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Texts and Contexts: Writing about Literature with Critical Theory

Texts and Contexts: Writing about Literature with Critical Theory Cover




Practices Questions 1. Read closely. You can assume that everything 1. What formal elements does this work is carefully calculated to contribute to the have? (Structure, imagery, diction, etc.) works unityfigures of speech, point of view, 2. How can these formal elements be diction, recurrent ideas or events, etc. arranged in opposing pairs or groups? 2. Find oppositions, tensions, ambiguities, and 3. What unifying idea holds these ironies in the work. opposing elements together? 3. Indicate how all these various elements are (Think in terms of an Although X, Y unifiedwhat idea holds them together? thesis sentence.) 1. Move through the text in slow motion, 1. What is your response to the text? describing the responses of an ideal reader 2. If the text were changed in some specific what is anticipated, what is experienced. way (a word, a phrase, a sentence, etc.), 2. Or, move through the text describing your how would your response change? own personal response. 3. Is your response personal and 3. Focus on how particular details shape idiosyncratic, or is it shaped by the text readers expectations and responses. and shared norms of interpretation? 1. Identify the oppositions in the text, and 1. What does the text most obviously determine which items are favored. seem to say? 2. Identify what appears to be central to the text, 2. How can the text be turned against and what appears to be marginal and excluded. itself, making it say also the opposite of 3. Reverse the texts hierarchy (the system of what it most obviously seems to say? favoring), opening up another (or an other) 3. How can something apparently reading; and/or argue that what appears to be marginal or trivial in the text be marginal is actually central. brought to the center of attention? 1. Research the authors life and relate that infor- 1. How can you connect the authors life to mation, cautiously, to the work. his or her writing? Are there common 2. Research the authors time (the political issues, events, concerns? history, economic history, intellectual history, 2. How can you connect the literary work etc.) and relate that information, to its historical context, including its cautiously, to the work. literary context? 3. Research how people reasoned during the 3. Is the author part of a dominant culture, authors lifetime, the patterns and limits in- or a colonial culture, or a postcolonial volved in making sense. Relate those logical culture, and how does that status affect strategies to the work. the work? 1. Apply a developmental concept to the work 1. What appears to be motivating the for example, the Oedipal complex, anal reten- author, or character, or even reader? tiveness, castration anxiety, gender confusion. 2. What other motivations, repressed or 2. Relate the work to psychologically significant disguised, might be at work? events in the authors life. 3. What developmental concepts might 3. Consider how repressed material may be help to explain this behavior? expressed in the works pattern of imagery or symbols. 1. Identify the qualities of gender, class, race, 1. How does this work advance or question sexual preference, religion, etc. of the author a particular political agenda? and/or characters: that is, say how individ 2. How would readers of different political uals are portrayed as members of some group. stances read this work differently? 2. Consider whether the text promotes or 3. How are the individuals in this work undermines stereotypes. portrayed as part of a group or class? 3. Imagine how the text might be read by a cer- tain type of reader; or how a text might have been neglected by a certain type of reader. Texts and Contexts Writing About Literature with Critical Theory Sixth Edition Steven Lynn University of South Carolina New York San Francisco Boston London Toronto Sydney Tokyo Singapore Madrid Mexico City Munich Paris Capetown Hong Kong Montreal For Annette and Anna Vice President and Editor-in-Chief: Joseph Terry Managing Editor: Erika Berg Development Editor: Barbara Santoro Executive Marketing Manager: Ann Stypuloski Production Manager: Douglas Bell Project Coordination, Text Design, and Electronic Page Makeup: WestWords, Inc. Cover Design Manager: John Callahan Cover Designer: Maria Ilardi Cover Art: Reality (1986) by Andre Rouillard (twentieth century/French). Acrylic on canvas. Copyright Andre Rouillard/SuperStock. Photo Research: WestWords, Inc. Manufacturing Buyer: Lucy Hebard Printer and Binder: R. R. Donnelley & Sons, Harrisonburg Cover Printer: Phoenix Color Corporation For permission to use copyrighted material, grateful acknowledgment is made to the copyright holders on pp. 283284 which are hereby made part of this copyright page. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Lynn, Steven, 1952 Texts and contexts : writing about literature with critical theory / Steven Lynn.4th ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and indexes. ISBN 0-321-20942-7 (pbk.) 1. English languageRhetoric. 2. LiteratureHistory and criticismTheory, etc. 3. CriticismAuthorship. 4. Academic writing. 