Talk:Literary theory

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Needs criticism section[edit]

No criticism section? Poisonous BS that it is, you'd think there'd be some coverage in this article of criticism against literary theory. Fail! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 138.163.0.41 (talk) 17:53, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

I think the statement "the New Critic bases his work on an East-Coast American scholarly and religious tradition" is rather misleading. For one, many of the New Critics were Southerners (Ransom, Tate, Penn, etc.). Furthermore, I wouldn't be so quick to label all New Criticism as being based in any kind of "religious tradition." I'm fairly sure both Ransom and Penn made statements of agnosticism or something similar at one point; and althought some of the New Critics were religious, I don't think it's quite right to characterize the whole movement as having any single religious background. Corbmobile 11:18, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
This is just a first stab at a definition. I'm sure I've left out some schools and theorists worthy of mention. I'd also like to add some brief descriptions of each school, though perhaps those should be in separate entries (some of which no dobt already exist).
What about historical literary criticism? Coleridge was a literary critic, though I'm not so sure he'd be considered a literary theorist. -- Marj Tiefert, Thursday, May 2, 2002
Good point. I need to add in some historical stuff and trace it all the way back to Longinus's On the Sublime. That's the earliest example I ever hear referenced. And, you're right, there are lots of 19th century examples, too. It rose as a profession in the 20th century, but it was a serious gentleman's passtime in the 19th century. Should also eventualy add in its roots in biblical criticism/interpretation. --wheat, May 18, 2002

First paragraph parenthetical note[edit]

A source for the claim that Continental philosophy and literary theory are often considered nearly equivalent would be good. I'm not too knowledgeable in the field, but in the philosophy classes I've taken as an undergrad, I've never heard this claim made before. After all, Heidegger is a prototypical Continental philosopher, correct - and he didn't write much on literary theory as far as I know. Edonovan 01:17, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

Lit crit =/= Continental Philo, but Lit Crit draws heavily from Continental Philo enough that I've seen many media accounts confusing or conflating the two. Also inexplicably, of late, many lit crit types with strong Continental influences (e.g. Bhabha, Said, Spivak) have taken to calling themselves philosophers confusing matters further.
FYI, aside H wrote extensively on Holderlin's poetry, did an entire course on "Ister", his "Poetry, Language, Thought" examines the crucial importance of poetry and art to H and philosophy. His latter lectures in "Introduction to Metaphysics" are devoted to language examinations that would inspire Gadamer and Derrida. At least 1/4 of his corpus touches on poetry and literature and a good portion of his magnum opus - Being and Time is devoted to Hermeneutics. In short, you are wrong on that point, Heidegger may quite easily be considered, even if the main point about the unsourced claim is sensible enough. Guinness4life (talk) 03:49, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

I agree with the above. I have personally never heard of continental philosophy and literary theory being taken as synonymous. Are continental philosophers like Karl Jaspers, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Heidegger- who wrote very little about literature- to be considered "literary theorists?" --172.134.204.147 03:35, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

Five minutes of Googling turns up some published remarks on the point from scholarly journals, appended below. I am sure that anyone willing to look over introductory texts in literary theory (though I don't have time to do so now) will find many equivalent remarks. The point is not that the terms are synonymous in any strong or deeply meaningful sense, but that in many discussions they are used in roughly interchangeable senses. As the above commentators point out, there are good reasons not to think these terms completely synonymous (hence the separate articles explaining each topic in more detail). I think pointing this rough common-parlance equivalence out, as a question of usage, is a worthwhile gesture for the article to make -- particularly as it's intended for readers who are not (or not necessarily) deeply familiar with either field. -- Rbellin|Talk 04:30, 20 November 2005 (UTC)
Some citations on "literary theory" meaning, roughly, continental philosophy:
Literary theory has become increasingly and self-consciously philosophical. The philosophical content, however, has tended to be biased toward certain forms of Continental philosophy at the expense of analytic philosophy. Many students who first experience philosophy through literary theory are disappointed by what the find in philosophy departments. The philosophical turn in literary theory has led to a sense of crisis about the nature of the subject. [1]
The continental mode of philosophical discourse is predominant in Europe and increasingly prevalent in literary studies in the Anglo-American sphere. [2]
Could one say that a division in philosophy—akin if not precisely identical to the old one between "Anglo-American" and "Continental"—has been effected by the selective interdisciplinarity practiced in literary theory? A zone of contact exists, to be sure, between literary theory and a set of writers from Lévinas to Badiou. There is, however, seldom any contact between literary theorists and Rawls's critics, or with the work of Charles Taylor or Will Kymlicka. [3]

