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PART

V
Critical Perspectives
CHAPTER
35
Critical Approaches: The Nature of
Criticism
In everyday talk the most common meaning of criticism is something like finding fault!" And to #e
critical is to #e censorious! $ut a critic can see e%cellences as &ell as faults! $ecause &e turn to criticism
&ith the hope that the critic has seen something &e have missed' the most valua#le criticism is not that
&hich shakes its finger at faults' #ut that &hich calls our attention to interesting things going on in the
&ork of art! (ere is a statement #y )! (! Auden *+,-./+,.30' suggesting that criticism is most useful
&hen it calls our attention to things &orth attending to:
)hat is the function of a critic1 2o far as I am concerned' he can do me one or more of the
follo&ing services:
+! 3Introduce me to authors or &orks of &hich I &as hitherto una&are!
4! 3Convince me that I have undervalued an author or a &ork #ecause I had not read them
carefully enough!
3! 32ho& me relations #et&een &orks of different ages and cultures &hich I could never have
seen for myself #ecause I do not kno& enough and never shall!
5! 36ive a reading" of a &ork &hich increases my understanding of it!
5! 3Thro& light upon the process of artistic 7aking!"
8! 3Thro& light upon the relation of art to life' science' economics' ethics' religion' etc!
9The Dyers Hand *Ne& :ork' +,830' pages ;/,
Auden does not neglect the delight &e get from literature' #ut he e%tends *especially in his si%th point0 the
range of criticism to include topics #eyond the literary &ork itself! Notice too the emphasis on o#serving'
sho&ing' and illuminating' &hich suggests that the function of critical &riting is not very different from
the most common vie& of the function of imaginative &riting!
)henever &e talk a#out a &ork of literature or of art' or' for that matter' even a#out a so3so movie or
television sho&' &hat &e say depends in large measure on certain conscious or unconscious assumptions
that &e make: I liked it< the characters &ere very #elieva#le" *here the assumption is that characters
ought to #e #elieva#le0< I didn=t like it< there &as too much violence" *here the assumption is that
violence ought not to #e sho&n' or if it is sho&n it should #e made a#horrent0< I didn=t like it< it &as
a&fully slo&" *here the assumption pro#a#ly is that there ought to #e a fair amount of physical action'
perhaps even changes of scene' rather than characters >ust talking0< I didn=t like it< I don=t think topics of
this sort ought to #e discussed pu#licly" *here the assumption is a moral one' that it is indecent to present
certain topics0< I liked it partly #ecause it &as refreshing to hear such frankness" *here again the
assumption is moral' and more or less the reverse of the previous one0!
In short' &hether &e reali?e it or not' &e >udge the &ork from a particular vie&point9its realism' its
morality' or &hatever!
Professional critics' too' &ork from assumptions' #ut their assumptions are usually highly conscious'
and the critics may define their assumptions at length! They regard themselves as' for instance' @reudians
or 7ar%ists or Aueer Theorists! They read all te%ts through the lens of a particular theory' and their focus
ena#les them to see things that other&ise might go unnoticed! It should #e added' ho&ever' that if a lens
or critical perspective or interpretive strategy helps us to see certain things' it also limits our vision! 7any
critics therefore regard their method not as an e%clusive &ay of thinking #ut only as a useful tool!
)hat follo&s is a #rief survey of the chief current approaches to literature! :ou may find' as you read
these pages' that one or another approach sounds especially congenial' and therefore you may &ant to
make use of it in your reading and &riting! Bn the other hand' it=s important to remem#er' first' that
&orks of literature are highly varied' and' second' that &e read them for various purposes9to kill time' to
en>oy fanciful visions' to #e amused' to e%plore alien &ays of feeling' and to learn a#out ourselves! It may
#e #est to try to respond to each te%t in the &ay that the te%t seems to reCuire rather than to read all te%ts
according to a single formula! :ou=ll find that some &orks &ill lead you to &ant to think a#out them from
several angles! A play #y 2hakespeare may stimulate you to read a #ook a#out the Dli?a#ethan playhouse'
and another that offers a 7ar%ist interpretation of the Dnglish Eenaissance' and still another that offers a
feminist analysis of 2hakespeare=s plays! All of these approaches' and others' &ill help you to deepen your
understanding of the literary &orks that you read!
FORMALIST (OR NEW) CRITICISM
Formalist criticism emphasi?es the &ork as an independent creation' a self3contained unit' something to
#e studied in itself' not as part of some larger conte%t' such as the author=s life or a historical period! This
kind of study is called formalist criticism #ecause the emphasis is on the form of the &ork' the
relationships #et&een the parts9the construction of the plot' the contrasts #et&een characters' the
functions of rhymes' the point of vie&' and so on!
Cleanth $rooks' perhaps America=s most distinguished formalist critic' in an essay in the Kenyon
Review *)inter +,5+0' reprinted in The Modern Critical Spectrum, eds! 6erald Fay 6old#erg and Nancy
7armer 6old#erg *+,840' set forth &hat he called his articles of faith":
That literary criticism is a description and an evaluation of its o#>ect!
That the primary concern of criticism is &ith the pro#lem of unity9the kind of &hole &hich the
literary &ork forms or fails to form' and the relation of the various parts to each other in #uilding
up this &hole!
That the formal relations in a &ork of literature may include' #ut certainly e%ceed' those of logic!
That in a successful &ork' form and content cannot #e separated!
That form is meaning!
If you have read the earlier pages of this #ook you are already familiar &ith most of these ideas' #ut in the
ne%t fe& pages &e &ill look into some of them in detail!
@ormalist criticism is' in essence' intrinsic criticism' rather than e%trinsic' for *at least in theory0 it
concentrates on the &ork itself' independent of its &riter and the &riter=s #ackground9that is'
independent of #iography' psychology' sociology' and history! The discussions of Gangston (ughes=s
(arlem" *pages 885/88,0 and of :eats=s The $alloon of the 7ind" *pages 53/580 are e%amples! The
gist is that a &ork of literature is comple%' unified' and freestanding! In fact' of course' &e usually #ring
outside kno&ledge to the &ork! @or instance' a reader &ho is familiar &ith' say' Hamlet can hardly study
another tragedy #y 2hakespeare' let=s say Romeo and Juliet, &ithout #ringing to the second play some
conception of &hat 2hakespearean tragedy is or can #e! A reader of Alice )alker=s The Color urple
inevita#ly #rings unforgetta#le outside material *perhaps the e%perience of #eing an African3American' or
at least some kno&ledge of the history of African3Americans0 to the literary &ork! It is very hard to talk
only a#out Hamlet or The Color urple and not at the same time talk a#out' or at least have in mind'
aspects of human e%perience!
@ormalist criticism #egins &ith a personal response to the literary &ork' #ut it goes on to try to
account for the response #y closely e%amining the &ork! It assumes that the author shaped the poem' play'
or story so fully that the &ork guides the reader=s responses! The assumption that meaning" is fully and
completely presented &ithin the te%t is not much in favor today' &hen many literary critics argue that the
active or su#>ective reader *or even &hat Fudith @etterley' a feminist critic' has called the resisting
reader"0 and not the author of the te%t makes the meaning!" 2till' even if one grants that the reader is
active' not passive or coolly o#>ective' one can hold &ith the formalists that the author is active too'
constructing a te%t that in some measure controls the reader=s responses! Huring the process of &riting
a#out our responses &e may find that our responses change! A formalist critic &ould say that &e see &ith
increasing clarity &hat the &ork is really like' and &hat it really means! *2imilarly' &hen authors &rite
and revise a te%t they may change their understanding of &hat they are doing! A story that #egan as a
lighthearted >oke may turn into something far more serious than the &riter imagined at the start' #ut' at
least for the formalist critic' the final &ork contains a sta#le meaning that all competent readers can
perceive!0
In practice' formalist criticism usually takes one of t&o forms' explication *the unfolding of meaning'
line #y line or even &ord #y &ord0 or analsis *the e%amination of the relations of parts0! The essay on
:eats=s The $alloon of the 7ind" *pages 53/580 is an e%plication' a setting forth of the implicit
meanings of the &ords! The essay on Iate Chopin=s The 2tory of an (our" *pages 5-/5+0 is an analysis!
To repeat: @ormalist criticism assumes that a &ork of art is sta#le! An artist constructs a coherent'
comprehensi#le &ork' thus conveying to a reader an emotion or an idea! T! 2! Dliot said that the &riter
can=t >ust pour out emotions onto the page! Eather' Dliot said in an essay entitled (amlet and (is
Pro#lems" *+,+,0' The only &ay of e%pressing emotion in the form of art is #y finding an Jo#>ective
correlative=< in other &ords' a set of o#>ects' a situation' a chain of events &hich shall #e the formula of
the particular emotion!"
)ith this in mind' consider Eo#ert @rost=s The 2pan of Gife":
The old dog #arks #ack&ard &ithout getting up!
I can remem#er &hen he &as a pup!
The image of an old dog #arking #ack&ard' and the speaker=s memory9apparently triggered #y the old
dog=s #ark9of the dog as a pup' presuma#ly is the o#>ective correlative" of @rost=s emotion or idea< @rost
is e%pressing emotion" through this formula!" And all of us' as competent readers' can grasp pretty
accurately &hat @rost e%pressed! @rost=s emotion' idea' meaning' or &hatever is o#>ectively" em#odied in
the te%t! @ormalist critics try to e%plain ho& and &hy literary &orks9these &ords' in this order9
constitute uniCue' comple% structures that em#ody or set forth meanings!