5. College readers. I. Title. PE1479.C7L96 2005 808'.0668dc22 2004012984 Copyright 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Printed in the United States. Please visit our website at ISBN 0-321-20942-7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10DOH07 06 05 04 Contents Preface x 1 An Introduction, Theoretically 3 Textual Tours 3 Checking Some Baggage 4 Anything to Declare? 8 Recommended Further Reading 10 2 Critical Worlds: A Selective Tour 13 New Criticism 14 * Brendan Gill, from Here at The New Yorker 14 Reader-Response Criticism 17 Deconstructive Criticism 20 Historical Approaches 23 Psychological Criticism 28 Feminist Criticism 31 Other Approaches 33 Works Cited 34 Recommended Further Reading 34 3 Unifying the Work: New Criticism 37 The Purpose of New Criticism 37 Basic Principles Reflected 38 * Archibald MacLeish, Ars Poetica 38 Radicals in Tweed Jackets 42 How to Do New Criticism 46 The Writing Process: A Sample Essay 48 * Gwendolyn Brooks, The Mother 48 Preparing to Write 49 Shaping 51 Drafting 52 Practicing New Criticism 55 Lucille Clifton, forgiving my father 55 Stephen Shu-ning Liu, My Fathers Martial Art 56 Ben Jonson, On My First Son 61 The Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 1132, King James Version) xx Useful Terms xx Checklist xx UWorks Cited and Recommended Reading 58 58 4 Creating the Text: Reader-Response Criticism 61 The Purpose of Reader-Response Criticism 61 New Criticism as the Old Criticism 61 The Reader Emerges 62 Hypertextual Readers 66 How to Do Reader-Response Criticism 67 Preparing to Respond 67 * Sandra Cisneros, Love Poem #1 67 Making Sense 68 Subjective Response 70 Receptive Response 71 The Writing Process: A Sample Essay 76 Preparing to Respond 76 * Ernest Hemingway, A Very Short Story 76 Preparing to Write 81 Shaping 84 Drafting 85 Practicing Reader-Response Criticism 88 Michael Drayton, Since Theres No Help 88 Judith Minty, Killing the Bear 89 Caroline Fraser, All Bears xx Emily Dickinson, Through the Dark Sod xx Useful Terms xx Works Cited and 94 Recommended xx Further Reading 95 5 Opening Up the Text: Deconstructive Criticism 97 The Purpose of Deconstruction 97 How to Do Deconstruction 106 * William Butler Yeats, Sailing to Byzantium 107 The Writing Process: A Sample Essay 113 * Amy Clampitt, Discovery 113 Preparing to Write 114 Shaping 119 Drafting 122 Practicing Deconstructive Criticism 127 * Continuing Education, Cut Through the Anxiety... 127 * William Blake, London 128 Linda Pastan, Ethics 8xx John Donne, Death Be Not Proud xx Useful Terms xx Checklist xx Works Cited 130 and Recommended Further Reading 130 6 Connecting the Text: Historical Criticism 133 The Purposes of Biographical, Historical, Postcolonial, Ethnic, Marxist, and Cultural Studies 133 Biographical and Historical Criticism 134 * John Milton, When I Consider How My Light Is Spent 134 Cultural Studies 138 New Historicism 141 History as Text 143 Marxist Criticism 145 Postcolonial Studies 148 How to Do Historical, Postcolonial, and Cultural Studies 152 The Writing Process: Sample Essays 156 * John Cheever, Reunion 156 A Biographical Essay 159 Preparing to Write 159 Shaping 165 Drafting 167 A New Historical Essay 171 Preparing to Write 171 Shaping 172 Drafting 174 Practicing Historical, Postcolonial, and Cultural Studies 178 * Rowland Wilson, Cartoon 178 * Stan Hunt, Cartoon 179 WUseful Terms xx Checklist xx Works Cited and 180 Recommended Further Reading 180 7 Minding the Work: Psychological Criticism 183 The Purpose of Psychological Criticism 183 How to Do Psychological Criticism 189 * William Wordsworth, A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal 190 The Writing Process: A Sample Essay 193 * William Shakespeare, from Hamlet 194 Preparing to Write 195 Shaping 199 Drafting 201 Practicing Psychological Criticism 205 * Emily Dickinson, A Narrow Fellow in the Grass 207 * Marianne Moore, O to Be a Dragon 207 Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach xx Your Dream Here xx WUseful Terms xx Checklist xx Works Cited 208 and Recommended Further Reading 208 8 Gendering the Text: Feminist Criticism, Post-Feminism, and Queer Theory 211 The Purposes of Feminist Criticism, Post-Feminism, and Queer Theory 211 How to Do Feminist Criticism, Post-Feminism, and Queer Theory 218 * Mary Astell, from A Serious Proposal 221 The Writing Process: A Sample Essay 227 * Samuel Johnson, To Miss _____ On Her Playing upon the Harpsichord... 228 Preparing to Respond 229 Shaping 232 Drafting 234 Revision: Gay and Lesbian Criticism 237 Practicing Feminist, Post-Feminist and Queer Theory Criticism 239 * William Shakespeare, Shall I Compare Thee... 239 * Emily Dickinson, My Life had stood... 240 Tobias Wolff, Say Yes xx * Gender in the Movies xx 241 Useful Terms xx Checklist xx Works Cited 241 Recommended Further Reading 242 9 Investigating the Work: Research and Documentation 245 The Purposes of Research Papers 246 The Topic and the Task 247 Finding and Using Resources 252 Background Sources 254 Bibliographies and Indexes 255 Searching Online 257 Securing Resources, Taking Notes, and Finding a Thesis 258 Drafting and Revising 263 The Writing Process: A Sample Research Paper 267 Getting Ideas 267 Organizing 273 Drafting 274 Works Cited 279 Recommended Further Readings 279 Appendix 1: John Donne, The Canonization 281 Appendix 2: How Theories Relate xx Credits 283 Index 285 Preface As teachers, we need to remember what the world looked like before we learned our disciplines way of seeing it. We need to show our students the patient and painstaking processes by which we achieved expertise. Only