Welcome to LIT 300 - Lit Theory

Discovering what literature actually means

Why are we here?

Simply, art mimics life. Literature is a written form of art. Novels, poems, and other text are uniquely created by authors, the society they lived, and the relationships held with others. Weaving these elements into story form, a work of art is produced that mimics their thoughts, feelings, society, and their surroundings.

A unique document is produced. For us, this means we can trace the evolution of race, gender, linguistics, and unconscious elements. The analysis and evaluation of the various traits provides an opportunity for us to look inward and see how these elements influence us - every day. We gain the ability to reflect upon current media, rather it be television shows or novels, to understand our society and culture are influenced by the same elements and, in turn, make us who we are.

Week 1 - New Criticism or Russian Formalism

New Criticism -
This theory argues that how literature makes a reader - feel - is irrelevant. Emotion is an element that is subjective and changes throughout the day, week, and lifetime. Since it changes, feelings do not hold value.

Rather, literary features such as paradox, irony, and ambiguity are they keys to analysis. These features could be discovered only through a “close reading” of the text. Close reading meant line-by-line and word-by-word analysis that screened out the author’s intention and the reader’s response to see the internal coherence of the work itself.

Russian Formalism -
A close cousin to New Criticism, Russian Formalism highlight a scientific method of analysis. Discounting historical and psychological influences, the focus is placed upon features that distinguish literature from other human activities. Russian Formalism also presses literary facts are prioritized over the metaphysical commitments of literary criticism, whether philosophical, aesthetic or psychological.

Student Forward Thinking

The Research/Writing link to the left holds a wealth of information that will assist in any course.
-- Take time now to explore the Shapiro Library, citation tools, and composition guides. Knowing your resources and how to access them provides security and heightens comprehension.

Assignments and tasks

  • Become engaged in 1-1 Discussion: Theory in Everyday Life: New Criticism and Formalism

** Please remember initial posts for weeks 1 to 7 must be completed
by Thursdays.

  • Express yourself in 1-2 Journal: Finding Meaning in Form

  • Prepare for the future and review the Final Project I Guidelines and Rubric and Final Project II Guidelines and Rubric documents in the Assignment Guidelines and Rubrics folder.


** Remember to check rubrics for additional information and grading
criteria. Assignments are always due on Sunday, unless otherwise noted.

6. The New Criticism and Other Western Formalisms
7. Russian Formalism