- the general term used to describe the most traditional and "common sense" approach to the study of literature
- "liberal" because it claims to be free of any particular social or political viewpoint for interpretation (a literary text can be understood alone)
- "humanism" because it assumes there is a common and unchanging human nature that is relevant to all people (regardless of time/place)
- language is an accurate way of recording reality and experience
- all people share a common human nature with common human values that are essential/unchanging
- a literary text enriches our lives and promotes universal human values
- a literary text does not require prior knowledge of historical context, literary context or author biography to understand its independant intention
- the political philosophy out of which ideas of communism were derived.
- criticises individualistic aquisition of material resources (i.e capitalism)
- promotes a classless society based on shared ownership and social responsibility
Some key ideas:
- bourgeois - the higher classes of society that own the means to production
- proletariat - the lower classes that operate the means of production
- class struggle - those who own resources and industry exploit and abuse those who operate the functioning of resources and industry
- reification - the dehumanisation of human beings into human resources
- ideology - the cultural values promoted by a given society
- hegemony - the social situation in which an ideology is made so prevelant that it feels "normal" and "natural" when it is actually created and controlled by social powers
- a form of psychotherapy that aims to cure mental disorders by investigating the interaction of the conscious mind with the unconscious mind.
Some key ideas include:
- the conscious mind - our aware, calculating, decision making selves with which we attempt to control our lives
- the unconcious mind - our instinctual, emotional, animal selves of which we are not fully aware and which actually controls our lives
- repression - moving unresolved issues from the conscious mind to the unconscious
- projection - a form of repression wherein one attributes aspects of one's own personality onto someone else
- displacement - a form of repression wherein one substitutes a person, object or event with something symbolically similar
- the social and political perspective that explores issues of women's historical inequality in the majority of human cultures.
Some key ideas:
- female/male - a biological designation defined by genetics and morphology
- feminine/masculine - or gender - a cultural designation created and reinforced by society through conditioning or socialisation
- patriarchy - "father-rule" - the term used to describe social and political systems that are dominated by the logic and attitudes of men
- phallocentrism - the thinking process by which patriarchy is established and reinforced. Phallus = symbol of power and influence
Gay and Lesbian Criticism (Queer Theory)
- centralises sexual orientation as a fundamental category of analysis and is a direct response to the ideological and institutional attitudes of heterosexual normality and privilege.
Some key ideas:
- sexuality - like gender, is a social construct and can be shaped and altered by culture and personal experience. It is also a spectrum far more complex that the simple binary of homosexual versus heterosexual.
- the belief that things cannot be understood in isolation and can only be understood within the contexts of the larger systems or structures of which they are a part of
- the meaning of a word cannot be defined in isolation and is categorised by that word's relationship with other words and the rules of language in which it belongs
- the meaning of a word is established by usage and convention
- ultimately, our use and commitment to language constitutes and shapes our experiences and provides a common structure for understanding reality