None of that justifies the claim that the two are synonymous; what it means is that literary theory draws heavily from continental philosophy. No one in a French or German university would make such a claim. Hanshans23

Goethean has just deleted this parenthetical note again from the article, calling it "wrong" in an edit comment. While I'm not too invested in maintaining the parenthesis against what appears to be a reasonably recurrent concern, I'd like to be sure that we are deleting it only for the right reason. As I said above, the point of a note like this in the lead paragraph is not that the terms literary theory and Continental philosophy are synonymous (in any kind of deep or rigorous way which academic insiders would defend), but that pointing out the overlap between the two in common parlance helps an uninformed reader. Again, it's fine with me if the consensus supports removing the parenthesis. But I am concerned that this question -- about the pedagogical utility of this remark to Wikipedia's ordinary reader -- be addressed, one way or the other, rather than removing the statement in order to defend disciplinary turf or advance an academic agenda. -- Rbellin|Talk 17:12, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

Here is the parenthetical note:

(In much casual academic discussion in the English-speaking world, the terms "literary theory" and "Continental philosophy" are roughly interchangeable, though there are clear distinctions between the two.)

I would ilke it to have the following form:

Although x and y are often conflated in casual discussion, x differs from y insofar as z.

goethean 17:29, 19 September 2006 (UTC)


On Confusion Over Parenthetical Statement[edit]

Okay? The parenthetic remark doesn't make any sense to me. "...the terms 'literary theory' and 'Continental philosophy' are mistakenly used interchangeably..." I've never heard of this either and would like some substantial evidence of its existence before the continuity of the claim as is. Even the one promoting the statement writes that "Five minutes of Googling turns up some published remarks on the point from scholarly journals, appended below..." then three remarks are quoted which fail to provide any example of literary criticism and continental philosophy mistakenly used interchangeably.

Here are bits of the professed evidence:


1. "Literary theory has become increasingly and self-consciously philosophical. The philosophical content, however, has tended to be biased toward certain forms of Continental philosophy at the expense of analytic philosophy."

How does this come close to reinforcing the erroneous claim that literary theory and continental philosophy are ever used interchangeably? An erroneous claim is still just as erroneous even within parentheses!


2. "The continental mode of philosophical discourse is predominant in Europe and increasingly prevalent in literary studies in the Anglo-American sphere."

Certainly there's truth to this statement, but saying that this statement means "...the terms 'literary theory' and 'Continental philosophy' are mistakenly used interchangeably..." that is far from truthful.


3. "Could one say that a division in philosophy—akin if not precisely identical to the old one between 'Anglo-American' and 'Continental'—has been effected by the selective interdisciplinarity practiced in literary theory? A zone of contact exists, to be sure, between literary theory and a set of writers from Lévinas to Badiou. There is, however, seldom any contact between literary theorists and Rawls's critics, or with the work of Charles Taylor or Will Kymlicka."

This excerpt, due to the amazing powers of the Google search-engine, merely has the word Continental and literary theory in it. It doesn't have anything to do with furthering the parenthesized claim at all, seriously. Read it. It's discussing the origins of a rift in philosophy being caused by the interdisciplinary nature of literary theory.


