noc18- hs31-Lecture 01-Introduction:What is Literary Theory?


hello and welcome to this course titled Introduction
to Literary Theory . In a todays lecture we will try and understand what constitutes literary
theory, and we will also familiarize ourselves with some of the topics that we are going
to cover as part of this lecture series . However, before we start discussing the term literary
theory we will need to keep in mind that ah there is no readily available definition of
the term that is universally accepted . Therefore; our task would be to analyze the various available
discourses about literary theory and to arrive at a working definition .
We will then go on adding nuances to this tentative definition as we proceed with our
course, so that by the end of it we should have a thorough understanding of the subject
. Now according to the Oxford English dictionary. The term theory means and I am quoting from
the dictionary the conceptual basis of a subject or area of study .
And this conceptual basis is understood in opposition to the notion of practice ok. So,
one easy way to understand literary theory is to read it as a conceptual basis of the
area of study that we know as literature . And this can then be opposed to the more practical
side of literary studies which deals with analysing and evaluating particularly literary
texts. And this second bit is usually identified as literary criticism as opposed to literary
theory. So, literary criticism takes up the practical part of literary studies ah. So,
when other words literary theory deals with the broad picture, attempting to give a comprehensive
vision of what constitutes the field of literary studies and literary criticism concerns itself
with the practice of reading individual texts by transforming abstract concepts of literary
theories into analytical tools . However, in spite of this being a rather neat
and ready definition of literary theory this does not take us very far, and this is because
for most of the students of English literature. The term literary theory usually presents
itself as a self-contradictory concept. Here I would like to digress a little and make
clear that throughout this course I would be talking about literary theory as it is
usually taught within the disciplinary framework of English literary studies.
Ah I would therefore, request you to keep in mind that I teach English literature in
an Indian Institute and it is from this location that I will try to intervene in the field
of literary theory. As in fact, you will ah see during the course of our discussion that
the location of the scholar crucially determines the approach to this subject, and so I thought
it would be better to clarify my own position, my own location at the very onset .
Anyway coming back ah to where we left, I was saying that the definition of literary
theory that we can construct from the dictionary meaning of the word theory does not take us
very far. And the reason for that is theory the term usually appears to be self-contradictory
to most of the students of English literature . And there are several reasons for this:
ah for a start most of the intellectuals that we normally study as part of any standard
syllabus of literary theory are not literary critics.
To give you an instance Rag Derrida one of the most common names that we encounter in
any course of literary theory was in fact, a Professor of philosophy Gag Lacan. Another
important name was a practicing psychoanalyst Claude Levi Strauss one of the founding figures
of structuralism which is an integral part of our study of ah literary theory today,
in ah fact taught social anthropology in France. Therefore, as you can see for someone situated
within the framework of English literary studies, most of what is discussed under the rubric
of literary theory seems to be concerned not primarily with literature but with other things;
with things like philosophy for instance, or psychology, or sociology, or history .
Indeed ah for someone like Jonathan Culler and Jonathan Culler is ah a Professor of English
at the Cornell University in America. The two words that compose the term literary theory
appear to be so distinct from each other. That he insists on calling it simply theory,
without the objective literary attached to it. In his book literary theory a very short
introduction color defines theory in literary studies as a self-contained genre, which might
be concerned with anything and everything under the sun, but not with and here I quote
ah color, not with the nature of literature or the methods of its study.
In colors account this kind of theory, which originates outside the discipline of literary
studies and remain an alient presence within it is associated with a particular date. And
ah with a particular decade rather and that particular decade is a decade of the 1960
. I would like to underline this date, because in a significant number of textbooks you will
find the 1960, repeatedly mentioned as a moment of origin for what we now consider as a literary
theory. I will have to come back to this date and
why it is regarded as a watershed moment later on but ah right now let us move on to another
peculiar point about literary theory, which seems problematic to most of the students
of English literature . Now if you are doing a course on a literary theory as part of any
English literature program, I am sure you will be struck by the number of French authors
that you encounter in your course. So, you will encounter for instance Claude
Levi Strauss, you will encounter Jacques Lacan, Simone de Beauvoir, Louis Althusser, Jacques
Derrida, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Julia Kristeva, Elaine Sixuvus and I can go
on the list seems to be endless. And these are figures who now form a permanent part
in le syllabus of literary theory within the field of English studies.