by making our footsteps visible can we expect students to follow in them. Sam Wineburg, Professor, Stanford University The Chronicle of Higher Education (4/11/03), B20 The aim of this sixth edition is the same as the first: to show students as clearly as possible how to think of interesting things to say about literary texts, and how to organize these insights and observations into effective arguments and responses. This book aspires, in other words, to convey at an introductory level the assumptions, strategies, and questions available in the practice of critical analysis. There are many fine overviews of critical theory and literary theory, of literature and writing about it, and youll find a good sampling of them recommended as you go along here. But I do not think that there is another book so thoroughly committed to showing students, at an introductory level, step-by-step, how to use different critical strategies to write about literature. Literature offers all of us a lifetime of fascinating, enriching, mind-expanding experience. Writing about literature enlarges and clarifies that experience. Writing-about-literature classes ought to be challenging and stimulating, but in the final analysis quite satisfying. Thats my goal: to help enlightened teachers guide their students to the joys of reading and writing about literature. My strategy involves invigorating literary study by making our footsteps visible, as Sam Wineburg puts it aboveby considering explicitly what good readers know and assume and how they behave in their engagements with literary texts. And this edition continues to update the exciting variety of ways that literary study continues to evolve. Critical theories are the invention strategies that drive the process of writing about texts. Such theories are not too difficult for students who are just learning how to write and think about challenging literary texts; writing about literature is in fact unnecessarily difficult and frustrating without a clear understanding of theory. And since every discipline depends on various assumptions about language, meaning, and knowledge; and every discipline involves reading and writing, interpreting data, and constructing arguments, then critical theory and literary study are vitally important. Every educated person can and should understand the fundamentals involved. Organization The first two chapters prepare students for the in-depth tour of the world of critical theory in Chapters 3 through 8. The first chapter addresses some fundamental questions: Is there one correct interpretation of a literary work? Are all opinions equally valid? Does theory distract from literary study? Is theory too difficult for an introductory-level course? The answers to these deceptively simple questions underscore both the necessity and the feasibility of working with theory in introductory courses. The second chapter then offers a survey of the theories covered here, illustrating a variety of approaches by explaining how each one might be applied to the same text. Each particular theoretical orientation is in a sense like a different place, a different culture that inhabits its own set of values and practices. The maps at the beginnings of these chapters are intended as playful reminders of this insight: each theory involves a different way of seeing. The first section in each chapter is an orientation: the basic principles of a particular theoretical orientation are elicited out of the analysis of a poem. In The Purpose of New Criticism, for instance, which is the first part of Chapter 3, an analysis of an Archibald MacLeish poem reveals the assumptions of what is called New Criticism. The second section of each theory chapter explains the process of applying these assumptions. In Chapter 3 for example, the section entitled How to Do New Criticism takes students step by step through the process of doing a New Critical reading. The third section of these chapters illustrates the construction of an essay, from start to finish, using that chapters theory. The sample essay in Chapter 3 traces the evolution of an essay on Gwendolyn Brookss masterful poem, The Mother. The fourth and final section provides some literary works to practice uponworks that will resonate in some way with the other works in the chapters. In Practicing New Criticism, for instance, two poems about fatherhood are offered, balancing in several senses Brookss The Mother. The tour of each theory ends with a list of the Works Cited in the chapter, and recommendations for Further Reading. After this theoretical tour, a final chapter offers some brief guidance on research and documentation. Whats New in This Edition? I still have not been able to include a GPS system to help students find their classrooms, as one user suggested, but I have benefited from many other suggestions by both students and teachers. It is a great luxury to be able to reconsider ones prose, tightening that sentence, adding an example here, clarifying that obscurity. To have the opportunity to revise at least six times, counting my first draftwell, its a mostly wonderful feeling, and Ive tried very hard to make stylistic improvements throughout, large and small, without messing anything up. I have also tried to update the various approaches when I think useful or important advancements have been made. Like any human endeavor, literary criticism is dynamic, and so the