None of these citations have provided adequate reason for the statement to continue as is!

There needs to be further explanation for the parenthetical statement. Its presence is a complete mystery to me. If a significant reason can't be provided, I recommend the deletion of this empty statement that reads more like an opinion gone faulty.

66.63.67.133 10:47, 20 December 2006 (UTC)Michael Madore

hermeneutics[edit]


This looks like it will be a very useful article. Two questions: first, is hermeneutics one specific literary theory, or are all literary theories hermeneutical? Second, is it possible to define literary theory without putting "literature" in the predicate? Nod only does it sound tautological, it also raises the question of what we mean by "literature." I ask this because most people think of "literature" as fictional or creative writing, often for elite consumption. But many of these theories have been applied to all sorts of linguistic productions -- not only popular novels but myths, scientific and historical texts, as well as verbal utterances. I realize "literature" should be its own article, but I still think this article needs to define literature and explain the relationship between literary theory and literature on the one hand, and between literary theory and other things that at least some would not think of as literature, on the other. SR

Hermeneutics is usually counted as a specific theory. I don't know much about hermeneutics, so please jump in there and define it and/or list some relevant authors. I think the shortest definition we could make of literary criticism and/or literary theory is "the formal study of texts". Then we can explain that "text" often means "literary (i.e. 'high' art) texts" but that the same principles have been applied to non-fiction, pop fiction, film, historical documents, law, advertising, etc. In fact, in structuralism, you often find cultural events like fasion, football, riots, etc treated as 'texts'. So, yes, I'm with you on broadening this out. We could also note that a big part of post-structuralism is the idea of colapsing the usual distinctions between 'literary' and other sorts of texts, which the basic idea behind formalism is that literary texts are a special category/type of writing.
thanks for great input. I'm really looking forward to helping make this entry a solid one -- wheat, May 19, 2002
Well, you are welcome -- and thank you for your work. I am afraid I really do not have much to offer, as this is not my field; at best I am a dilettante here. E.g. hermeneutics: I know that the classic examples are Dilthey and Gadamer, but I haven't read either so I do not feel comfortable saying anything. But I like your modified definition and am taking the liberty of incorporating it into the article, SR
It's looking really good. I like that opening paragraph. I remember Habermas being important in Hermenutics, so I'll add him (and maybe read up on him a bit). I'm going to add in some examples of 19th century criticism and talk about the distinction between ethical schools (i.e. this work promotes/does not promote civility) and schools whose sole purpose seem to be ranking the text among other (i.e. "this is the best poem in the English language"). I'll try to hit it this weekend and make some real progress. Keep diving in there and tightening up the prose, it's helping. -- wheat
I do not think Habermas is a hermeneutician; he is a philosopher associated with the Frankfurt School and critical theory -- which I think is quite different from hermeneutics, SR
Agree. I've read H. If you can come up with a hermeneutics work he's done, list it, but I'm at a loss. He's mostly a political philosopher. See: Gadamer (and his ilk), Ricoeur, the perenially popular Derrida. Hermeneutics is usually out of a philosophy or theology department. Lit crit is out of a lit dep't. In practice, they differ a bit because of that (kind of like history of ideas and epistemology). On paper, they often look the same. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.68.20.21 (talk) 03:35, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Seems like I have seen him mentioned in connection with hermeneutics as well as with critical theory. I'll have to dig out a book I'm thinking of that might shed some light. I've been checking out some of the pages that the lit theory page links to now and there's work to be done there too (today I added a bit to a definition of deconstruction and added an entry on Derrida that someone else really expanded into something good). I'm actually reading an essay by Horace on the art of poetry. And some of the info from the preface could be worth including (like Plato's comments in book X of The Republic). Most all of my work with literary theory has been with post-1960s theorists, so it's fun to fill in some of the history of it--quite a learning experience for me.
Do you know what's going on in lit theory these days? When I finished grad school, New Historicism was still all the rage (and, really, my favorite approach). I'm curious to know what's going on these days (but too lazy to read PMLA).
Sorry, I have practically exhausted my knowledge -- I'd leave it to someone active in Cultural Studies, Comparative Literature, Modern Languages, or English to take it further SR
Habermas and Derrida are (were?) both fairly major influences on Dominick LaCapra. LaCapra wrote some interesting books re: examining intellectual history in a literary-critical way (Rethinking Intellectual History: Texts, Contexts, Language). --Trith 09:16, May 22, 2004 (UTC)
While I am on the subject, something about Hayden White (who I presume is one of the Johns Hopkins academics responsible for the expansion of literary theory from that university in the 1970s) might be useful as well. White's Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe was a fairly interesting piece on literary-critical consideration of historiography. --Trithemius 09:21, May 22, 2004 (UTC)