But they were scholars who worked from within the French intellectual tradition and are
therefore, in some sense outsiders to the world of English literary studies. In fact,
most of their works were available to the English speaking world only after a very significant
delay . Thus to give you an example Michael Fucause famous book fully a de Rais own which
was published in French in 1961 was available to the English speaking world all after a
delay of 4 years, when R Howard translated it and brought it out under the title madness
and civilization . However this ah 1965 English version translated
by Howard ah was a highly abridged edition ah of Fukos original text. And ah in the English
version about 300 pages of the original text along with 800 footnotes were left out. Indeed
the first unabridged edition of the text by Fuko was not available in to the English readers
before 2006, 45 years after the original text was published in French you remember the date
is 1961. And the final version becomes available in
English only in 2006. Similarly right we talk about pwalks celebrated translation bearing
the title of dermatology was published 11 years after Jacques Derridas French original
telegram ethology, Ah and of course, Derridas work was originally published in French . Thus
as you can see the very core authors and texts who are studied as part of a literary theory
course, in the English speaking world reaches the Anglophone readers from outside and only
after a very significant delay . This notion of literary theory arriving from
outside to the universities of the English speaking world is translated into a devastating,
but witty metaphor by terry Eagleton in his book literary theory and introduction.
So, Eagleton speaking as a Professor of English literature located in England again I need
to remind you that the location of the scholar is very important as far as this course is
concerned. So, Eagleton located in England as a Professor of English literature describes
how the jaw of a section of British literary critics was reduced to waiting at the port
city of Dover to receive the latest shipment of theory dispatched from Paris, which on
an average took a decade or so to sail across the channel separating France and England
. For those of us who study literary theory within the English departments of India or
other places in the global south like Africa and Latin, America. The texts and theorists
appear to be even more foreign and the delay in accessing them is much longer. For us therefore,
waiting to acquaint ourselves with the latest in literary theory not only means waiting
for these works to be first conceptualized ah by theorists sitting in the continent then
translated in English, but it also involves waiting for the publishers to bring out affordable
editions for our local markets. So, they can be purchased and readily studied by our students
in the class . In what follows my effort would be to reduce these feelings of alienation
and confusion that usually surrounds the concept of literary theory.
And I wish to do this by addressing two issues, the first is how what is labelled as quote
unquote theory is connected with the idea of literature, this is the first issue that
I would like to address and as I have said earlier for some the general impression is
that theory is external to the field of literature. But I would like to question is that so is
that really the case or are they both part of a wider cultural scene which integrally
binds them together. The second point that I would ah want to focus on is how we, the
students of English literary studies in India are connected with the evolving story of literary
theory. Here again the general impression is that we are at least twice removed from
the main source of action. As I said first we wait for the European continental
philosophers, sociologists, psychoanalysis to come up with the theories and then we wait
for them to be translated in English and subsequently handed down to us in the form of affordable
local editions. But I think our location in India might not be as marginal to the evolving
story of literary theory as is usually made out to be, but before we go into these issues.
Let us concentrate on the connection between literature and theory and see how tenuous
or how strong the links are between the two. And to do this we will need to go back to
the decade of the 1960, in the month of May in the year 1968 the streets of Paris were
on fire, open battle was going on between graduate students and the police.
