Change the Lens, Change the Meaning

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Transcript Change the Lens, Change the Meaning

Change the Lens, Change
the Meaning
An examination of Critical Theory
What is Literary Theory??
Literary theory is a form of literary criticism
in which particular academic, scientific, or
philosophical approaches are followed while
analyzing literary texts.
Literary Theory is…
An examination of literature through different
lenses.
It is the idea of examining literature through
different subjects or through specific strands.
In Literary Critical Theory
There are many different strands and disciplines one can examine literature
from. It is important to note, that there is never one right answer (unless the
author him/herself says so). Any thesis that can be proven through the
literature is fair game.
But how does one actually use it?
A reader can use critical theory to examine
literature as a whole
OR
To examine character’s motivation or
actions. In essence why does this character do
the things he/she does? What are his/her
motives and goals?
Some literary theories include:
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Feminist Theory (#girlpower)
Psychoanalytic Theory (#craycray)
Queer Theory (#it’sOKtobeYOU)
Marxist Theory (#capitalismsucks)
New Historicism (#historyrepeatsitself)
Moral Philosophy (#goodvsevil)
Feminist Theory
• Feminist theory promotes female identity and
argues for women’s rights
• It emphasizes the themes of gender relations
• Concentrates its attentions upon the
experiences of women
• Feminist theory rejects male-biased, patriarchal
notions
So, if I ask you to apply feminist
criticism…
• Examine the patterns of thought and behavior in
male-female relationships.
• Seek to identify values put forth about men and
women’s roles.
• Look at the role of power in relations between
the sexes.
“Araby” and Feminist Theory
• Patriarchal society in “Araby” is evidenced
by narrator’s home life
• The Uncle makes decisions and controls the
finances
• Uncle does not need to explain why he
arrives home late
Homemaker, Gossip, Sexual Object
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These are the roles of women in “Araby”
The Aunt is a homemaker
Mrs. Mercer (an old garrulous woman) is a gossip
Mangan’s sister and the young, British woman at Araby
are sexual objects
They are not even named
Mangan’s sister is referred to by her kinship to a male
There is definitely a lack of consideration given to the
feminist in the world of “Araby”
Feminist Theory in “Araby” Cont’d
• The narrator associates his infatuation with
Mangan’s sister with idolatry.
• He objectifies her, and this degree of
worship dictates all his thoughts and actions
• Although, she is not important enough to be
named, she occupies the boy’s mind, and in
the end, she is responsible for shaping who
he becomes
Thesis using Feminist Theory
If I were to write a paper about “Araby” using a
feminist lens, I could argue:
In his short fiction, “Araby”, James Joyce severely
understates the importance of his female
characters , but it is through female intervention
that the narrator is able to alter his somewhat
naïve perception of reality.
Practice Feminist Theory with Cinderella
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Get into groups
Recall the story
Look at it with a feminist lens
Develop a thesis
Outline your arguement
Be ready to share
Homework:
• Do further research on feminist theory and
how to apply it
• Take notes
• In future classes (in this course), you will be
asked to apply this theory to a piece of
literature using only your notes and the
literature being analyzed
• This will be assessed
Psychoanalysis
Is a set of multiple psychological and
psychotherapeutic theories, originating with
Freud.
Freud, Skinner, Jung Oh My!
Sigmund Freud is considered the father of psychology and
psychoanalysis.
Main theories include:
• Oedipus complex
• Structural elements of the mind:
The id (instinctual sexual desires situated here),
The super-ego (the conscience, control mechanisms)
The ego (conscious self created by the interactions and
tensions between the id and super-ego
• Theory of the Unconscious
BTW…
Freud was a cocaine addict
Carl Jung
Focus on how the conscious and subconscious
works
Main theories:
• Individuation: establishing connection
between ego and self
• Introversion and Extraversion
• Myers Briggs Test (personality test)
B.F. Skinner
Main Theories:
• Operant Conditioning
How do the environment, culture, and people
condition someone's behaviour (reinforcing
stimulus)
How to apply psychoanalytic theory
• Consider the author’s own psychological
conflicts as evidenced within his/her work
• Analyze the psyche of literary characters as
if they were real human beings
• Consider how the literary work brings to light
the desires and fears of its readers
So…let’s psychoanalyze “Araby”
• Freud would love this story.
• All of the narrator’s actions are driven by
sexual desire.
• His anguish is a result of the tension
between his id and super-ego
A thesis may look like this:
According to Freudian interpretation, the young
narrator in James Joyce’s “Araby” is conflicted
because his ego cannot reconcile the
conflicting demands of his id and super-ego.
Glen Quagmire
• In groups, psychoanalyze this character
• Develop a thesis
• Outline your argument
• Be ready to share
Homework:
• Do further research on psychoanalytic theory
and how to apply it
• Take notes
• In future classes (in this course), you will be
asked to apply this theory to a piece of
literature using only your notes and the
literature being analyzed
• This will be assessed
Queer Theory
• Serves to question and examine traditional
forms and constructions of sexuality
throughout literary texts.
How to apply queer theory:
• Assume there is no ideal, true or absolute
form or practice of sexuality (or gender)
• Look at all forms of sexuality as relative to
political, social and cultural attitudes
• Think: do characters feel a certain desire
that is not permitted?
Can this theory apply to “Araby”?
Yup. But it will be a
stretch. How can we
argue this?
Check this out…
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Male narrator communicates a bleak existence in the
world of North Richmond Street
Describes the glowing bodies of his male companions
Their play is “manly” (muddy, rough)
Mangan is named, but not his sister
Religious beliefs prevent him from allowing his true
feelings to be realized
Chooses Mangan’s sister because he knows she is
unattainable (doesn’t really want her)
Here’s a possible thesis:
The young narrator in James Joyce’s “Araby”
has a conflicted and tortured relationship with
Mangan’s sister because of his homosocial
desire for his companions.