@ormalist criticism' also called the Ne! Criticism *to distinguish it from the historical and
#iographical &riting that in earlier decades had dominated literary study0' #egan to achieve prominence in
the late +,4-s and &as the dominant form from the late +,3-s until a#out +,.-' and even today it is
&idely considered the #est &ay for a student to #egin to study a &ork of literature! @or one thing' formalist
criticism empo&ers the student< that is' the student confronts the &ork immediately' and is not told first to
spend days or &eeks or months' for instance' reading @reud and his follo&ers in order to &rite a
psychoanalytic essay or reading 7ar% and 7ar%ists in order to &rite a 7ar%ist essay' or doing research on
necessary historical #ackground" in order to &rite a historical essay!
"ECONSTR#CTION
"econstr$ction% or deconstructive or poststructuralist criticism' can almost #e characteri?ed as the
opposite of everything formalist criticism stands for! Heconstruction #egins &ith the assumptions that the
&orld is unkno&a#le and that language is unsta#le' elusive' unfaithful! *Ganguage is all of these things
#ecause meaning is largely generated #y opposition: (ot" means something in opposition to cold'" #ut a
hot day may #e ,- degrees &hereas a hot oven is at least 5-- degrees< and a hot item" may #e of any
temperature!0 Heconstructionists seek to sho& that a literary &ork *usually called a te%t" or a
discourse"0 inevita#ly is self3contradictory! Knlike formalist critics9&ho hold that a competent author
constructs a coherent &ork &ith a sta#le meaning' and that competent readers can perceive this meaning
9deconstructionists *e!g!' $ar#ara Fohnson' in The Critical Difference L+,;-M0 hold that a &ork has no
coherent meaning at the center! Fonathan Culler' in !n Deconstruction *+,;40' says that to deconstruct a
discourse is to sho& ho& it undermines the philosophy it asserts" *;80! *Fohnson and Culler provide
accessi#le introductions' #ut the ma>or document is FacCues Herrida=s seminal' difficult &ork' !f
"rammatolo#y L+,8.' trans! +,.8M!0 The te%t is only marks on paper' and therefore so far as a reader goes
the author of a te%t is not the &riter #ut the reader< te%ts are indeterminate'" open'" and unsta#le!"
Hespite the emphasis on indeterminacy' one sometimes detects in deconstructionist interpretations a
vie& associated &ith 7ar%ism! This is the idea that authors are socially constructed" from the
discourses of po&er" or signifying practices" that surround them! Thus' although authors may think
they are individuals &ith independent minds' their &orks usually reveal9unkno&n to the authors9the
society=s economic #ase! Heconstructionists interrogate" a te%t' and they reveal &hat the authors &ere
una&are of or had thought they had kept safely out of sight! That is' deconstructionists often find a rather
specific meaning9though this meaning is one that might surprise the author!
Heconstruction is valua#le insofar as9like the Ne& Criticism9it encourages close' rigorous
attention to the te%t! @urthermore' in its re>ection of the claim that a &ork has a single sta#le meaning'
deconstruction has had a positive influence on the study of literature! The pro#lem &ith deconstruction'
ho&ever' is that too often it is reductive' telling the same story a#out every te%t9that here' yet again' and
again' &e see ho& a te%t is incoherent and heterogeneous! There is' too' an irritating arrogance in some
deconstructive criticism: The author could not see ho& hisNher te%t is fundamentally unsta#le and self3
contradictory' #ut $ can and no& &ill interrogate the te%t and &ill issue my report!" Eeaders' of course'
should not prostrate themselves #efore te%ts' #ut there is something aske& a#out an approach9ho&ever
intense and detailed9that often leads readers to conclude that they kno& a good deal more than the
#enighted author!
A&are that their emphasis on the insta#ility of language implies that their o&n te%ts are unsta#le or
even incoherent' some deconstructionists seem to aim at entertaining rather than at edifying! They
pro#a#ly &ould claim that they do not deconstruct meaning in the sense of destroying it< rather' they
might say' they e%u#erantly multiply meanings' and to this end they may use such devices as puns' irony'
and allusions' some&hat as a poet might' and >ust as though *one often feels0 they think they are as
creative as the &riters they are commenting on! Indeed' for many deconstructionists' the traditional
conception of literature" is merely an elitist construct!" All te%ts" or discourses" *novels' scientific
papers' a Ie&pie doll on the mantel' &atching TV' suing in court' &alking the dog' and all other signs
that human #eings make0 are of a piece< all are unsta#le systems of signifying' all are fictions' all are
literature!" If literature *in the usual sense0 occupies a special place in deconstruction it is #ecause
literature delights in its playfulness' its fictiveness' &hereas other discourses nominally re>ect playfulness
and fictiveness!
REA"ER&RESPONSE CRITICISM
Pro#a#ly all reading includes some sort of response9This is terrific'" This is a #ore'" I don=t kno&
&hat=s going on here"9and pro#a#ly almost all &riting a#out literature #egins &ith some such response'
#ut specialists in literature disagree greatly a#out the role that response plays' or should play' in
e%periencing literature and in &riting a#out it!
At one e%treme are those &ho say that our response to a &ork of literature should #e a purely aesthetic
response9a response to a &ork of art9and not the response &e &ould have to something compara#le in
real life! To take an o#vious point: If in real life &e heard someone plotting a murder' &e &ould intervene'
perhaps #y calling the police or #y attempting to &arn the victim! $ut &hen &e hear 7ac#eth and Gady
7ac#eth plot to kill Iing Huncan' &e &atch &ith deep interest% &e hear their &ords &ith pleasure, and
may#e &e even look for&ard to seeing the murder and to seeing &hat the characters then &ill say and
&hat &ill happen to the murderers!
)hen you think a#out it' the vast ma>ority of the &orks of literature do not have a close' o#vious
resem#lance to the reader=s life! 7ost readers of Mac&eth are not 2cots' and no readers are 2cottish kings
or Cueens! *It=s not >ust a matter of older literature< no readers of Toni 7orrison=s 'eloved are nineteenth3
century African3Americans!0 The connections readers make #et&een themselves and the lives in most of
the #ooks they read are not' on the &hole' connections #ased on ethnic or professional identities' #ut'
rather' connections &ith states of consciousness' for instance a young person=s sense of isolation from the
family' or a young person=s sense of guilt for initial se%ual e%periences! $efore &e re>ect a &ork either
#ecause it seems too close to us *I=m a man and I don=t like the depiction of this man"0' or on the other
hand too far from our e%perience *I=m not a &oman' so ho& can I en>oy reading a#out these &omen1"0'
&e pro#a#ly should try to follo& the advice of Virginia )oolf' &ho said' Ho not dictate to your author< try
to #ecome him!" Nevertheless' some literary &orks of the past may today seem intolera#le' at least in part!
There are passages in 7ark T&ain=s Huc(le&erry )inn that deeply upset us today! )e should' ho&ever' try
to reconstruct the cultural assumptions of the age in &hich the &ork &as &ritten! If &e do so' &e may find
that if in some &ays it reflected its age' in other &ays it challenged that culture!
2till' some of our e%periences' some of what we are, may make it virtually impossi#le for us to read a
&ork sympathetically or o#>ectively'" e%periencing it only as a &ork of art and not as a part of life! Take
so hum#le a form of literature as the >oke! A fe& decades ago >okes a#out nagging &ives and mothers3in3
la& &ere &idely thought to #e funny! Bur fairly recent heightened a&areness of se%ism today makes those
>okes unfunny! T&enty years ago the meaning" of a >oke a#out a nagging &ife or a#out a mother3in3la&
&as' in effect' (ere=s a funny episode that sho&s &hat &omen typically are!" Today the meaning"9at
least as the hearer conceives it9is The unfunny story you have >ust told sho&s that you have stupid'
stereotypical vie&s of &omen!" In short' the >oke may mean" one thing to the teller' and a very different
thing to the hearer!
Eeader3response criticism' then' says that the meaning" of a &ork is not merely something put into
the &ork #y the &riter< rather' the meaning" is an interpretation created or constructed or produced #y
the reader as &ell as the &riter! 2tanley @ish' an e%ponent of reader3response theory' in $s There a Te*t in
This Class+ *+,;-0' puts it this &ay: Interpretation is not the art of construing #ut of constructing!
Interpreters do not decode poems< they make them" *34.0!
Get=s no& try to relate these ideas more specifically to comments a#out literature! If meaning" is the
production or creation not simply of the &riter #ut also of the perceiver' does it follo& that there is no such
thing as a correct" interpretation of the meaning of a &ork of literature1 Ans&ers to this Cuestion differ!
At one e%treme' the reader is said to construct or reconstruct the te%t under the firm guidance of the
author! That is' the author so po&erfully shapes or constructs the te%t9encodes an idea9that the reader is
virtually compelled to perceive or reconstruct or decode it the &ay the author &ants it to #e perceived! *)e
can call this vie& the o&,ective view, since it essentially holds that readers look o#>ectively at the &ork and
see &hat the author put into it!0 At the other e%treme' the reader constructs the meaning according to his
or her o&n personality9that is' according to the reader=s psychological identity! *)e can call this vie&
the su&,ective view, since it essentially holds that readers inevita#ly pro>ect their feelings into &hat they
perceive!0 An e%treme version of the su#>ective vie& holds that there is no such thing as literature< there
are only te%ts' some of &hich some readers regard in a particularly elitist &ay!
Against the o#>ective vie& one can argue thus: No author can fully control a reader=s response to
every detail of the te%t! No matter ho& carefully constructed the te%t is' it leaves something9indeed' a
great deal9to the reader=s imagination! @or instance' &hen 7ac#eth says that life is a taleNTold #y an
idiot' full of sound and furyN2ignifying nothing'" are &e getting a profound thought from 2hakespeare or'
on the contrary' are &e getting a shallo& thought from 7ac#eth' a man &ho does not see that his criminal
deeds have #een played out against a heaven that >ustly punishes his crimes1 In short' the o#>ective vie&
neglects to take account of the fact that the author is not continually at our shoulder making sure that &e
interpret the &ork in a particular &ay!
