Introduction and Course overview Part A – Literary Theory and Literary Criticism


welcome friends to this very first lecture
for the course literary theory and literary criticism i am your instructor professor aysha
iqbal vishwamohan um and we will be meeting regularly for this course that you are going
to certificate for um before we go any further into this course i just wanted to give you
ah very good introduction to the course what does this course deal well this course basically
is meant for as the website suggest for people who are from certain age who have cross certain
level and is meant for everyone so its open basically to people who have ah registered
for the course a background to ah literature is ah desirable but not absolutely necessary
so ah what i mean is that even if you come from another discipline which is not literature
based your welcome to this course i hope you won’t find it too difficult we will try to
make the course as accessible as possible so this course will be taught by me and ah
also by doctor vimal mohan john who is the co instructor for this now what does this
course entailed what are the key components i am very sure that most of you have already
gone through the website of n p t e l and you know ah what are the essential ingredients
of this course but i also thought that hm in order to ah take you farther in this course
it is essential to have a good ah and in depth understanding of what is course endears
so ah the ah basic idea to introduce this course was that we realise that the students
of literature today ah they are confronted with an array of theories and these theories
deal with our idea of domains i mean you have textuality you have language you have jones
based studies you have ah the reading process and various socio and political and also cultural
context um we also look at gender and psychology of ah a character reception of a text the
emotional effect on the readers and so on so ah we ah thought it desirable to have a
course which gives you an overview of key theories contemporary theories yes twentieth
century theories off course but ah we would commence the course by hakenberg to the times
are the greatest western thinkers um let me also tell you at this point that this is the
course in western literary theory and western literary criticism
so coming back to my earlier point ah we are going back to the times of the greatest western
thinkers plato aristotle lawn janus horace kant hegel sheller froid um also Coleridge
wordsworth pope dryden and very recent theories as well so the course is designed to facilitate
the process of ah making theories accessible to students by offering students basic get
essential information on the major western theories theorists the key thinkers and their
seminal works now let me give you an over view of ah what are going to be the major
ah topics of discussion here so for the starters you will gain familiarity with some key concepts
in literary theory and literary criticism ah for instance allegory illusion irony defamiliarization
carnival brooklyn postmodernism and its features pastiche simulation and so on ah we will also
try to talk about what is culture and i am very sure that most of you are familiar with
raymond williams and culture his theories of culture and raymond williams seminal work
culture and society ah in which he attempts to theorise culture as a whole way of life
and ah here he interprets some keywords such as industry democracy class art literature
and argued how meanings change with the passage of times this is important that very often
we find ah a word in literature meant something at the beginning and during the course of
time it ah acquires some other meaning ah going back to raymond williams in his book
the long revolution williams famously distinguishes between culture with a capital c and culture
with a lowercase case c capital c lowercase c
and ah the williams the capital c culture is high culture which is a sum total of civilizations
greatest moral and aesthetic achievements um as seen in ah in the works of f r leavis
and matthew arnold before him so um for williams the obvious agenda of having culture is to
maintain the distinction between highbrow and lowbrow in other words to maintain social
class this is something that we will be doing in ah greater detail and analyse it further
when we do the course um ah key concepts in literary theory and literary criticism now
following that we will be doing classical theory
now what is classical theory so ah we will be looking at greek and roman models of literary
criticism with an emphasis on classical qualities we will before be focusing on the literary
criticism of thinkers suggest plato aristotle horace and longinus and we will be looking
at theories of drama poetry and style the course will also look at neoclassical theory
ah which includes early modern and enlightenment think ah thinkers and writers such as philip
Sidney dryden pope samuel johnson addison and ah lock um we will be also considering
horace’s ars poetica and louis jones concepts of a concept of sublimity ah the next topic
would be romanticism we ah to begin with we will look at early nineteenth century romanticism
ah with particular reference to french and german romanticism where the key writers are
schiller and german destel also immanuel kant and hegel
so ah we’ll also look at kant’s critique of judgement this will be followed by ah an in
depth study of english and american romanticism the key writers they ah are off course ah