The ranks of the students were swelled by workers and they were putting up barricades
in the famous university area in ah Paris known as the Latin quarters. And the graffiti
on the walls red anti-authority slogans like (Refer Time: 14:58) it is forbidden to forbid
. Many of the French intellectuals that we had listed a moment ago as prominent theorists
of our time, including the two most famous names Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault
were student participants in the events of May 1968. And it is generally agreed that
these events which came to a head in Paris in the May of 1968 have had a transformative
influence on how literature is read and theorized, but why were these anti-establishment riots
taking place in Paris. And what is the connection between these scenes
of violence and anti-establishment protests with how literature is read and theorized
to understand or to answer this question we need to look beyond 1968. In fact, the story
of the events of 1968 actually starts from after the end of the Second World War after
1945. In spite of the huge amount of devastation
that was wrecked by this war the years following it saw significant economic growth and all
round prosperity. Especially in the developed capitalist countries, but also in the communist
ruled soviet bloc, America whose economy had got a great Philip ah in the war years continued
to grow even after the war was over, but it was the economy of the non-communist countries
in the Europe that were more successful. And they were almost completely transformed by
the 1960, the USSR was also faring equally well in terms of economy and grew at a rate
that was comparable to the developed capitalist countries , but this prosperity what was not
just confined to the USA or Europe or the USSR.
Rather it was a worldwide phenomenon and as a historian Eric Hobsbawm for instance observes
in his book age of extremes, between the end of the world war 1945 and the 1970 there was
a spectacular growth in world population . But at the same time there were no mass starvation
except as a product of war and political madness as in china of the 1958. And this was because
there was a boom in food production, which rose faster than the population. The average
life expectancy also shot up by an incredible 7 years and this is the global average. So,
there was all round prosperity in the years following the Second World War.
And one of the key social features that characterize the changing times after the Second World
War was a sharp decline, in the number of people engaged in farming and this in spite
of the fact that food production actually increased.
And this decline in the number of ah people engaged in farming was complicated by a parallel
trend. A dramatic rise in occupations that required higher education, and this requirement
for higher education in turn was matched by growing number of families worldwide, who
because of the economic boom could afford to send their adolescent children to secondary
schools and then to universities, rather than forcing them to go to work early to support
the family income. So, from the 1960s to say the 1980s the student
population in different parts of the world multiplied by anything between 3 to 9 times.
In France alone the student population which was roughly around hundred thousand at the
end of the Second World War grew to become 650 thousand by the end of the 1960s.
And most of this increase was noticed in the departments of humanities and social sciences
. This enormous rise in a student population had profound consequences, because most of
these new students were first generation learners and had a very different class profile from
the group of social elites who attended universities till the Second World War.
There was therefore, a sense of a natural class resentment that most of these students
felt towards the university authority which was geared for hundreds of years to serve
only the social elite . This class resentment felt by the students found eco within the
ranks of the workers and so in the May of 1968 we see students and workers coming together
to build barricades and to resist authority in general. However, these anti-authority,
anti-establishment unrest was not just limited to Paris, Paris was indeed the epicentre.
But similar student revolts were witnessed all over Europe as well as in America where
it usually took the form of anti-vietnam war movement protesting against the American military
action against Vietnam . And these student protests and the erosion
of the social status quo that it is represented had deep reaching impact in the field of humanities
and social sciences. And this of course, includes the field of literary studies in countries
that witnessed the student unrest during the 1960s. The socio cultural vantage point from
which literature was read and analysed till the pre Second World War era was not the point
of reference that was shared by the new students in the post war generation.
This resulted in a breakdown of the meaning making process that is necessary for communication
. The social and cultural norms which had stabilized the meanings of words and which
had structured them structured the process of meaning making till recently, were now
put under question. The old figures of authority who had fixed the meaning were now being dismantled,
this crisis of meaning was most powerfully put forward by Jacques Derrida in a 1966,
lecture which later became ah the essay, structure, sign and play in the discourse of human sciences.
In this essay derrida posited ah or in fact, posits the idea of discourse as a decentred
structure which is devoid of any central figure of authority. The meanings of words therefore,
do not get fixed, but in a free play continues to lead from word to word for students of
literature this crisis in meaning making due to lack of an authority figure was perhaps
even more clearly stated by Rolla Barthe. But in his famous 1967, essay announced the
death of the author, the figure who was assumed to be the ultimate authority on what his words
on the printed paper might mean . Refusal to accept any authority meant refusal to accept
the power that an author might have in controlling the meaning of his words. A central tenet
that would inform the school of post structuralist literary theory which is one of the things
we are going to take up in one of our future lectures.
