Literary Theories: A Case Study in Critical Performance


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Narratology is not usually seen as a poststructuralist critical approach. It is perceived as a structuralist enterprise, a phenomenon of the s, when systematic and scientific approaches to the analysis of narrative were still in fashion.


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Now, of course, the authority of scientific method is considerably diminished in criticism after two decades of assault from poststructuralist theory and renewed interest in politics and history. Narratology undoubtedly flourished in criticism which was committed to formalist close reading, which put aside sociological and historical questions in order to focus on the text itself, on the technical operations of a narrative.

Structuralist narratology developed an impressive terminology for the description of technique, analysing narratives in the way that a linguist would analyse a sentence; a rigorously analytical language sure to offend any critic still concerned with pre-critical issues like characters, literary value or emotional response. Within a literary context, psychoanalysis is that mode of criticism based on the insights of Sigmund Freud and on the reinter-pretation of those insights by Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, and a constellation of important lesser stars, too numerous to name.


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  7. This is not the place to embark on a full exposition of the principles of psychoanalytic theory: that has been done most efficiently elsewhere. A literary critic aims for a greater understanding of a written work: success for us is to see the text sparkling and new, like a familiar landscape viewed at an unaccustomed time of day, and transformed by the insight that a new point of view brings to it. It is not possible in the space which I have available to give a comprehensive account of the development of feminist literary theories and their practice.

    A feminist critic may choose to concentrate her or occasionally his attention on the formal or aesthetic qualities of a text; or she may make the political positioning of the text her central focus.

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    But the essay makes no claim that it represents the definitive feminist account of the story; indeed, such a claim would simply reinforce the proscriptive and authoritarian readings of some other forms of theory which feminist theories and practices seek to challenge. Dialectic was the term used by Marx and Engels to describe their theory of social change, which occurred, according to Marxist theory, as a result of class struggle.

    This conflict itself was a result of the social formations which emerged out of the forms of economic production prevalent in any given society. In the bourgeois phase — the nineteenth century about which Marx and Engels were writing — it was the capitalist mode of production which prevailed. According to this system, the means of production the factories, the land, the machines and so on were owned and controlled by one class the bourgeoisie , although that class depended on the labour of another class the proletariat to maintain production.

    However, the proletariat received very little of the profits of their labour, these instead being appropriated by the owners and ploughed back into the capitalist machine. One of the preferred methods of beginning a New Historicist reading is the depiction of a scene or piece of writing which yields a microcosmic image of what the critic seeks to elaborate in relation to the main text of discussion. You might think people would have listened by now.

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    Literary Theories: A Case Study in Critical Performance Literary Theories: A Case Study in Critical Performance
    Literary Theories: A Case Study in Critical Performance Literary Theories: A Case Study in Critical Performance
    Literary Theories: A Case Study in Critical Performance Literary Theories: A Case Study in Critical Performance
    Literary Theories: A Case Study in Critical Performance Literary Theories: A Case Study in Critical Performance
    Literary Theories: A Case Study in Critical Performance Literary Theories: A Case Study in Critical Performance
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