It is pro#a#ly true' as @lannery B=Connor says in Mystery and Manners *+,5.0' that good &riters
select every &ord' every detail' for a reason' every incident for a reason" *.50' #ut there are al&ays #aps
or indeterminacies, to use the &ords of )olfgang Iser' a reader3response critic! Eeaders al&ays go #eyond
the te%t' dra&ing inferences' and evaluating the te%t in terms of their o&n e%perience! In the Bld
Testament' for instance' in 6enesis' the author tells us *Chapter 440 that 6od commanded A#raham to
sacrifice his son Isaac' and then says that A#raham rose up early in the morning" and prepared to fulfill
the command! )e are not e%plicitly told why A#raham rose up early in the morning'" or ho& he spent
the intervening night' #ut some readers take early in the morning" to signify *reasona#ly10 that A#raham
has had a sleepless night! Bthers take it to signify *reasona#ly10 that A#raham is prompt in o#eying 6od=s
command! 2ome readers fill the gap &ith #oth e%planations' or &ith neither! Hou#tless much depends on
the reader' #ut there is no dou#t that readers naturali?e"9make natural' according to their o&n ideas9
&hat they read!
In an e%treme form the su#>ective vie& denies that authors can make us perceive the meanings that
they try to put into their &orks! This position suggests that every reader has a different idea of &hat a &ork
means' an idea that reflects the reader=s o&n ideas! Dvery reader' then' is Narcissus' &ho looked into a
pool of &ater and thought he sa& a #eautiful youth #ut really sa& only a reflection of himself! $ut does
every reader see his or her individual image in each literary &ork1 Bf course not! Dven Hamlet, a play
that has generated an enormous range of interpretation' is universally seen as a tragedy' a play that deals
&ith painful realities! If someone &ere to tell us that Hamlet is a comedy' and that the end' &ith a pile of
corpses' is especially funny' &e &ould not say' Bh' &ell' &e all see things in our o&n &ay!" Eather' &e
&ould make our e%it as Cuickly as possi#le!
7any people &ho su#scri#e to one version or another of a reader3response theory &ould agree that
they are concerned not &ith all readers #ut &ith &hat they call informed readers or competent readers-
Thus' informed or competent readers are familiar &ith the conventions of literature! They understand' for
instance' that in a play such as Hamlet the characters usually speak in verse! 2uch readers' then' do not
e%press ama?ement that (amlet often speaks metrically' and that he sometimes uses rhyme! These readers
understand that verse is the normal language for most of the characters in the play' and therefore such
readers do not characteri?e (amlet as a poet! Informed' competent readers' in short' kno& the rules of the
game! There &ill still' of course' #e plenty of room for differences of interpretation! 2ome people &ill find
(amlet not at all #lame&orthy< others &ill find him some&hat #lame&orthy< and still others may find him
highly #lame&orthy! In short' &e can say that a &riter &orks against a #ackground that is shared #y
readers! As readers' &e are familiar &ith various kinds of literature' and &e read or see Hamlet as a
particular kind of literary &ork' a tragedy' a play that evokes *in 2hakespeare=s &ords0 &oe or &onder'"
sadness and astonishment! Ino&ing *to a large degree0 ho& &e ought to respond' our responses thus are
not merely private!
Consider taking' as a guide to reading' a remark made #y 7encius *3.4/4;, $CD0' the Chinese
Confucian philosopher! 2peaking of reading The 'oo( of !des, the oldest Chinese anthology' 7encius
said that a reader must let his thought go to meet the intention as he &ould a guest!" )e often cannot #e
sure a#out the author=s intention *&e do not kno& &hat 2hakespeare intended to say in Hamlet% &e have
only the play itself0' and even those relatively fe& authors &ho have e%plicitly stated their intentions may
#e untrust&orthy for one reason or another! :et there is something highly attractive in 7encius=s
suggestion that &hen &e read &e should9at least for a start9treat our author not &ith suspicion or
hostility #ut &ith good&ill and &ith the e%pectation of pleasure!
.hat are the implications of reader/response theory for writin# an essay on a wor( of literature+
Dven if &e agree that &e are talking only a#out competent readers' does this mean that almost anything
goes in setting forth one=s responses in an essay1 Almost all advocates of any form of reader3response
criticism agree on one thing: There are agreed3upon rules of writin# if not of reading! This one point of
agreement can #e amplified to contain at least t&o aspects: *+0 &e all agree *more or less0 as to &hat
constitutes evidence' and *40 &e all agree that a &ritten response should #e coherent! If you say that you
find (amlet to #e less no#le than his adversary' Claudius' you &ill #e e%pected to provide evidence #y
pointing to specific passages' to specific things that (amlet and Claudius say and do! And you &ill #e
e%pected to order the material into an effective' coherent seCuence' so that the reader can move easily
through your essay and &ill understand &hat you are getting at!
ARCHET'PAL (OR M'TH) CRITICISM
Carl 6! Fung' the 2&iss psychiatrist' in Contri&utions to 0nalytical sycholo#y *+,4;0' postulates the
e%istence of a collective unconscious'" an inheritance in our #rains consisting of countless typical
e%periences Lsuch as #irth' escape from danger' selection of a mateM of our ancestors!" @e& people today
#elieve in an inherited collective unconscious'" #ut many people agree that certain repeated e%periences'
such as going to sleep and hours later a&akening' or the perception of the setting and of the rising sun' or
of the annual death and re#irth of vegetation' manifest themselves in dreams' myths' and literature9in
these instances' as stories of apparent death and re#irth! This archetypal plot of death and re#irth is said to
#e evident in Coleridge=s The Rime of the 0ncient Mariner, for e%ample! The ship suffers a deathlike calm
and then is miraculously restored to motion' and' in a sort of parallel re#irth' the mariner moves from
spiritual death to rene&ed perception of the holiness of life! Another archetypal plot is the Cuest' &hich
usually involves the testing and initiation of a hero' and thus essentially represents the movement from
innocence to e%perience! In addition to archetypal plots there are archetypal characters' since an archetype
is any recurring unit! Among archetypal characters are the 2capegoat' the (ero *savior' deliverer0' the
Terri#le 7other *&itch' stepmother9even the &olf grandmother" in the tale of Gittle Eed Eiding (ood0'
and the )ise Bld 7an *father figure' magician0!
$ecause' the theory holds' #oth &riter and reader share unconscious memories' the tale an author tells
*derived from the collective unconscious0 may strangely move the reader' speaking to his or her collective
unconscious! As 7aud $odkin puts it' in 0rchetypal atterns in oetry *+,350' something &ithin us
leaps in response to the effective presentation in poetry of an ancient theme" *50! $ut this emphasis on
ancient *or repeated0 themes has made archetypal criticism vulnera#le to the charge that it is reductive!
The critic looks for certain characters or patterns of action and values the &ork if the motifs are there'
mean&hile overlooking &hat is uniCue' su#tle' distinctive' and truly interesting a#out the &ork! That is' to
put the matter crudely' a &ork is regarded as good if it is pretty much like other &orks' &ith the usual
motifs and characters! A second &eakness in some archetypal criticism is that in the search for the deepest
meaning of a &ork the critic may crudely impose a pattern' seeing *for instance0 The Auest in every &alk
do&n the street! $ut perhaps to say this is to #eg the Cuestion< it is the critic=s >o# to &rite so persuasively
that the reader at least tentatively accepts the critic=s vie&! @or a &ide3ranging study of one particular
motif' see $ar#ara @ass Geavy=s $n Search of the Swan Maiden *+,,50' a discussion of the legend of a
s&an maiden &ho is forced to marry a mortal #ecause he possesses something of hers' usually a garment
or an animal skin! Geavy analy?es several versions of the story' &hich she takes to #e a representation not
only of female rage against male repression #ut also a representation of male fear of female #etrayal!
Geavy ends her #ook #y e%amining this motif in I#sen=s 0 Dolls House- (er claim is that &hen Nora finds
a lost o#>ect' the dance costume' she can flee from the tyrannical domestic &orld and thus she regains her
freedom!
If archetypal criticism sometimes seems farfetched' it is nevertheless true that one of its strengths is
that it invites us to use comparisons' and comparing is often an e%cellent &ay to see not only &hat a &ork
shares &ith other &orks #ut &hat is distinctive in the &ork! The most successful practitioner of archetypal
criticism &as the late Northrop @rye *+,+4/+,,+0' &hose numerous #ooks help readers to see fascinating
connections #et&een &orks! @or @rye=s e%plicit comments a#out archetypal criticism' as &ell as for
e%amples of such criticism in action' see especially his 0natomy of Criticism *+,5.0 and The 1ducated
$ma#ination *+,850! Bn archetypes see also Chapter +8' Archetypal Patterns'" in Norman @riedman'
)orm and Meanin# in )iction *+,.50!
HISTORICAL SCHOLARSHIP
Historical criticism studies a &ork &ithin its historical conte%t! Thus' a student of Julius Caesar, Hamlet,
or Mac&eth9plays in &hich ghosts appear9may try to find out a#out Dli?a#ethan attitudes to&ard
ghosts! )e may find that the Dli?a#ethans took ghosts more seriously than &e do< on the other hand' &e
may find that ghosts &ere e%plained in various &ays' for instance sometimes as figments of the
imagination and sometimes as shapes taken #y the devil in order to mislead the virtuous! 2imilarly' a
historical essay concerned &ith !thello may #e devoted to Dli?a#ethan attitudes to&ard 7oors' or to
Dli?a#ethan ideas of love' or' for that matter' to Dli?a#ethan ideas of a daughter=s o#ligations to&ard her
father=s &ishes concerning her suitor! The historical critic assumes *and one can hardly dispute the
assumption0 that &riters' ho&ever individualistic' are shaped #y the particular social conte%ts in &hich
they live! Bne can put it this &ay: The goal of historical criticism is to understand ho& people in the past
thought and felt! It assumes that such understanding can enrich our understanding of a particular &ork!