additions, deletions, and alterations are also an attempt to reflect the evolution of the field. In particular: * Film and other genres get more attention in this edition. By using films to illustrate concepts and strategies, I am underscoring the assertion that critical theories can be usefully applied to just about anything. I am also reflecting the growing interest in film as an academic field. Given the porous boundaries of literary study, films and other genres are increasingly being included in literature courses. * More practice texts with guiding questions have been included here. At the end of every theory chapter, youll now find four sample texts or projects. For the literary texts, Ive also provided guiding questions. Although one could argue that any approach can be used with any text, in reality some texts do seem to respond more readily to some approaches than others. So the practice texts that are provided here have been tested in the classroom and should give you a bit more confidence before you dash out into the world and apply your theories willy-nilly. Still, no matter how much practice you have, using a critical theory to generate ideas and shape your argument will require some patience, energy, and imagination. A theory, as I say, is an invention strategya useful toolbut it isnt a magic wand. Practice, practice, practice will improve your ability to analyze and make your case. * Expansions, elaborations, additions, deletions: Youll find articulated a connection between the study of rhetoric and reader-response criticism. Youll find a richer treatment of Marxism and its relationship to (and distance from) Marxist criticism. Youll find updated sources and recommended readings for postcolonialism, queer theory, feminist theory, African-American studies, and more. Sources that have been superseded or seem dated have been removed. Useful terms and checklists: At the end of every theory chapter, youll find a list of terms, with definitions, that are especially relevant for that approach. This list can serve as a kind of review for the chapter as well as a handy resource. You will also find a simple three-step how-to checklist for that particular theory. After working your way through the chapter, I think it may be helpful to have a satellite-view reminder of where youve been. A stream-lined overview of research strategies now appears in the final chapter. If anyone misses the step-by-step explanation of how to write a research paper, just let me know and Ill be happy to email that chapter from the previous edition to you. (My email address is available on the Department of English website for the University of South Carolina.) The research chapter has long been the least-favorite among my many excellent reviewers, and it finally occurred to me that this material is probably tedious and unnecessary. You can see how to put together a Works Cited page by looking at any of my Works Cited pages. So this chapter talks instead about the purposes and strategies of research. A new appendix, discussing how various critical theories relate to each other. What distinguishes one theory from another? Do different theories have common goals, or are they trying to do different things? A new Instructors Manual includes discussion of the additional practice texts and directions to some additional cartoons and jokes. Acknowledgments To those people who have adopted a previous edition, I am very grateful. Many people have made helpful suggestions, sometimes when I was walking across campus or losing golf balls, and their names may not appear in the list below. In that case, Im sorry. Im especially indebted to Bill Rivers, Ed Madden, and Lee Bauknight, my fellow teacher-trainers, and to all the graduate students who have taken English 701B with me, and who have helped to establish that this pedagogy works. I also want to thank the following reviewers, who have made useful suggestions for this or previous editions: Patricia Angley, University of Central Florida; M. Bracher, Kent State University; Suzanne Bunkers, Minnesota State University; Bryon Lee Grigsby, Centenary College; Catherine Lewis, Louisiana State University; Judith K. Moore, University of Alaska; Warren Moore, Ball State University; B. Orton, Truman State University; Sally Bishop Shigley, Weber State University, Jack Fisher Solomon, California State University Northridge; Don Ulin, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. I celebrate the existence of Erika Berg, who helped me develop this book; Lisa Saxon, my former assistant and departmental budget manager; Latasha Middleton, my current assistant; Pang Li, my research assistant; Vivian Garcia, my current editor; and Joseph Terry, Pearsons Editor-in-chief. My brothers and sisters, congenital and acquired, have provided comfort, counsel, and comic relief at various opportune moments. Gregory Jay and David Miller got me interested in critical theory, and I appreciate their patience so long ago. Karl Beason, Todd Stebbins, and Ken Autry helped me develop these ideas as we worked with Advanced Placement high school teachers. I gratefully acknowledge the support of Dean Mary Anne Fitzpatrick and the University of South Carolina. Im most thankful for my parents, Ben and Leora Lynn; for my parents-in-law, Chester and Dorothy Williams; and for my wife and daughter, Annette and Anna, to whom this book is dedicated. Steven Lynn Columbia, SC October 2009