william wordsworth coleridge and in america we have emerson and also edgar allan poe we
look at the concepts of poetic diction fancy and imagination and we’ll also understand
the critical significance of significance of profess turical ballets and biographia
literaria now ah just to give an understanding of this movement what is romanticism so i
am sure most of you know what is romanticism it’s a literary artistic and philosophical
movement that originated in europe in the eighteenth century and lasted until the mid
nineteenth century romanticism is characterized chiefly by a
reaction against enlightenment and neoclassicism with there is stress on reason rationality
order balance etcetera romanticism on the other hand emphasise individual the subject
the spontaneous of an the visionary domestical hm ah and also the imaginative among the characteristic
ah attitudes of romanticism were a deep sense of the beauty of nature a general exultation
of emotion over reason and of the senses over intellect and romanticism was also preoccupied
with the genius the hero and a view of the i t’s as a supremely individual creator the
movement included an interest in folk culture national and ethnic cultural origins and the
mediaeval era romanticise also showed interest in the mysterious
the occult and the exotic for example ah coleridge’s kubla khan ah we must also note that the first
phase of the romantic movement in germany was marked by innovations in both content
and literary style and by a preoccupation with the mystical the subconscious and the
supernatural so this in short is what we are going to do in romanticism we’ll also move
on to late nineteenth century criticism after that ah where the defining theories were that
of realism and naturalism and the key theories are amel zolam henry james we will also look
at symbolism and aestheticism in detail with particular reference to ah charles baudelaire
and also oscar wilde we will understand what is the meaning of art for art sake and also
touch upon anal and histatone method t s eliot is also one of the key writers of
this time and we will understand his theories of objective correlative dissociation of sensibility
and impersonality of art ah we will then move on to twentieth century criticism with a specific
reference to formalism and new criticism archetypal criticism is also going to be one major area
of discussion ah i am sure you know that this is a form of literary criticism that is concerned
with the analysis of the original patterns for themes motives and characters in poetry
and prose um this approach to literature is based on the idea that narratives are structure
according to an archetype um or archetypal model and plot and character are important
in so far as they allude to a traditional slot or ah to or figure or two patterns that
have recurred with wide implications in history ah so what is an archetype you may ask so
an archetype is a primordial image character or pattern of circumstances ah that recurs
throughout literature enough to be considered universal
the term was adopted by literary critics from the writings of the psychologist carleon who
formulated the theory of the collective unconscious for young the varieties of human experience
have somehow been genetically coded and transferred to successive generations some of the very
common examples of archetypal objects are and also all archetypal creatures are the
olive branches the snake whale eagle the vulture and all these are archetypal symbols hm a
common example is the theme of initiation the passage from innocence to experience and
the quest motif at this point let me draw your attention to the seminal book ah the
golden bough by james frazer and let’s see what frazer tells us about archetype
a useful clue to the original nature of a god or goddesses is often furnished by the
season at which his or her festival is celebrated thus if the festival falls at the new or the
full moon there is a certain presumption that the deity thus on earth either is the moon
or at least has lunar affinities if the festival is held at the winter or summer solstice we
naturally surmise that the god is the son or at all events that he stands in some close
relation to that luminary again if the festival coincides with the time of sowing or harvest
we are inclined to infer that the divinity is an embodiment of the earth or of the corn
these presumptions are inferences taken by themselves are by no means conclusive but
if they happen to be confirmed by other indications the evidence may be regarded as fairly strong
now what is being discussed here the idea of seasons the universal archetype the universal
pattern of seasons so what is being described here or what is a frazer trying to tell us
here the universal pattern of festivals and seasons and here those of us who are who are
interested in understanding these kinds of ah theories they will understand they will
appreciate that ah there are archetypes that exists all around us so this theory will give
you good a indication to ah understand some of the archetypes that exist universally
the key ah writers that we will be focusing would be northrop frye and anatomy of criticism
ah joseph campbell the hero and he is a the hero with a thousand faces and also bodkin
and this archetypal patterns in poetry we look at his structuralism and start with ah
the theories of a ferdinand saucer and also ah charles peas rolabalt will be another key
theories for his structuralism and we will also consider claude levis strauss and his