The assumption is' ho&ever' disputa#le' since one may argue that the artist9let=s say 2hakespeare9may
not have shared the age=s vie& on this or that! All of the half3do?en or so 7oors in Dli?a#ethan plays
other than !thello are villainous or foolish' #ut this evidence' one can argue' does not prove that therefore
Bthello is villainous or foolish!
Marxist Criticism
Bne form of historical criticism is Marxist criticism% named for Iarl 7ar% *+;+;/+;;30! Actually' to say
one form" is misleading' since 7ar%ist criticism today is varied' #ut essentially it sees history primarily
as a struggle #et&een socioeconomic classes' and it sees literature *and everything else0 as the product of
economic forces of the period!
@or 7ar%ists' economics is the #ase" or infrastructure"< on this #ase rests a superstructure" of
ideology *la&' politics' philosophy' religion' and the arts' including literature0' reflecting the interests of
the dominant class! Thus' literature is a material product' produced9like #read or #attleships9in order to
#e consumed in a given society! Gike every other product' literature is the product of &ork' and it does
&ork! A #ourgeois society' for e%ample' &ill produce literature that in one &ay or another cele#rates
#ourgeois values' such as individualism! These &orks serve to assure the society that produces them that
its values are solid' even universal! The enlightened 7ar%ist &riter or critic' on the other hand' e%poses
the fallacy of traditional values and replaces them &ith the truths found in 7ar%ism! In the heyday of
7ar%ism in the Knited 2tates' during the depression of the +,3-s' it &as common for such 7ar%ist critics
as 6ranville (icks to assert that the novel must sho& the class struggle!
@e& critics of any sort &ould disagree that &orks of art in some measure reflect the age that produced
them' #ut most contemporary 7ar%ist critics go further! @irst' they assert9in a repudiation of &hat has
#een called Jvulgar= 7ar%ist theory"9that the deepest historical meaning of a literary &ork is to #e
found in &hat it does not say' &hat its ideology does not permit it to e%press! 2econd' 7ar%ists take
seriously 7ar%=s famous comment that the philosophers have only interpreted the &orld in various &ays<
the point is to chan#e it!" The critic=s >o# is to change the &orld' #y revealing the economic #asis of the
arts! Not surprisingly' most 7ar%ists are skeptical of such concepts as genius" and masterpiece!" These
concepts' they say' are part of the #ourgeois myth that ideali?es the individual and detaches it from its
economic conte%t! @or an introduction to 7ar%ist criticism' see Terry Dagleton' Mar*ism and 2iterary
Criticism *+,.80!
T(e Ne! Historicism
A recent school of scholarship' called the Ne! Historicism% insists that there is no history" in the sense
of a narrative of indisputa#le past events! Eather' the Ne& (istoricism holds that there is only our version
9our narrative' our representation9of the past! In this vie&' each age pro>ects its o&n preconceptions on
the past< historians may think they are revealing the past' #ut they are revealing only their o&n historical
situation and their personal preferences! Thus' in the nineteenth century and in the t&entieth almost up to
+,,4' Colum#us &as represented as the heroic #enefactor of humankind &ho discovered the Ne& )orld!
$ut even &hile plans &ere #eing made to cele#rate the five3hundredth anniversary of his first voyage
across the Atlantic' voices &ere raised in protest: Colum#us did not discover" a Ne& )orld< after all' the
indigenous people kne& &here they &ere' and it &as Colum#us &ho &as lost' since he thought he &as in
India! People &ho &rote history in' say' +,--' pro>ected onto the past their current vie&s *colonialism &as
a 6ood Thing0' and people &ho in +,,4 &rote history pro>ected onto that same period a very different set
of vie&s *colonialism &as a $ad Thing0! 2imilarly' ancient 6reece' once cele#rated #y historians as the
source of democracy and rational thinking' is no& more often regarded as a society that &as #uilt on
slavery and on the oppression of &omen! And the Eenaissance' once glorified as an age of enlightened
thought' is no& often seen as an age that tyranni?ed &omen' enslaved colonial people' and enslaved itself
&ith its #elief in &itchcraft and astrology! Thinking a#out these changing vie&s' one feels the truth of the
&itticism that the only thing more uncertain than the future is the past!
The Ne& (istoricism is especially associated &ith 2tephen 6reen#latt' &ho populari?ed the term in
+,;4 in the preface to a collection of essays pu#lished in the >ournal "enre- 6reen#latt himself has said of
the Ne& (istoricism that it=s no doctrine at all" *2earnin# to Curse, L+,,-M0 #ut the term is nevertheless
much used' and' as the preceding remarks have suggested' it is especially associated &ith po&er' most
especially &ith revealing the tyrannical practices of a society that others have glorified! The Ne&
(istoricism &as in large measure shaped #y the +,8-s< the students &ho in the +,8-s protested against the
&ar in Vietnam #y holding demonstrations' in the +,;-s9they &ere no& full professors9protested
against Eonald Eeagan #y &riting articles e%posing Eenaissance colonialism! )orks of literature &ere
used as a #asis for a criticism of society! Academic &riting of this sort &as not dry' impartial'
unimpassioned scholarship< rather' it connected the past &ith the present' and it offered value >udgments!
In 6reen#latt=s &ords'
)riting that &as not engaged' that &ithheld >udgments' that failed to connect the present &ith
the past seemed &orthless! 2uch connection could #e made either #y analogy or causality< that is'
a particular set of historical circumstances could #e represented in such a &ay as to #ring out
homologies &ith aspects of the present or' alternatively' those circumstances could #e analy?ed as
the generative forces that led to the modern condition! *2earnin# to Curse, page +8.0
@or a collection of +5 essays e%emplifying the Ne& (istoricism' see (! Aram Veeser' ed!' The 3ew
Historicism *+,,50!
)io*rap(ical Criticism
Bne kind of historical scholarship is the study of &io#raphy, &hich for our purposes includes not only
#iographies #ut also auto#iographies' diaries' >ournals' letters' and so on! )hat e%periences did *for
e%ample0 7ark T&ain undergo1 Are some of the apparently sensational aspects of Huc(le&erry )inn in
fact close to events that T&ain e%perienced1 If so' is he a realist"1 If not' is he &riting in the tradition of
the tall tale"1
The really good #iographies not only tell us a#out the life of the author' #ut they ena#le us to return to
the literary te%ts &ith a deeper understanding of ho& they came to #e &hat they are! If you read Eichard
$! 2e&all=s #iography of Dmily Hickinson' you &ill find a &ealth of material concerning her family and
the &orld she moved in9for instance' the religious ideas that &ere part of her up#ringing!
$iographical study may illuminate even the &ork of a living author! If you are &riting a#out the
poetry of Adrienne Eich' for e%ample' you may &ant to consider &hat she has told us in many essays
a#out her life' especially a#out her relations &ith her father and her hus#and!
PS'CHOLO+ICAL (OR PS'CHOANAL'TIC) CRITICISM
Bne form that #iographical study may take is psc(olo*ical or psc(oanaltic criticism% &hich usually
e%amines the author and the author=s &ritings in the frame&ork of @reudian psychology! A central
doctrine of 2igmund @reud *+;58/+,3,0 is the Bedipus comple%' the vie& that all males *@reud seems not
to have made his mind up a#out females0 unconsciously &ish to displace their fathers and to sleep &ith
their mothers! According to @reud' hatred for the father and love of the mother' normally repressed' may
appear disguised in dreams! )orks of art' like dreams' are disguised versions of repressed &ishes!
Consider the case of Ddgar Allan Poe! An orphan #efore he &as three years old' he &as #rought up in
the family of Fohn Allan' #ut he &as never formally adopted! (is relations &ith Allan &ere stormy' though
he seems to have had #etter relations &ith Allan=s &ife and still #etter relations &ith an aunt' &hose
daughter he married! In the @reudian vie&' Poe=s marriage to his cousin *the daughter of a mother figure0
&as a &ay of sleeping &ith his mother! According to psychoanalytic critics' if &e move from Poe=s life to
his &ork' &e see' it is alleged' this hatred for his father and love for his mother! Thus' the murderer in
The Cask of Amontillado" is said to voice Poe=s hostility to&ard his father' and the &ine vault in &hich
much of the story is set *an encompassing structure associated &ith fluids0 is interpreted as sym#oli?ing
Poe=s desire to return to his mother=s &om#! In Poe=s other &orks' the longing for death is similarly taken
to em#ody his desire to return to the &om#!
Bther psychoanalytic interpretations of Poe have #een offered! Ienneth 2ilverman' author of a
#iography titled 1d#ar 0llan oe *+,,+0 and the editor of a collection titled 3ew 1ssays on oes Ma,or
Tales *+,,30' emphasi?es the fact that Poe &as orphaned #efore he &as three' and &as separated from his
#rother and his infant sister! In 3ew 1ssays 2ilverman relates this circumstance to the many instances of
engulfment" that he finds in Poe=s &ork! Images of engulfment' he points out' are part of a still larger
net&ork of images having to do &ith #iting' devouring' and similar oral mutilation!" )hy are they
common in Poe1 (ere is 2ilverman=s ans&er:
Current psychoanalytic thinking a#out childhood #ereavement e%plains the fantasy of #eing
s&allo&ed up as representing a desire' mi%ed &ith dread' to merge &ith the dead< the &ish to
devour represents a primitive attempt at preserving loved ones' incorporating them so as not to
lose them! *4-0
Notice that psychoanalytic interpretations usually take us a&ay from &hat the author consciously
intended< they purport to tell us &hat the &ork reveals' &hether or not the author &as a&are of this
meaning! The meaning" of the &ork is found not in the surface content of the &ork #ut in the author=s
psyche!
