Literary criticism is the study, interpretation, and analysis of a work of literature and of its author's place in literary history. Literary theory (e.g., feminist, narrative, etc.) often informs the critical analysis of a literary work. Criticism may examine a particular literary work, or may look at an author's writings as a whole.
Important Literary Concepts
|The Basics||Other Key Concepts|
What is an Analysis?
|An analysis of a literary work may discuss:|
Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism Introduction
A very basic way of thinking about literary theory is that these ideas act as different lenses critics use to view and talk about art, literature, and even culture. These different lenses allow critics to consider works of art based on certain assumptions within that school of theory. The different lenses also allow critics to focus on particular aspects of a work they consider important. For example, if a critic is working with post-colonial theories, they might consider the same story but look at how characters from colonial powers (Britain, France, and even America) treat characters from, say, Africa or the Caribbean.
Moral Criticism, Dramatic Construction (c. 360 BC-present)
Formalism, Neo-Aristotelian Criticism (1930s-present)
Psychoanalytic Criticism (1930s-present)
Marxist Criticism (1930s-present)
Reader-Response Criticism (1960s-present)
New Historicism/Cultural Studies (1980s-present)
Post-Colonial Criticism (1990s-present)
Feminist Criticism (1960s-present)
Gender/Queer Studies (1970s-present)
Please view Descriptions of the Different Schools of Criticism for detailed information.