Now, this erosion of authority which erupted in the form of violent riots in the 1960s
in Europe and America was however, not merely confined to the university campuses and streets,
but was also felt within the intimacy of the family structure . In the years following
the Second World War the number of women in the higher education section rose considerably.
And I am here stating figures ah from all over Europe and from the USA.
So, whereas, till the Second World War women constituted only 15 to 30 percent of the student
population enrolled in higher education, by the end of the 1970 the number had risen to
almost 50 percent in most of the developed countries .
So, this means that the wave of new student population that we have been discussing so
far also had a large number of women in them, women who were as disaffected if not more
at least as disaffected with the authority and with the old established order as their
male counterparts. The rise in the women student population across Europe and America was complemented
by another trend. It was complemented by an equally dramatic rise in the participation
of women in workforce . And ah such an expansion of the social group
of educated and economically independent women resulted in obvious tensions within the family
structure which was inherently patriarchal, and ah within which the superiority of men
over women ah was almost taken for granted .
This tension gave rise to the social and intellectual movement that is referred to as a second wave
of feminism. A movement that took up issues of female sexuality, reproductive rights and
position of women both in the workplace as well as within the family and in the field
of literary studies this movement manifested in the form of a quest to find new parameters
for writing and reading literature as a woman .
A women were however, not the only ah marginalized section of the society who gained prominence
in the change scenario after the Second World War. Another previously marginalized social
group now enjoyed a similar kind of emancipation and a similar kind of foregrounding.
And here I am ah thinking about the inhabitants of the vast stretches of colonized area in
the global south which gained independence in the decades immediately following the Second
World War. So, it started with the independence of ah countries like India and Pakistan, but
soon it spread across to Africa . And most of this ah continent most of Africa was decolonized
during the 1950s and 1960s . There was again a huge impact of this emancipation
on how literature is ah read and analysed. So, by the 1960s the literature produced by
authors from earths while colonies managed to carve out a niche in the global book market.
In England for instance the publisher ah Hyndman started ah bringing out the African writers
series which published and brought to the metropolitan readers the work of authors like
Chinua Achebe Boog Eva Tongo Amata I do (Refer Time: 27:05) and so on. And these are authors
that we will have to remember they would not be considered part of mainstream English literature
even say 50 years ago . Also just as the second wave feminism gave rise to various intellectual
debates regarding how women as a reader should engage with literature.
The new sense of emancipation and prominence gained by the people in the global south gave
rise to a whole new field of literary ah theory concerned with how the once colonized subject
should intervene in the field of literature. And we will talk more about this particular
kind of literary theory when we discuss post colonialism again in one of our future lectures
. So, as you can see therefore, the world changed
radically between the end of the Second World War and the end of 1970 beginning of 1980s.
This meant that not only the context in which literature is studied and made sense of underwent
a very significant transformation. But also this means that the profile of producers of
literature as well as the students who critically analyze these literary texts within the classroom
setting they changed dramatically . The new prominence that literary theory enjoyed
in the second half of the twentieth century was therefore, a result of students and scholars
trying to connect their study of literature with this changed context. An effort which
involved redefining the very conceptual basis of literary studies and connecting it with
the new streams of thought in the sister areas of humanities and social sciences like as
I have already mentioned philosophy, psychology, sociology, history and so on.