Bne additional e%ample9and it is the most famous9of a psychoanalytic study of a &ork of literature
may #e useful! In Hamlet and !edipus *+,5,0 Drnest Fones' amplifying some comments #y @reud' argued
that (amlet delays killing Claudius #ecause Claudius *&ho has killed (amlet=s father and married
(amlet=s mother0 has done e%actly &hat (amlet himself &anted to do! @or (amlet to kill Claudius' then'
&ould #e to kill himself!
If this approach interests you' take a look at Norman N! (olland=s sychoanalysis and Sha(espeare
*+,880' or @rederick Cre&s=s study of (a&thorne' The Sins of the )athers *+,880! Cre&s finds in
(a&thorne=s &ork evidence of unresolved Bedipal conflicts' and he accounts for the appeal of the fictions
thus: The stories rest on fantasy' #ut on the shared fantasy of mankind' and this makes for a more
penetrating fiction than &ould any illusionistic slice of life" *4830! @or applications to other authors' look
at 2imon B! Gesser=s )iction and the 4nconscious *+,5.0' or at an anthology of criticism' 2iterature and
sychoanalysis, edited #y Ddith Iur?&eil and )illiam Phillips *+,;30!
Psychological criticism can also turn from the author and the &ork to the reader' seeking to e%plain
&hy &e' as readers' respond in certain &ays! )hy' for e%ample' is Hamlet so &idely popular1 A @reudian
ans&er is that it is universal #ecause it deals &ith a universal *Bedipal0 impulse! Bne can' ho&ever' ask
&hether it appeals as strongly to &omen as to men *again' @reud &as unsure a#out the Bedipus comple%
in &omen0 and' if so' &hy it appeals to them! Br' more generally' one can ask if males and females read in
the same &ay!
6ender *@eminist' and Ges#ian and 6ay0 Criticism
This last Cuestion #rings us to *en,er criticism- As &e have seen' &riting a#out literature usually seeks to
ans&er Cuestions! (istorical scholarship' for instance' tries to ans&er such Cuestions as' )hat did
2hakespeare and his contemporaries #elieve a#out ghosts1 or (o& did Victorian novelists and poets
respond to Har&in=s theory of evolution1 6ender criticism' too' asks Cuestions! It is especially concerned
&ith t&o issues' one a#out reading and one a#out &riting: Ho men and &omen read in different &ays' and
Ho they &rite in different &ays1
Feminist criticism can #e traced #ack to the &ork of Virginia )oolf *+;;4/+,5+0' #ut chiefly it gre&
out of the &omen=s movement of the +,8-s! The &omen=s movement at first tended to hold that &omen
are pretty much the same as men and therefore should #e treated eCually' #ut much recent feminist
criticism has emphasi?ed and e%plored the differences #et&een &omen and men! $ecause the e%periences
of the se%es are different' the argument goes' the values and sensi#ilities are different' and their responses
to literature are different! @urther' literature &ritten #y &omen is different from literature &ritten #y men!
)orks &ritten #y &omen are seen #y some feminist critics as em#odying the e%periences of a minority
culture9a group marginali?ed #y the dominant male culture! *If you have read Charlotte Perkins
6ilman=s The :ello& )allpaper" or 2usan 6laspell=s Trifles, you=ll recall that these literary &orks
themselves are largely concerned a#out the differing &ays in &hich men and &omen perceive the &orld!0
Not all &omen are feminist critics' and not all feminist critics are &omen! @urther' there are varieties of
feminist criticism! @or a good introduction see The 3ew )eminist Criticism5 1ssays on .omen, 2iterature,
and Theory *+,;50' edited #y Dlaine 2ho&alter! @or the role of men in feminist criticism' see 1n#enderin#
Men *+,,-0' edited #y Foseph A! $oone and 7ichael Cadden *+,,-0! At this point it should also #e said
that some theorists' &ho hold that identity is socially constructed' strongly dispute the value of
esta#lishing essentialist" categories such as heterose*ual, #ay, and les&ian9a point that &e &ill consider
in a moment!
@eminist critics rightly point out that men have esta#lished the conventions of literature and that men
have esta#lished the canon9that is' the #ody of literature that is said to #e &orth reading! 2peaking a #it
#roadly' in this patriarchal or male3dominated #ody of literature' men are valued for #eing strong and
active' &hereas &omen are e%pected to #e &eak and passive! Thus' in the &orld of fairy tales' the
admira#le male is the energetic hero *Fack' the 6iant3Iiller0 #ut the admira#le female is the passive
2leeping $eauty! Active &omen such as the &icked stepmother or9a disguised form of the same thing9
the &itch are generally villainous! *There are of course e%ceptions' such as 6retel' in (ansel and
6retel!"0 A &oman hearing or reading the story of 2leeping $eauty or of Gittle Eed Eiding (ood *rescued
#y the po&erful &oodcutter0 or any other &ork in &hich &omen seem to #e triviali?ed &ill respond
differently from a man! @or instance' a &oman may #e socially conditioned into admiring 2leeping $eauty'
#ut only at great cost to her mental &ell3#eing! A more resistant female reader may recogni?e in herself no
kinship &ith the #eautiful' passive 2leeping $eauty and may respond to the story indignantly! Another &ay
to put it is this: The male reader perceives a romantic story' #ut the resistant female reader perceives a
story of oppression!
@or discussions of the &ays in &hich' it is argued' &omen ou#ht to read' you may &ant to look at
"ender and Readin# *+,;80' edited #y Dli?a#eth A! @lynn and Patrocinio 2ch&eickart' and especially at
Fudith @etterley=s #ook The Resistin# Reader *+,.;0! @etterley=s point' #riefly' is that &omen should resist
the meanings *that is' the visions of ho& &omen ought to #ehave0 that male authors9or female authors
&ho have inherited patriarchal values9#ury in their #ooks! To read the canon of &hat is currently
considered classic American literature is perforce to identify as male'" @etterley says! It insists on its
universality in specifically male terms!" @etterley argues that a &oman must read as a &oman' e%orcising
the male mind that has #een implanted in &omen!" In resisting the o#vious meanings9for instance' the
false claim that male values are universal values9&omen may discover more significant meanings!
@etterley argues that @aulkner=s A Eose for Dmily"
is a story not of a conflict #et&een the 2outh and the North or #et&een the old order and the ne&<
it is a story of the patriarchy North and 2outh' ne& and old' and of the se%ual conflict &ithin it!
As @aulkner himself has implied' it is a story of a &oman victimi?ed and #etrayed #y the system
of se%ual politics' &ho nevertheless has discovered' &ithin the structures that victimi?e her'
sources of po&er for herself! ! ! ! A Eose for Dmily" is the story of ho& to murder your
gentleman caller and get a&ay &ith it! *35/350
@etterley goes on to state that society made Dmily a lady"9society dehumani?ed her #y elevating her!
Dmily=s father' seeking to shape her life' stood in the door&ay of their house and drove a&ay her suitors!
2o far as he &as concerned' Dmily &as a nonperson' a creature &hose o&n &ishes &ere not to #e
regarded< he alone &ould shape her future! $ecause society *#eginning &ith her father0 made her a
lady"9a creature so elevated that she is not taken seriously as a passionate human #eing9she is a#le to
kill (omer $arron and not #e suspected! (ere is @etterley speaking of the passage in &hich the
to&nspeople cro&d into her house &hen her death #ecomes kno&n:
)hen the &ould3#e suitors" finally get into her father=s house' they discover the conseCuences
of his oppression of her' for the violence contained in the rotted corpse of (omer $arron is the
mirror image of the violence represented in the ta#leau' the #ack3flung front door flung #ack &ith
a vengeance! *540
@eminist criticism has #een concerned not only &ith the depiction of &omen and men in a male3
determined literary canon and &ith female responses to these images #ut also &ith yet another topic:
&omen=s &riting! )omen have had fe&er opportunities than men to #ecome &riters of fiction' poetry' and
drama9for one thing' they have #een less &ell educated in the things that the male patriarchy valued9
#ut even &hen they have managed to &rite' men sometimes have neglected their &ork simply #ecause it
had #een &ritten #y a &oman! @eminists have further argued that certain forms of &riting have #een
especially the province of &omen9for instance' >ournals' diaries' and letters< and predicta#ly' these forms
have not #een given adeCuate space in the traditional' male3oriented canon!
In +,.4' in an essay titled )hen )e Head A&aken: )riting as EeVision'" the poet and essayist
Adrienne Eich effectively summed up the matter:
A radical critiCue of literature' feminist in its impulse' &ould take the &ork first of all as a clue to
ho& &e live' ho& &e have #een living' ho& &e have #een led to imagine ourselves' ho& our
language has trapped as &ell as li#erated us< and ho& &e can #egin to see9and therefore live9
afresh! ! ! ! )e need to kno& the &riting of the past and kno& it differently than &e have ever
kno&n it< not to pass on a tradition #ut to #reak its hold over us!
7uch feminist criticism concerned &ith &omen &riters has emphasi?ed connections #et&een the
&riter=s #iography and her art! 2u?anne Fuhas?' in her introduction to )eminist Critics Read 1mily
Dic(inson *+,;30' puts it this &ay:
The central assumption of feminist criticism is that gender informs the nature of art' the nature of
#iography' and the relation #et&een them! Hickinson is a &oman poet' and this fact is integral to
her identity! @eminist criticism=s sensitivity to the components of female e%perience in general
and to Hickinson=s identity as a &oman generates essential insights a#out her! ! ! ! Attention to
the relationship #et&een #iography and art is a reCuisite of feminist criticism! To disregard it
further strengthens those divisions continually created #y traditional criticism' so that nothing
a#out the &oman &riter can #e seen &hole! *+/50
Les.ian an, *a criticism have their roots in feminist criticism< feminist criticism introduced many
of the Cuestions that these other' ne&er developments are no& e%ploring!