mythologies the structuralism is a critical movement of the midnight twentieth century
it was based on the linguistic theories of a ferdinand the sorcerer and held that language
is a self contained system of science it was it was also based on the cultural theories
of claude levis strauss who held that cultures like languages could be viewed as systems
of science and could be analysed in terms of the structural relations among the elements
the structuralism in the seventeenth was an important phenomenon because of the publication
of a number of influential expository works by american academics including fredric jameson’s
prison house of language and jonathan colors the structuralist poetics and sasur a structuralism
help to eliminate any sense in which literature operated outside or apart from Culture by
stressing the implication of literature and other cultural practices in and elaborate
network of science this also lead to the undermining of the artist or the author hence roller birds
now famous claim that the author was dead at this point i would ah draw your attention
to an assignment which you should be submitting by the deadline
question one who are the main characters in plato’s ion remember for this assignment you
will have to do some reading of your own and this has to be submitted ah according to the
date ah given so ah please stick to the deadline so who are the main characters in plato’s
ion second question name any three books on and about archetypal criticism third who are
the major writers of the aesthetic movement in europe and the last question who is the
author of s by z our next topic would be reader response criticism
this is a critical method that examines the reader and the act of reading rather than
the text being read so remember a note the important phrase the act of reading the reader
response ah approach evolved out of phenomenal logical and interpretive analysis and is closely
associated to reception theory some of the key writers of a reader response theory are
um hassain horse wolfgen eyesor and stanley fish we’ll also look at the concept of interpretive
communities and fishes famous is there a text in this class
our next topic would be semiotics now what is semiotics we are surrounded with semiotics
which is nothing but a study of science so semiology was defined by one of its founders
the swiss linguist ferdinand soccer ah as the study of the life of science within society
the idea of semiotics as an interdisciplinary mode for examining phenomena in different
fields emerged in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century’s with the independent
works of a soccer and of the american philosopher and writer charles peas peas defined a science
as something which stands to somebody for something and one of his major contributions
to semiotics was the categorisation of science into three main types an icon an index and
a symbol modern semiotics have applied peaches and soccer’s principles to several fields
including aesthetics and sopology communications and psychology and our endeavour would be
to attain or to gain an overview of this the most significant names associated ah with
the theory of semiotics are claude levis strauss jonathan george derrida mishel fuko rolabalt
and julia kristeva we will also look at ambattur echo and his a theory of semiotics
the next area of discussion would be film theory ah i am sure all of us here are ah
interested in watching films but for in this course you will understand not just ah what
movies to watch but also how to appreciate films ah so the notion of film theory started
in the um mid nineteen fifties off course there were attempts to theorize cinema even
before that but from the mid fifties onwards it began ah to be taken very seriously and
it started with the work of ah the cairo of the cinema writers who propounded the notion
of film authorship in nineteen forty eight ah a french writer alexandra ashro published
an essay in accro france um entitled la camera stylo which is the camera as a pen so therefore
the idea of the writer sorry the idea of director as an author and therefore we get something
called the auteur theory and this was auteur theory in france later in america it was popularised
ah particular due to the efforts made by someone called andrew sarris
we’ll also look at cinema and modernism and ah as we know modernism deals with the questions
of aesthetics and art and attempts to steer clear of ah the constraints or very simility
would of realism so this will be discussed in detail in this ah in the course in the
lectures on a film theory and ah we’ll also look at the american awagandh cinema of the
nineteen sixties to the mid seventies some major international film movements will also
be given attention for example the french new wave and italian neorealism we’ll also
understand what was meant by german expressionism we’ll continue with this lecture in our next
class

12 Replies to “Introduction and Course overview Part A – Literary Theory and Literary Criticism

  1. This is an excellent, clear, straightforward introduction to lit theory! Prof Iqbal covers the key concepts and developments both thoroughly and without the mystification that I've experienced with other lecturers…glad I found these very informative talks!

  2. Zoota
    She doesn't have the standard of a school teacher how could she be selected for professor post ,IIT me bhi approach se professors appoint hote hai.

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