ethnologist Robert Jaulin described another ethnological method which clearly pitted itself against structuralism. Moreover, it is because the deconstruction with the fundamental ambiguity of language became more popular than the logical structure. At the end of the century structuralism was considered as a historically important school of thought.



Feminism aimed to create legal rights and protections for women,and to describe the political movement ,cultural and economic

Feminism by Maggie Humm and Rebeca Walker divided into three waves. The first wave refers to the 19the century and early 20th century.The second wave refers to years 1960 and 1970 .The third wave included from 1990 to the present .

Feminist women have struggled women's rights were personal rights ,the right to vote, protection from domestic violence etc. "("



In history of feminism have contributed :Christine de Pizan ,Simone de Beauvoir who wrote "the first time we see a women take up her pen in defense of her sex"1 (http//,and others ,marie le jars de gournay,anne Bradstreet etc…



First wave

First wave aimed to property rights for women but in the 19th century it wos especially  concentrated in votes for women rights.At that time in 1980 wos adopted the right to vote on the age of 30 years .



Second  wave


The  second wave refers to the period of the years 1960-1980.The scholar Estele Freedman said that the second wave were the first wave continuousty,although the first wave wos the rights oj votes ,the second has to do with equality rights.


Third wave

The third wave refers to year 1990.this wave appeared against the second wave ,which according to them they refered  only white class.



Post feminist

post feminist says that feminism is not important for today's society. Feminist Susan Faludi in her book;" Backlash" the undeclared war against American women ..apposing second wave feminism ,as many problems lying constructed by media ,where this kind of response is also a historical trend where women wont to get equal rights.


Fench feminism-

Deffers from Aglopon feminism ,his writing are not focused on political doctrine ,bur generally the theory of body.In French feminism are encluded others that are not French but who have worked in France with French tradition such as Julia Kristeva and Bracha Ettinger .


THeoritical schools-

Includes different disciplines: Anthropology, sociology, economics, women's studies ,art history ,psychoanalysis, and philosophy.



Was the first author called the anarchist feminist .Anarcha writes articles patriarchy, she believed that war was against the war against patriarchy classes and praged against the state.


Socialist and Marxist-

Are mainly focused on the need to work together ,including other groups, prostitution, housework ,,childcare, see the system as required by patriarchal.



Consider man as oppressive to women ,over time have come some types of radical feminism as: cultural feminism , speartist feminism,and anti phonography feminism.




Liberals claim to equality of men and women ,and think that all women are able to achieve equality, they also include voting rights education etc ..


Post colonial feminism-

Thought that all these are problems such as gender inequality ,violence ,education not concerned with colonial experience especially racial and ethnic oppression.



Post structural-post modern-

Refers French feminism and ather theories including psychoanalysis ,linguistics political theory ,race .


Civil rights

Were not only the demand for rights to vote for education ,but they were also to hold public office at work ,have civil rights, parenting and religious.



Is an international law for women ,was adopted on 3 September 1981 .some countries opposed this as Iran Sudan Somalia ,Qatar Nauru ,and the us.




 Feminist theology is a movement that is based in the holy writings and the role of women in the middle of clergy and religious authorities .

Christian feminism trying to understand equality of men and women . (

Islamic feminism

Despite Criticism Islam has to do with full equality of all Muslims regardless of gender, they are based on the teaching of the  QURAN (saying of Muhammed )and SHARIA (law).


Pro feminist

Have to do with the support of the feminist movement ,feminists have pro activities related to work against violence in school ,pro feminist men are involved in education in schools as well as development of gander equality .


Anti -feminist

Is a contradiction of feminism and its forms.



Difference between structuralism and feminism is that structuralism is more concentrated in the structures of the text which means that it is written ,and most have particular rules. while feminism is concentrated mainly in the protection of women and their freedoms .




Definition:'' Formalism is a school of literary criticism and literary theory having mainly to do with structural purposes of a particular text''.



Formalism is a literary theory which critical another theories, and give literary devices.

Formalism also approach different texts like: historical, cultural, biographycal, etc.




Formalism rose in the early twentieth century.

In the beginning was centered on artist individual and leater on the text especially o types of written.


Rene Wellek and  Austin Warren were the most important formalist, because they created ''Theory of literature'' which usable in some important university in the world.


Two schools of formalism literary are well-known: Russian formalism and Anglo-American New Criticism.


Formalism was the most important in US in Second World War and was indebted to displaced by political arms.



The term ''formalism'' indicate something, that having to do with literary work and for that it could be separated from its origins.

 At nowadays maybe is necessary to comeback formalism because the text has need for it, to change the structure of a particular text.








Russian formalism was founded in 1916 at St.Petersburg by Boris Eichenbaum,Viktor Shklovsky and Yury Tynyanov.

Eichenbaum has written the essay called ''The theory of the formal method''. Essay of  Eichenbaum advocated formalists and their ideas  that said before.




                                    RUSSIAN FORMALISTS



Russian formalism was the best lesd of formalism.the best formalist were: Shklovsky,Tynyanov and Eichenbaum.

They contributed to understand the literary language because they do that communication to be easy everywhere.


Leon Trotsky was one of the most critiques of the formalism.

He said that artists and spectators are not just things, they are living people and they representing a large unity.



The leaders of Formalism suffered persecution in 1920 when Stalin came to power.But their ideas haven't died, they continued to influence yet at nowadays.

Especially ideas of Todorov, Barthes, Genette and  Jauss.