In +,.,' in a #ook called !n 2ies, Secrets, and Silence, Adrienne Eich reprinted a +,.5 essay on
Dmily Hickinson' Vesuvius at (ome!" In her ne& preface to the reprinted essay she said that a les#ian3
feminist reading of Hickinson &ould not have to prove that Hickinson slept &ith another &oman! Eather'
les#ian3feminist criticism &ill ask Cuestions hitherto passed over< it &ill not search o#sessively for
heterose%ual romance as the key to a &oman artist=s life and &ork" *+5./+5;0! B#viously such a
statement is also relevant to a male artist=s life and &ork! It should #e mentioned' too' that Eich=s
comments on les#ian reading and les#ianism as an image of creativity have #een much discussed! @or a
#rief survey' see 7arilyn E! @ar&ell' To&ard a Hefinition of the Ges#ian Giterary Imagination'" Si#ns +5
*+,;;0: +--/++;!
$efore turning to some of the Cuestions that les#ian and gay critics address' it is necessary first to say
that les#ian criticism and gay criticism are not9to use a &ord no& current in much criticism9
symmetrical' chiefly #ecause les#ian and gay relationships themselves are not symmetrical! 2traight
society has traditionally #een more tolerant of9or #linder to9les#ianism than to male homose%uality!
@urther' les#ian literary theory has tended to see its affinities more &ith feminist theory than &ith gay
theory< the emphasis has #een on gender *maleNfemale0 rather than on se%uality
*homose%ualityN#ise%ualityNheterose%uality0! Bn the other hand' some gays and les#ians have #een &riting
&hat is no& #eing called 6ueer Theory-
No& for some of the Cuestions that this criticism addresses: *+0 Ho les#ians and gays read in &ays
that differ from the &ays straight people read1 *40 Ho they &rite in &ays that differ from those of straight
people1 *6regory )oods argues in 2es&ian and "ay .ritin#5 0n 0ntholo#y of Critical 1ssays L+,,-M'
edited #y 7ark Gilly' that modern gay poets ! ! ! use ! ! ! parado%' as &eapon and shield' against a &orld
in &hich heterose%uality is taken for granted as #eing e%clusively natural and healthy" L+.8M! Another
critic' Feffrey 7eyers' &riting in Journal of 1n#lish and "ermanic hilolo#y ;; L+,;,M: +48/4,' in an
unsympathetic revie& of a #ook on gay &riters contrasts gay &riters of the past &ith those of the present!
According to 7eyers' closeted homose%uals in the past' &riting out of guilt and pain' produced a
distinctive literature that is more interesting than the productions of today=s uncloseted &riters!0 *30 (o&
have straight &riters portrayed les#ians and gays' and ho& have les#ian and gay &riters portrayed straight
&omen and men1 *50 )hat strategies did les#ian and gay &riters use to make their &ork accepta#le to a
general pu#lic in an age &hen les#ian and gay #ehavior &as unmentiona#le1
Auestions such as these have stimulated critical &riting especially a#out #ise%ual and les#ian and gay
authors *for instance' Virginia )oolf' 6ertrude 2tein' Dli?a#eth $ishop' )alt )hitman' Bscar )ilde' D!
7! @orster' (art Crane' Tennessee )illiams0' #ut they have also led to interesting &riting on such a topic
as Nathaniel (a&thorne=s attitudes to&ard &omen! An account of (a&thorne=s misogyny that takes no
account of his o&n and his culture=s gender an%ieties'" Eo#ert I! 7artin says in $oone and Cadden=s
1n#enderin# Men, is necessarily inadeCuate" *+440!
2hakespeare=s &ork9and not only the sonnets' &hich praise a #eautiful male friend9has stimulated
a fair amount of gay criticism! 7uch of this criticism consists of decoding" aspects of the plays! 2eymour
Ilein#erg argues' in 1ssays on "ay 2iterature *+,;50' ed! 2tuart Iellogg' that Antonio in The Merchant
of 7enice, &hose melancholy is not made clear #y 2hakespeare' is melancholy #ecause *again' this is
according to Ilein#erg0 Antonio=s lover' $assanio' is deserting him' and #ecause Antonio is ashamed of
his o&n se%uality:
Antonio is a virulently anti32emitic homose%ual and is melancholic to the point of despair
#ecause his lover' $assanio' &ishes to marry an immensely rich aristocratic #eauty' to leave the
diversions of the Eialto to return to his o&n class and to se%ual conventionality! Antonio is also in
despair #ecause he despises himself for his homose%uality' &hich is romantic' o#sessive' and
e%clusive' and fills him &ith se%ual shame! *++30
2everal earlier critics had suggested that Antonio is a homose%ual' hopelessly pining for $assanio' #ut
Ilein#erg goes further' and argues that Antonio and $assanio are lovers' not >ust good friends' and that
Antonio=s hopeless and shameful *#ecause socially unaccepta#le0 passion for $assanio #ecomes
transformed into hatred for the Fe&' 2hylock! The play' according to Ilein#erg' is partly a#out a &orld
&here ! ! ! se%ual guilt is translated into ethnic hatred" *+450!
D%amination of matters of gender can help to illuminate literary &orks' #ut it should #e added' too'
that some9perhaps most9critics &rite also as activists' reporting their findings not only to help us to
understand and to en>oy the &orks of *say0 )hitman' #ut also to change society=s vie& of se%uality! Thus'
in Disseminatin# .hitman *+,,+0' 7ichael 7oon is impatient &ith earlier critical rhapsodies a#out
)hitman=s universalism! It used to #e said that )hitman=s cele#ration of the male #ody &as a se%less
cele#ration of #rotherly love in a democracy' #ut the gist of 7oon=s vie& is that &e must neither
&hite&ash )hitman=s poems &ith such high3minded talk' nor re>ect them as indecent< rather' &e must see
e%actly &hat )hitman is saying a#out a kind of e%perience that society had shut its eyes to' and &e must
take )hitman=s vie& seriously! 2ome&hat similarly' 6regory )oods in 0rticulate )lesh *+,;.0 points out
that until a fe& years ago discussions of (art Crane regularly condemned his homose%uality' as is evident
in G! 2! Hem#o=s characteri?ation of Crane *Cuoted #y )oods0 as uneducated' alcoholic' homose%ual'
paranoic' suicidal" *+5-0! 6ay and les#ian &riters do not adopt this sort of manner! $ut it should also #e
pointed out that today there are straight critics &ho study les#ian or gay authors and &rite a#out them
insightfully and &ithout hostility!
Bne assumption in much les#ian and gay critical &riting is that although gender greatly influences
the &ays in &hich &e read' reading is a skill that can #e learned' and therefore straight people9aided #y
les#ian and gay critics9can learn to read' &ith pleasure and profit' les#ian and gay &riters! This
assumption of course also underlies much feminist criticism' &hich often assumes that men must stop
ignoring #ooks #y &omen and must learn *&ith the help of feminist critics0 ho& to read them' and' in fact'
ho& to read9&ith ne&ly opened eyes9the se%ist &ritings of men of the past and present!
In addition to the titles mentioned earlier concerning gay and les#ian criticism' consult Dve Iosofsky
2edg&ick' 'etween Men5 1n#lish 2iterature and Male Homosocial Desire *+,;50 and an essay #y
2edg&ick' 6ender Criticism'" in Redrawin# the 'oundaries, ed! 2tephen 6reen#latt and 6iles 6unn
*+,,40!
)hile many in the field of les#ian and gay criticism have turned their energies to&ard e%amining the
effects that an author=s9or a character=s9se%ual identity may have upon the te%t' others have #egun to
Cuestion' instead' the concept of se%ual identity itself!O Hra&ing upon the &ork of the @rench social
historian 7ichel @oucault' critics such as Havid (alperin *!ne Hundred 8ears of Homose*uality and
!ther 1ssays on "ree( 2ove, L+,,-M0 and Fudith $utler *"ender Trou&le, L+,;,M0 e%plore ho& various
categories of identity' such as heterose%ual" and homose%ual'" represent &ays of defining human #eings
that are distinct to particular cultures and historical periods! These critics' affiliated &ith &hat is kno&n as
the social constructionist" school of thought' argue that the &ay a given society *modern American or
ancient 6reek0 interprets se%uality &ill determine the particular categories &ithin &hich individuals come
to understand and to name their o&n desires! @or such critics the goal of a les#ian or gay criticism is not
to define the specificity of a les#ian or gay literature or mode of interpretation' #ut to sho& ho& the
ideology *the normative understanding of a given culture0 makes it seem natural to think a#out se%uality
in terms of such identities as les#ian' gay' #ise%ual' or straight! $y challenging the authority of those
terms' or denaturali?ing" them' and #y calling attention to moments in &hich literary *and nonliterary0
representations make assumptions that reinforce the supposed inevita#ility of those distinctions' such
critics attempt to redefine our understandings of the relations #et&een se%uality and literature! They hope
to make clear that se%uality is al&ays' in a certain sense' literary"< it is a representation of a fiction that
society has constructed in order to make sense out of e%perience!
$ecause such critics have challenged the authority of the opposition #et&een heterose%uality and
homose%uality' and have read it as a historical construct rather than as a #iological or psychological
a#solute' they have sometimes resisted the very terms les&ian and #ay- 7any no& em#race &hat is called
Aueer Theory as an attempt to mark their resistance to the categories of identity they see our culture as
imposing upon us!