New weird?[edit]

I'm not familiar with New_Weird as a literary theory. Its page describes it as a literary movement, which in and of itself wouldn't warrant inclusion here. It seems to be more of an aesthetic preference by authors of literature than a theory used for interpretation of literature by critics. thither 04:01, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

New Criticism & Formalism[edit]

The article lists these separately, but they are synonymous. New Critics (the title is ironic now, but emerged as a response to Historical criticism) focus on the formal aspects of a text. I believe Formalism is more apt name to this approach, and should include some mention of New Criticism as a historical note. Pscisco 16:09, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Tense[edit]

Does anyone notice how in this list all the schools are written about in a present tense, except for both structuralism and semiotics? They are each written about in a past tense, which implies they are a thing of the past. But there are still prominent semioticians, such as Umberto Eco, so I have changed “examined” to “examine” to remove this connotation. I think that this gives a more accurate portrayal of semiotics, at least, and structuralism, at best. --Le vin blanc (talk) 23:58, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

Foucault in QT? WTF?[edit]

He passed away well before. And wouldn't occur to me as representative anyway. Monique Wittig, hmm? Also, I'm missing Neo Marxism (Marcuse, Althusser; dominant ideology etc) as a distinct school from original/old/pre-Stalin/pre-high-modernism Marxism, and I'd prefer Adorno (Horkheimer, et al) under "Critical Theory" (or "Frankfurt School", at least!?), not Marxsim. So they were Marxists, so what, who wasn't? -- their writing deviates enough (completely?) to merit...

Anyone?

-- Zin (talk) 00:20, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

Critical Theory is total wank?[edit]

Anyone? 90.205.92.52 (talk) 03:11, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

to paraphrase the hitchhikers guide: mostly wank.Mercurywoodrose (talk) 03:54, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

related stub article[edit]

Text (literary theory) is a stub article with very poor information. maybe it needs to be merged?Mercurywoodrose (talk) 03:54, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Question re: Category:Literary critics[edit]

I've posted a question on how to organize Category:Literary critics over at Wikipedia Talk:WikiProject Literature#Question re: Category:Literary critics. Please chime in. Thanks! Aristophanes68 (talk) 17:12, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

History of Literary Theory and Academic History of it[edit]

Was looking at the Yale Course on Literary Theory that includes philosophers like Derrida, Lacan, etc. And was trying to figure out what the hell literary theory is in relation to philosophy. This article doesn't really do a good job at explaining it besides giving a list of the different schools of thought. If the article gave more central drive describing the history of the movement (instead of just as a 'fad'), instead of just listing groups that were critical of the movement (maybe dividing it up so that groups like Lacan, Derrida, Deconstructionism, Feminist Literary Criticism etc. were given more emphasis) to improve readability and more describing the movement of Literary Theory in the 20th and 21st century. I'll maybe give this article more focus later, but I see potential for the article, but if someone more knowledgeable in the topic could help, it'd be much appreciated. Shaded0 (talk) 07:18, 12 May 2012 (UTC)