Now one of the reasons that the post 1960s boom in literary theory is often regarded
as we saw. As an alien intervention within the field of literary studies is because the
scholars who made use of these new theories who still make use of these new theories are
actually challenging the prevalent ways in which literature was being read and understood
till say the Second World War. However, what we need to remember here is that no matter
how alien theory might appeared at a particular historical moment no reading of literature
can be ever bereft of theory altogether . So, those who portray the literary theories
that has emerged in the post 1960s often forget that existing ways in which literature was
being read and understood till that point in time, were themselves underlined by certain
conceptual basis which echoed certain other philosophical or sociological or historical
outlook of that time . And therefore, with each major shift in the economic social and
cultural context we can see fresh attempts to put literary studies on a new conceptual
basis. That is not only more in tune with the changed world, but also in tune with the
changing perspectives in other academic disciplines. So we need to remember that the reading of
literature has never been an isolated practice that is cut off from other disciplines of
human enquiry . An attempt to create an inside outside division and please literature on
one side and theory on the other side is therefore, something which cannot be sustained for very
long . In other words that significantly changed global context of the Second World War of
the post Second World War era. Might have led to a previewed profusion of new literary
theories, but it was definitely not the first attempt to theorize how to read and how to
engage with literature . Here I would like to give you an example and
I would of course, borrow this example from within the field of English literary studies.
Near the very end of the eighteenth century William words worth and Samuel Coleridge two
friends and literary collaborators significantly changed the ways in which literature is ah
created is conceived and is read. This revolution in the field of English literary studies is
usually referred to as a romantic movement, but if we look deeper we will see that this
re conceptualization of literature also had a broader, social, political and cultural
context. On the one hand this urge to think about literature
a new was fuelled by the great political and intellectual changes that were brought about
by the French revolution. Indeed words worth was present in Paris ah immediately after
the most iconic act of French revolution the storming of the bastille prison ah had been
performed and a republic ah had been declared in place of a monarchy in France. And the
revolutionary political change that was worth witnessed in France had such an impact on
him that he sought to express ah hm this paradigm shift in poetic form in his autobiographical
piece the prelude and I will read out some lines from the prelude here.
It was in truth an hour of universal moment, mildest men were agitated and commotions,
strife of passion and opinion, filled the walls of peaceful houses with unique sounds.
The soil of common life was at that time, too hot to tread upon. I am sure some of you
were able to hear the echos of the events of 1960s, ah in these lines written about
how things were unfolding in the 1790s . But it was not just this political agitation that
led to a re conceptualization of literature ah within the domain of English literary studies
both words worth and Coleridge in their efforts to rethink the very process in which literature
is created and consumed. Also drew significantly from ah French philosophers
like ah jean Jacques Rousseau and also a German idealists like Immanuel Kant, Jacque Higelin,
Freda shilling and Johann Gottlieb Fichte . So, as you can see through this comparison
1960s was not the only moment when English literary studies was opened up to external
influences and a theories were imported from other disciplines to arrive at a new conceptual
basis for literature. The theory of literature forwarded by the
English Romantic Movement was in fact, equally dependent on the ideas of intellectuals who
were firstly, neither literary critics. Secondly, nor where they working from within any English
tradition . Literary theory in the field of English studies therefore, does not start
in the 1960s the 1960s is just one watershed moment ah one of the watershed moments in
the evolving history of literary theory. You need from the vantage point of being a
student of English literature we can spot a number of such watershed movements, one
of them being of course, the emergence of the English romantic movement about which
ah we just ah discussed. And ah the 1790s when a new theory of ah literature
emerged along with the writings of words worth and Coleridge, but we can spot another watershed
moment at the beginning of the 18 century. When the English word quote unquote literature
started acquiring its modern meaning the meaning that we understand now . As Raymond Williams
notes in his book Marxism and literature, the term which the term literature which ah
has its origin in the Latin word littera . Started being used in English from around
the 14 century and in its earlier forms which was by the way spelt with a double t, so the
spelling was l I double t e r a t u r e and this was because the Latin word littera was
also spelt with a double t right . So, in this earlier form it signified just someone’s
ability to read so when the late sixteenth early seventeenth century English scholar
Francis bacon for instance mentioned someone being learned in literature. He was actually
simply referring to the fact that the person was able to read .
Now, therefore, and we still retain something of this earlier use when we use the term literacy
for instance which was initially connected with the word literature right. Now that connection
of course, has been lost the connection between literature and literacy . William Caxton , if
you ah know your English history you will know this that William Caxton had introduced
the printing press in England in the fifteenth century.