)orks &ritten &ithin this mode of criticism are often influenced #y deconstructionist or
psychoanalytic thought! They e%amine &orks #y straight authors as freCuently as they do &orks #y &riters
&ho might #e defined as les#ian or gay! Dve Iosofsky 2edg&ick=s reading of 'illy 'udd in her #ook
1pistemolo#y of the Closet *+,,-0 provides a good e%ample of this sort of criticism! Eeading Claggart as
the homose%ual" in the te%t of 7elville=s novella' 2edg&ick is not interested in defining his difference
from other characters! Instead' she sho&s ho& the novella sets up a large num#er of oppositions9such as
pu#lic and private' sincerity and sentimentality' health and illness9all of &hich have a relationship to the
&ay in &hich a distinct gay" identity &as #eing produced #y American society at the end of the
nineteenth century! Bther critics &hose &ork in this field may #e useful for students of literature are H! A!
7iller' The 3ovel and the olice *+,;;0< Hiana @uss' 1ssentially Spea(in# *+,;,0 and $den/tification
apers *+,,50< Fudith $utler' 'odies That Matter *+,,30< and Gee Ddelman' Homo#raphesis5 1ssays in
"ay 2iterary and Cultural Theory *+,,30!
!!!
This chapter #egan #y making the o#vious point that all readers' &hether or not they consciously
adopt a particular approach to literature' necessarily read through particular lenses! 7ore precisely' a
reader #egins &ith a frame of interpretation9historical' psychological' sociological' or &hatever9and
from &ithin the frame a reader selects one of the several competing methodologies! Critics often make
great9even grandiose9claims for their approaches! @or e%ample' @rederic Fameson' a 7ar%ist' #egins
The olitical 4nconscious5 3arrative as a Socially Sym&olic 0ct *+,;+0 thus:
This #ook &ill argue the priority of the political interpretation of literary te%ts! It conceives of the
political perspective not as some supplemental method' not as an optional au%iliary to other
interpretive methods current today9the psychoanalytic or the myth3critical' the stylistic' the
ethical' the structural9#ut rather as the a#solute hori?on of all reading and all interpretation! *.0
Eeaders &ho are chiefly interested in politics may #e &illing to assume the priority of the political
interpretation ! ! ! as the a#solute hori?on of all reading and all interpretation'" #ut other readers may
respectfully decline to accept this assumption!
In talking a#out a critical approach' it is sometimes said that readers decode a te%t #y applying a grid
to it< the grid ena#les them to see certain things clearly! 6ood< #ut &hat is sometimes forgotten is that
*since there is no such thing as a free lunch0 a lens or a grid9an angle of vision or interpretive frame and
a methodology9also prevents a reader from seeing certain other things! This is to #e e%pected! )hat is
important' then' is to remem#er this fact' and thus not to deceive ourselves #y thinking that our keen tools
ena#le us to see the &hole! A psychoanalytic reading of' say' Hamlet, may #e helpful' #ut it does not reveal
all that is in Hamlet, and it does not refute the perceptions of another approach' let=s say a historical study!
Dach approach may illuminate aspects neglected #y others!
It is too much to e%pect a reader to apply all useful methods *or even several0 at once9that &ould #e
rather like looking through a telescope &ith one eye and through a microscope &ith the other9#ut it is
not too much to e%pect readers to #e a&are of the limitations of their methods! If one reads much
criticism' one finds t&o kinds of critics! There are' on the one hand' critics &ho methodically and
mechanically peer through a lens or grid' and they find &hat one can easily predict they &ill find! Bn the
other hand' there are critics &ho *despite &hat may #e inevita#le class and gender #iases0 are at least
relatively open3minded in their approach9critics &ho' one might say' do not at the outset of their reading
#elieve that their method assures them that *so to speak0 they have got the te%t=s num#er and that #y
means of this method they &ill e%pose the te%t for &hat it is! The philosopher Eichard Eorty engagingly
makes a distinction some&hat along these lines' in an essay he contri#uted to Km#erto Dco=s
$nterpretation and !verinterpretation *+,,40! There is a great difference' Eorty suggests'
#et&een kno&ing &hat you &ant to get out of a person or thing or te%t in advance and Lon the
other handM hoping that the person or thing or te%t &ill help you &ant something different9that
he or she or it &ill help you to change your purposes' and thus to change your life! This
distinction' I think' helps us highlight the difference #et&een methodical and inspired readings of
te%ts! *+-80
Eorty goes on to say he has seen an anthology of readings on Conrad=s Heart of Dar(ness, containing a
psychoanalytic reading' a reader3response reading' and so on! None of the readers had' as far as I could
see'" Eorty says'
#een enraptured or desta#ili?ed #y Heart of Dar(ness- I got no sense that the #ook had made a
#ig difference to them' that they cared much a#out Iurt? or 7arlo& or the &oman &ith
helmeted head and ta&ny cheeks" &hom 7arlo& sees on the #ank of the river! These people' and
that #ook' had no more changed these readers= purposes than the specimen under the microscope
changes the purpose of the histologist! *+-.0
The kind of criticism that Eorty prefers he calls unmethodical" criticism and inspired" criticism! It
is' for Eorty' the result of an encounter" &ith some aspect of a &ork of art &hich has made a difference
to the critic=s conception of &ho she is' &hat she is good for' &hat she &ants to do &ith herself ! ! !" *+-.0!
This is not a matter of respect" for the te%t' Eorty insists! Eather' he says' love" and hate" are #etter
&ords' @or a great love or a great loathing is the sort of thing that changes us #y changing our purposes'
changing the uses to &hich &e shall put people and things and te%ts &e encounter later" *+-.0!
S#++ESTIONS FOR F#RTHER REA"IN+
$ecause a massive list of titles may prove discouraging rather than helpful' it seems advisa#le here to give
a short list of #asic titles! *Titles already mentioned in this chapter9&hich are good places to #egin9are
not repeated in the follo&ing list!0
A good sampling of contemporary criticism *8- or so essays or chapters from #ooks0' representing all
of the types discussed in this commentary e%cept les#ian and gay criticism' can #e found in The Critical
Tradition5 Classic Te*ts and Contemporary Trends, 4nd ed!' Havid (! Eichter *+,,;0!
@or a reada#le introduction to various approaches' &ritten for students &ho are #eginning the study of
literary theory' see 2teven Gynn' Te*ts and Conte*ts *+,,50! @or a more advanced survey' that is' a &ork
that assumes some familiarity &ith the material' see a short #ook #y I! 7! Ne&ton' $nterpretin# the Te*t5
0 Critical $ntroduction to the Theory and ractice of 2iterary $nterpretation *+,,-0! A third survey'
though considera#ly longer than the #ooks #y Gynn and Ne&ton' is narro&er #ecause it confines itself to a
study of critical &ritings a#out 2hakespeare: $rian Vickers' 0ppropriatin# Sha(espeare5 Contemporary
Critical 6uarrels *+,,30' offers an astringent appraisal of deconstruction' Ne& (istoricism'
psychoanalytic criticism' feminist criticism' and 7ar%ist criticism! @or a collection of essays on
2hakespeare &ritten from some of the vie&points that Vickers deplores' see Fohn Hrakakis' ed!'
Sha(espearean Tra#edy *+,,40!
2ympathetic discussions *usually t&o or three pages long0 of each approach' &ith fairly e%tensive
#i#liographic suggestions' are given in the appropriate articles in three encyclopedic &orks! )endell V!
(arris' Dictionary of Concepts in 2iterary Criticism and Theory *+,,40' devotes several pages to each
concept *for instance' author, conte*t, evaluation, feminist literary criticism, narrative0 and gives a useful
reading list for each entry! @airly similar to (arris=s #ook are Irene 7akaryk' ed!' 1ncyclopedia of
Contemporary 2iterary Theory5 0pproaches, Scholars, Terms *+,,30' and 7ichael 6roden' 7artin
Ireis&irth' and Imre 2?eman *eds!0' The Johns Hop(ins "uide to 2iterary Theory and Criticism, 4nd ed!
*4--50! The Johns Hop(ins "uide, though it includes su#stantial entries on individual critics as &ell as on
critical schools' is occasionally disappointing in the reada#ility of some of its essays and especially in its
coverage' since it does not include critical terms other than names of schools of criticism! Hespite its title'
then' it does not have entries for theory or for criticism, nor does it have entries for such &ords as canon
and evaluation- In coverage *and also in the Cuality of many entries0 it is inferior to an e%tremely valua#le
&ork &ith a misleading narro& title' The 3ew rinceton 1ncyclopedia of oetry and oetics, edited #y
Ale% Preminger and T! V! @! $rogan *+,,30! Although The 3ew rinceton 1ncyclopedia does not include
terms that are uniCue to' say' drama or fiction' it does include generous' lucid entries *&ith suggestions for
further reading0 on such terms as alle#ory, criticism, canon, irony, sincerity, theory, and unity, and the
long entries on poetrics, poetry, and poetry, theories of, are in many respects entries on literature-
@or a collection of essays on the canon' see Canons, edited #y Eo#ert von (all#erg *+,;50< see also an
essay #y Eo#ert 2choles' Canonicity and Te%tuality'" in $ntroduction to Scholarship in Modern
2an#ua#es and 2iteratures, edited #y Foseph 6i#aldi *4nd ed!' +,,40' +3;/5;! 6i#aldi=s collection
includes essays on related topics' for instance' literary theory *#y Fonathan Culler0 and cultural studies *#y
Havid $athrick0!
Formalist Criticism (T(e Ne! Criticism)
Cleanth $rooks' The .ell .rou#ht 4rn5 Studies in the Structure of oetry *+,5.0' especially Chapters +
and ++ *The Ganguage of Parado%" and The (eresy of Paraphrase"0< )! I! )imsatt' The 7er&al $con
*+,550' especially The Intentional @allacy" and The Affective @allacy"< 7urray Irieger' The 3ew
0polo#ists for oetry *+,580< and' for an accurate overvie& of a kind of criticism often misrepresented
today' Chapters ,/+4 in Volume 8 of EenP )ellek' 0 History of Modern Criticism5 9:;<=9>;< *+,;80!