Product Details

Writing About Literature with Critical Theory
Lynn, Steven J.
Lynn, Steve
Lynn, Steven
Lynn, Steven Jay
Composition & Creative Writing - General
English language
College readers
Composition & Creative Writing - Academic
Composition & Creative Writing
Criticism -- Authorship.
English language -- Rhetoric.
Edition Number:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
October 2007
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
8.25x6.46x.66 in. .79 lbs.

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Texts and Contexts: Writing about Literature with Critical Theory
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Product details 320 pages Longman Publishing Group - English 9780321449078 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,

 Texts and Contexts:  Writing about Literature presents a user-friendly introduction to contemporary critical theories—from new criticism to cultural studies—as part of the practice of analyzing and writing about literature.  Some of the changes to the new edition include enhanced coverage of film and other genres reflecting the growing interest in film as an academic field and engaging students.  New sample texts and projects, all classroom-tested, appear at the end of every theory chapter, along with guiding questions to offer more practice for students in applying critical theory to literary texts.  There is more on current approaches to literature, including the relationship between rhetoric and reader-response criticism, Marxism, postcolonialism, queer theory, feminist theory, and African-American studies.

"Synopsis" by ,

This book helps students analyze and write about literature through the introduction of contemporary critical theories.  Step-by-step applications of a particular theory give clear, practical examples of what other texts only cover in the abstract.  A wealth of writing strategies, examples, and practice materials enable students to understand the assumptions underlying these theories.

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