So, by the end of the seventeenth century ah when printed reading material was available
in sufficient abundance literature had come to signify not only ones ability to read,
but also more specifically the ability of someone to read printed books or the practice
of reading printed books . More over literacy and the availability of printed books whereas
is I think obvious limited to a small section of elite within a society, think of India
even now and you will get the meaning of what I am trying to say here .
And so by the eighteenth century literature was also associated with this with with a
kind of elitist aura, why? Because literacy and availability of printed material was restricted
to only to a group of social elite. And by the eighteenth century literature was also
associated with a certain degree of cultural sophistication it was associated with everything
that a social elite is associated with. Engaging with literature therefore, was a
way of gaining as well as displaying cultural values and civilizational attainments. Raymond
Williams also notes that by the eighteenth century the use of the word literature changed
in another fundamental way. During this time it acquired the meaning of imaginative composition
or imaginative writing and while it gained this meaning it subsumed within itself the
earlier category of poetry or poesy which had signified imagined imaginative composition
before then . Now, with the development of the term literature
poetry was confined primarily to metrical composition. Even now we associate poetry
primarily with metrical composition, but it is important to remember that at one point
of time, it was not just one kind of literature, but poetry or poesy ah signified a much broader
ah thing it signified imaginative composition in general.
And why I am saying it is important to remember because we will often ah come across terms
like poetics, ah which actually signifies more than just a commentary on poetry it signifies
more than that it signifies a commentary on literature in general as we understand the
term now. Ah coming back to the point it is in this
time of change eighteenth century, when literature gradually became what we understand it to
be now . That I would like to locate the origin of literary theory or literary criticism , because
it is only when certain works started being identified and thought as literature that
we encounter the growth of theories to sustain it as a field of studies as a separate field
of independent studies . Interestingly India and Indian students of
literature played a very significant role in this eighteenth century story of how English
literature developed as a separate field of study and how a complementary field of literary
theory developed along with it . And this is because India was one of the earliest places
in the world where English literature was studied as an academic discipline .
So, you can see rather than being marginal to the story of literary theory we those of
us who teach and study ah English literature in India are actually at the very heart of
it. Not only during the moment of its origin in the eighteenth century, but also in later
times when India again comes to prominence with the rise of post-colonial literature
and post-colonial theory and with the emergence of ah theorists like Greta Chakraborty Spivak
and Homi Bhabha . We will encounter these names again ah in
our lectures of post-colonial literary theory later on. I would like to point out that though
I have just mentioned the early eighteenth century as the point from where we should
start our discussion of literary theory, because the very concept of literature was absent
ah within the field of English studies before that.
But in practice in actuality our syllabus will go will begin far back in time . And
this is because ancient Greek and roman philosophers like Plato for instance or Aristotle or Horace
or Longinus also known as Pseudo Longinus they had a very significant impact on the
theorists of ah the eighteenth century. And these philosophers therefore, form an integral
part of the history of literary theory as it is taught and studied within the academic
discipline of English literature . In our next lecture therefore, we will first discuss
Plato and Aristotle and we will discuss their commentary, on the idea of mimesis ah you
will discover that this term mimesis ah has been crucial in guiding all later understandings
of literature in particular and art in general. So, we will first discuss that and then we
will in turn move to Longinus and his theory of the sublime and how that theory of the
sublime relates to literature . And it is only after these initial lectures that we
will be able to start discussing, how literature and literary theory started being studied
in the field of English studies from the eighteenth century .
So, ah when we will move to the topic of literary theory in the context of eighteenth century
England we will see how there was an effort to ah mould the emerging field of literature
in accordance to the rules borrowed from the writings of ancient Greek and roman philosophers
ah this is why. In fact, the kind of literary theory that we see developing in England between
the second half of the seventeenth century right up to the first decades of eighteenth
century is referred to as the new classical school of literary theory.