"econstr$ction
Christopher Norris' Deconstruction5 Theory and ractice, rev! ed! *+,,+0< Vincent $! Geitch'
Deconstructive Criticism5 0n 0dvanced $ntroduction and Survey *+,;30< Christopher Norris' ed!' .hat $s
Deconstruction+ *+,;;0< Christopher Norris and Andre& $en>amin' Deconstruction and the $nterests of
Theory *+,;,0! @or a negative assessment' consult Fohn 7! Dllis' 0#ainst Deconstruction *+,;,0! 7ore
generally' see Deconstruction5 0 Reader, ed! 7artin 7cAuillan *4--+0 and Critical Concepts in 2iterary
and Cultural Studies, ed! Fonathan Culler' 5 vols! *4--30!
Rea,er&Response Criticism
)olfgang Iser' The 0ct of Readin#5 0 Theory of 0esthetic Response *+,.;0< )olfgang Iser' rospectin#5
)rom Reader Response to 2iterary 0nthropolo#y *+,,30< 2usan 2uleiman and Inge Crossman' eds!' The
Reader in the Te*t *+,;-0< Fane P! Tompkins' ed!' Reader/Response Criticism *+,;-0< Norman N! (olland'
The Dynamics of 2iterary Response *+,.3' +,;,0< 2teven 7aillou%' $nterpretive Conventions5 The
Reader in the Study of 0merican )iction *+,;40< 6erry $renner' erformative Criticism5 1*periments in
Reader Response *4--50!
Arc(etpal (or Mt() Criticism
6! )ilson Inight' The Starlit Dome *+,5+0< Eichard Chase' 6uest for Myth *+,5,0< 7urray Irieger' ed!'
3orthrop )rye in Modern Criticism *+,880< @rank Gentricchia' 0fter the 3ew Criticism *+,;-0! @or a good
survey of @rye=s approach' see Eo#ert H! Henham' 3orthrop )rye and Critical Method *+,.;0! Also'
Rereadin# )rye5 The u&lished and 4npu&lished .or(s, ed! Havid $oyd and Imre 2alusins?ky *+,,,0!
Historical Criticism
@or a #rief survey of some historical criticism of the first half of the t&entieth century' see EenP )ellek' 0
History of Modern Criticism5 9:;<=9>;<, Volume 8 *+,;80' Chapter 5 *Academic Criticism"0! 2ee also
D! 7! )! Tillyard' The 1li?a&ethan .orld icture *+,530' and Tillyard=s Sha(espeares History lays
*+,550' #oth of &hich relate Dli?a#ethan literature to the #eliefs of the age and are good e%amples of the
historical approach! Also of interest is Havid Gevin' )orms of 4ncertainty5 1ssays in Historical Criticism
*+,,40!
Marxist Criticism
Eaymond )illiams' Mar*ism and 2iterature *+,..0< Tony $ennett' )ormalism and Mar*ism *+,.,0< Gydia
2argent' ed!' .omen and Revolution5 0 Discussion of the 4nhappy Marria#e of Mar*ism and )eminism
*+,;+0< and for a #rief survey of American 7ar%ist &riters of the +,3-s and +,5-s' see Chapter 5 of
Volume 8 of EenP )ellek' 0 History of Modern Criticism *+,;80! Also helpful are Haniel Aaron' .riters
on the 2eft5 1pisodes in 0merican 2iterary Communism *+,8+< ne& ed!' +,,40< and $ar#ara @oley'
Radical Representations5 olitics and )orm in 4-S- roletarian )iction, 9>@>=9>A9 *+,,30! Also
stimulating are Terry Dagleton' The $deolo#y of the 0esthetic *+,,-0 and Mar*ist Sha(espeares, ed! Fean
D! (o&ard and 2cott Cutler 2hersho& *4--+0!
Ne! Historicism
Historici?in# Theory, ed! Peter C! (erman *4--50< 2tephen 6reen#latt' Renaissance Self/)ashionin# from
More to Sha(espeare *+,;-0' especially the first chapter< $rook Thomas' The 3ew Historicism and !ther
!ld/)ashioned Topics *+,,+0! 6reen#latt=s other influential #ooks include Sha(espearean 3e#otiations5
The Circulation of Social 1ner#y in Renaissance 1n#land *+,;;0' and' &ith Catherine 6allagher'
racticin# 3ew Historicism *4---0!
)io*rap(ical Criticism
Geon Ddel' 2iterary 'io#raphy *+,5.0< Dstelle C! Fellinek' ed!' .omens 0uto&io#raphy5 1ssays in
Criticism *+,;-0< Fames Blney' Metaphors of Self5 The Meanin# of 0uto&io#raphy *+,;+0< and .omen,
0uto&io#raphy, Theory5 0 Reader, ed! 2idonie 2mith and Fulia )atson! Important t&entieth3century
literary #iographers are Eichard Dllmann' James Joyce *+,5,' rev! ed!' +,;40< Fuliet $arker' The 'rontBs
*+,,50< (ermione Gee' 7ir#inia .oolf *+,,.0< Gyndall 6ordon' T- S- 1liot5 0n $mperfect 2ife *+,,,0< and
@red Iaplan' The Sin#ular Mar( Twain5 0 'io#raphy *4--30!
Psc(olo*ical (or Psc(oanaltic) Criticism
Ddith Iur?&eil and )illiam Phillips' eds!' 2iterature and sychoanalysis *+,;30< 7aurice Charney and
Foseph Eeppen' eds!' sychoanalytic 0pproaches to 2iterature and )ilm *+,;.0< 7adelon 2prengnether'
The Spectral Mother5 )reud, )eminism, and sychoanalysis *+,,-0< @rederick Cre&s' !ut of My System
*+,.50< and 6raham @rankland' )reuds 2iterary Culture *4---0!
+en,er (Feminist% an, Les.ian an, +a) Criticism
6ayle 6reene and CoppQlia Iahn' eds!' Ma(in# a Difference5 )eminist 2iterary Criticism *+,;50'
including an essay #y $onnie Rimmerman on les#ian criticism< Catherine $elsey and Fane 7oore' eds!'
The )eminist Reader5 1ssays in "ender and the olitics of 2iterary Criticism *+,;,0< Toril 7oi' ed!'
)rench )eminist Thou#ht *+,;.0< Dli?a#eth A! @lynn and Patrocinio P! 2ch&eikart' eds!' "ender and
Readin#5 1ssays on Readers, Te*ts, and Conte*ts *+,;80< $ar#ara Christian' 'lac( )eminist Criticism5
erspectives on 'lac( .omen .riters *+,;50< 2hoshana @elman' .hat Does a .oman .ant+ Readin#
and Se*ual Difference *+,,30< Eo#ert 7artin' The Homose*ual Tradition in 0merican oetry *+,.,0<
Iathryn E! Ient' Ma(in# "irls into .omen5 0merican .omens .ritin# and the Rise of 2es&ian $dentity
*4--30< and Eita @elski' 2iterature 0fter )eminism *4--30! (enry A#elove et al!' eds!' The 2es&ian and
"ay Studies Reader *+,,30' has only a fe& essays concerning literature' #ut it has an e%tensive
#i#liography on the topic!
Valua#le reference &orks include 1ncyclopedia of )eminist 2iterary Theory *+,,.0' ed! $eth
Io&aleski3)allace< The "ay C 2es&ian 2iterary Companion, ed! 2haron 7alino&ski and Christa $relin
*+,,50< and The "ay and 2es&ian 2iterary Herita#e5 0 Readers Companion to the .riters and Their
.or(s, from 0ntiDuity to the resent, ed! Claude F! 2ummers *+,,50! 2ee also 2ummers' "ay )ictions5
.ilde to Stonewall5 Studies in a Male Homose*ual 2iterary Tradition *+,,-0< 3ovel "a?in#5 6ueer
Readin#s in )iction, ed! Dve Iosofsky 2edg&ick *+,,.0< and 6regory )oods' 0 History of "ay
2iterature5 The Male Tradition *+,,;0! @or further discussion of Aueer Theory' see Annamarie Fagose'
6ueer Theory5 0n $ntroduction *+,,80< Alan 2infield' Cultural oliticsE6ueer Readin# *+,,50< and
)eminism Meets 6ueer Theory *+,,.0' ed! Dli?a#eth )eed and Naomi 2chor!
Chapter 35 N Critical Approaches: The Nature of Criticism
@ormalist *or Ne&0 Criticism
Chapter 35 N Critical Approaches: The Nature of Criticism
Eeader3Eesponse Criticism
Chapter 35 N Critical Approaches: The Nature of Criticism
Eeader3Eesponse Criticism
Chapter 35 N Critical Approaches: The Nature of Criticism
(istorical 2cholarship
Chapter 35 N Critical Approaches: The Nature of Criticism
(istorical 2cholarship
Chapter 35 N Critical Approaches: The Nature of Criticism
6ender *@eminist' and Ges#ian and 6ay0 Criticism
Chapter 35 N Critical Approaches: The Nature of Criticism
6ender *@eminist' and Ges#ian and 6ay0 Criticism
Chapter 35 N Critical Approaches: The Nature of Criticism
6ender *@eminist' and Ges#ian and 6ay0 Criticism
Chapter 35 N Critical Approaches: The Nature of Criticism
OThis paragraph and the ne%t t&o are #y Gee Ddelman of Tufts Kniversity!
6ender *@eminist' and Ges#ian and 6ay0 Criticism
Chapter 35 N Critical Approaches: The Nature of Criticism
2uggestions for @urther Eeading
Chapter 35 N Critical Approaches: The Nature of Criticism
2uggestions for @urther Eeading