Let’s Practice applying queer theory
Choose one of the following duo’s and write a
thesis from queer theory perspective:
• Batman and Robin
• Superman and Jimmy Olsen OR
• SpongeBob and Patrick
Be sure to outline your points of argument
Homework:
• Do further research on queer theory and
how to apply it
• Take notes
• In future classes (in this course), you will be
asked to apply this theory to a piece of
literature using only your notes and the
literature being analyzed
• This will be assessed
Marxist Theory
• In its simplest form, Marxist theory is
analysis that focuses on class relations and
societal conflict, that uses a materialist
interpretation .
• Marx believed in complete cooperation,
shared responsibility and equal allocation of
resources.
So if I ask you to apply Marxist
criticism…
• Ask yourself: who has the power and money
in the piece of literature?
• Ask yourself: who lacks these assets?
• Ask yourself: why is that?
• Ask yourself: what is the effect?
Application to “Araby”
• In “Araby”, the young lady and the two gentlemen are the characters who maintain power as they
are English. We know that at the time, England was an oppressive state to Ireland.
• In “Araby” there is no evidence of conflict among people as, except for the bazaar, the story only
involves Irish characters.
• Alienation is also an important term in this kind of analysis. Alienation may refer to any form of
escapism that camouflages harsh realities.
• In “Araby”, we may say that the Catholic Church, being a superstructure, exerts its power over
people in Ireland, and the Bazaar clearly contributes to another form of escapism.
• We also can detect which social class the narrator belongs to by examining the setting. In this
case, the imagery in the opening paragraph makes us envision a lower middle class neighborhood.
• Now, for the bazaar, we see that the narrator’s attitude towards the bazaar change from euphoria to
disappointment. We may risk and say that this change of mood implies the author’s criticism of the
British Imperialism.
Here’s what a thesis may look like:
In his short story “Araby”, James Joyce reflects
Marxist ideals through the power exerted over
the young narrator by the Catholic Church.
Your Turn
• Examine the following webisodes of AMC’s
The Walking Dead through a Marxist lens.
• Take notes
• Develop a thesis
• Outline your argument.
Homework:
• Do further research on Marxist theory and
how to apply it
• Take notes
• In future classes (in this course), you will be
asked to apply this theory to a piece of
literature using only your notes and the
literature being analyzed
• This will be assessed
New Historicism Theory
• New Historicism is a literary theory based on the idea that literature
should be studied and interpreted within the context of both the
history of the author and the history of the critic.
• New Historicism acknowledges not only that a work of literature is
influenced by its author's times and circumstances, but that the
critic's response to that work is also influenced by his environment,
beliefs, and prejudices.
How to apply historical criticism:
• Determine the year, or span of years, in
which a work was completed.
• Research major events, issues, and
concerns of that time; then, look for links to
the themes, symbols, events, and characters
of the work at hand.
New Historicism Lens for “Araby”
• Refer to your class notes on the life and
times of James Joyce
• You will notice that his writing is based
primarily on his own experiences
• All historical, geographical and cultural
references are true to life
Here’s a potential thesis using a new
historicism lens:
In his short story “Araby”, James Joyce reveals
that mundane realities of life in Dublin
undermine plans and thwart desires.
Now you try.
Using a new historicism lens, write a thesis that
explores the effect Harper Lee’s personal
experiences have on her writing of To Kill A
Mockingbird.
Homework:
• Do further research on new historicism and
how to apply it
• Take notes
• In future classes (in this course), you will be
asked to apply this theory to a piece of
literature using only your notes and the
literature being analyzed
• This will be assessed
Moral Philosophy
Through this lens, literary works are judged by
their ethical teachings and by their effects on
readers.
• Literature that is ethically sound and
encourages virtue is praised
• Literature that misguides and corrupts is
condemned.
Moral Philosophy Continued
Literature is considered a worthy substitute for
religion.
Many of the greatest writers have considered
themselves teachers as well as artists.
Plato, Aristotle, Horace all believed literature
capable of fostering virtue.
Criticisms of Moral Philosophy
Difficult to determine ethics.
Values are subjective and can vary from one
society to the next.
Issues are not always black or white.
The Bible is often used as a moral reference, but
some bible passages conflict with modern morality.
How to Apply Moral Philosophy
Critics taking a moral or philosophical approach usually describe or evaluate a
work in terms of the ideas and values it contains.
This often means examining a work’s ideas and values—
both those expressed directly by the narrator or character and those implied by
the overall design and content—in relation to a particular ethical,
philosophical, or religious system (Virtue Ethics, Ethical Egoism, Utilitarianism,
Christianity, etc.).
Let’s Apply Moral Philosophy to “Araby”
To do this, first list all the issues connected to
morality in the work:
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Infatuation
Action without logic
Foolishness
Preoccupation with physical needs
Vanity
Pride
Self-deception
Straying from religion
Here’s What a Thesis Might look like:
In his short story “Araby”, James Joyce
preaches that when one questions the morality
of his society and his faith, this will ultimately
lead to downfall.
Now you try:
Using the moral philosophy lens, (you may
have to look up morals and values if you have
none) write a thesis for any of the following
movies:
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Harry Potter (any book)
Dracula Untold
Pride and Prejudice
Catch Me If You Can
The Great Gatsby
Homework:
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Do further research on Moral Philosophy and how to
apply it (look at (Virtue Ethics, Ethical
Egoism, Utilitarianism, Christianity, etc.).
Take notes
In future classes (in this course), you will be asked to
apply this theory to a piece of literature using only your
notes and the literature being analyzed
This will be assessed