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Writing About Literature
This book is an easy to read introduction to writing about and analyzing literature.
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Your instructor has asked you to write a review or analyze a piece of literature, but where do you begin? Use the links below to learn about the various schools of literary criticism. Then look for journal articles, books, videos or web sites discussing the author and his/her works using the tabs above.
What is Literary Criticism and Theory?
- Introductory Guide to Critical Theory
Created by Dino Felluga, Associate Professor of English at Purdue University, The Introductory Guide to Critical Theory provides a brief overview of the following critical schools and/or areas: gender and sex, Marxist literary theory, narratology, New Historicism, Postmodernism, and Psychoanalysis. Within each overview, Felluga provides a general introduction to the school or area's terminology, sample applications, syllabi, modules featuring relevant critics, and links to additional resources.
This article from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a peer-reviewed academic resource, features a brief overview of the following areas of criticism: Formalism, New Criticism, Marxist literary theory, Structuralism, Post-structuralism, New Historicism, Cultural Materialism, ethnic studies and Post-colonial Criticism, gender studies and Queer Theory, and cultural studies. The article also provides a list of references for further reading.
From Columbia Encyclopedia
Term applied to certain American artists and writers who were popular during the 1950s. Essentially anarchic, members of the beat generation rejected traditional social and artistic forms. MORE
Harlem Renaissance: Topic Page
Term used to describe a flowering of African-American literature and art in the 1920s, mainly in the Harlem district of New York City. MORE
From The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
A school of poetry which flourished in England and America between 1912 and 1914 and emphasized the virtues of clarity, compression, and precision. MORE
Magic Realism: Topic Page
A type of post-modernist fiction that mixes elements of fantasy, fable, and folklore with realistic narrative, imbuing it with a fabulous or dreamlike quality. MORE
Modernism: Topic Page
Modernism is based on a concern with form and the exploration of technique as opposed to content and narrative. In literature, writers experimented with alternatives to orthodox sequential storytelling. MORE
From Encyclopedia of American Poetry: The Twentieth Century
Interpreted broadly, the category of performance poetry might include any poem that is read, sung, recited, acted, or otherwise performed before an audience. MORE
Romanticism: Topic Page
A late 18c and early 19c movement in art, literature and music, characterized by an emphasis on feelings and emotions, often using imagery taken from nature, and creating forms which are relatively free from rules and set orders. MORE
From Contemporary Youth Culture: An International Encyclopedia
SLAM is a hybrid of spoken word and performed poetry, sometimes with music, that gives individuals an opportunity to voice their opinions and feelings on any topic; conveys urgency, action, and excitement. MORE
Transcendentalism: Topic Page
Transcendentalism was a series of new ideas that flourished among writers and philosophers in New England during the 19th century. MORE
WNC Literary Research Assignment
The information in this guide is taken from Credo - one of WNC Library's encyclopedic databases. If you don't find the genre or movement you are researching, you can go directly to Credo.
Detective fiction: Topic Page
Genre of novel or short story in which a mystery is solved mainly by the action of a professional or amateur detective. Where the mystery to be solved concerns a crime, the work may be called crime fiction. MORE
Its thematic currency was fear mingled with desire, its plots were openly obsessed with the workings of power (the suffering heroine and the Satanic villain were among its stereotypes)...MORE
Historical novel: Topic Page
A novel with a period in history as its setting, which includes historical events and characters. MORE
H. P. Lovecraft declares: `The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is of the unknown. MORE
Letters: Topic Page
In literature, written messages, ranging from those addressed to the public and those sent from lover to lover, to business letters and thank-you notes. The common quality they share is a lively style, echoing the personality of the sender yet aimed at the mind and heart of the receiver. MORE
Mystery: Topic Page
Or mystery story, literary genre in which the cause (or causes) of a mysterious happening, often a crime, is gradually revealed by the hero or heroine. MORE
Novel: Topic Page
In modern literary usage, a sustained work of prose fiction a volume or more in length. It is distinguished from the short story and the fictional sketch, which are necessarily brief. MORE
Pastoral: Topic Page
Literary work in which the shepherd's life is presented in a conventionalized manner. In this convention the purity and simplicity of shepherd life is contrasted with the corruption and artificiality of the court or the city. The pastoral is found in poetry, drama, and fiction, and many subjects. MORE
Romance: Topic Page
In literature, tales of love and chivalric adventure, in verse or prose, that became popular in France about 1200 and spread throughout Europe. MORE
Short story: Topic Page
Short work of prose fiction, usually consisting of between 500 and 10,000 words, which typically either sets up and resolves a single narrative point or depicts a mood or an atmosphere. MORE