And ah here the word neoclassical refers to a renewed interest in the writings of classical
authors of Greek and roman antiquity. Now the interest in these classical authors of
ancient Greece and Rome were already kindled in England during the renaissance, but it
was not until the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. That we encounter ah substantial
body of theoretical writings based on the thoughts and insights provided by the classical
authors . Incidentally ah and also very interestingly
the classical authors often did not influence the literary theoreticians in England directly.
Ah rather they were influenced via the works of ah French intellectuals like Nicola voila
Dupree. And therefore, better known as just wallow
ah and therefore, in the debates and discussions through which English literary theorists tried
to modify and expand or even contradict ah the ideas of ah the classical authors, so
Greek and roman antiquity to arrive at a new understanding of literature, often these discussions
had French intellectuals like voila as powerful interlocutors.
Ah and so you see terry Eagleton complaint about ah certain twentieth century English
literary critics waiting ah in the port city of dover for their intellectual shipment to
arrive from France. Can in fact, be extended back to the late seventeenth early eighteenth
century, because even back then what was happening ah in France in the intellectual circles of
France had a major impact on the intellectual life of England and of the Anglophone world
in general . Ah by the end of the eighteenth century; however,
the edifice of ah neoclassical literary theory was crumbling. The world was changing and
it was changing primarily under the influence of two major revolutions the industrial revolution
and the French revolution. And there were also new intellectual currents which were
at work by the end of the eighteenth century. Ah all this resulted in the new set of literary
theories that I have mentioned before as ah forming the Romantic Movement forming part
of the Romantic Movement. So, after discussing ah the neoclassical theory first of course,
we will begin with ah the works of ah Greek and ah roman intellectuals like Plato, Aristotle,
Longinus, etcetera. Then ah we will move on to a discussion of neoclassical literary theories
as it developed in late seventeenth and the first half of the eighteenth century . And
after that we will move to this new kind of literary theory that developed at the very
end of eighteenth century early nineteenth century, which we see as part of the greater
romantic movement . In our subsequent lectures after we have completed
romanticism completed discussing romanticism, we will ah again move forward roughly a 100
years ah from the Romantic Movement. And we will see that a fresh set of literary theories
had started emerging during the early twentieth century and here we will deal with how different
strategies of reading literature were experimented with by the American school of new critics
for instance by the Russian formalists. And we will also pay special attention to
Mikhail Bakhtin who was part of the Russian formalist movement, but he was also a major
theorist in his own right and terms like (Refer Time: 49:38) for instance which is today integrally
associated with literary theory and how we understand literature goes back to the writings
of buckton. So, ah when we will discuss Russian formalism we will also ah especially focus
on the works of Mikhail Bakhtin and we will also focus on the German phenomenologists
ah like Russell for instance of Heidegger. Who initiated a school of literary theory
that later developed into what we now call what we now know as the reader response theory
. After these discussions we will then move on to a set of lectures that would help us
connect literary theory with three major developments that marked the beginning of the twentieth
century . Ah we will start here with the development
that is perhaps least discussed in the world outside the academia, but nevertheless ah
which has had an astonishing amount of influence within the field of literary theory. Here,
I am talking about the 1916 publication of the book titled who the linguistic general
or ah course in general linguistics that is the title under which ah its English translation
was published. And this book is basically a collection of
lectures collection of lectures delivered by the Swiss linguist ah. Ferdinand de Saussure
and he is ah Saussure delivered these lectures between 1900 and 6 and 1900 and 7 and ah by
the time the ah book was published in 1916. So, sure was already dead ah, but it is to
this book to this collection of lectures that we can trace the beginning of structuralist
theory. Which not only influenced the field of linguistics, but also had a profound impact
on the field of sociology and literature ah for instance ah earlier in this lecture we
have mentioned someone called Claude Levi Strauss for instance who was a sociologist
but who may be use of this structuralist insight in his analysis of hm societies and Strauss
in general influenced ah literature ah and literary theory, which goes under the name
of structuralist ah literary structuralism ah its. In fact, the influence of Saussure
and his text continued even after the 1960s. And we see for instance ah even Rogues Derrida
ah taking his cue from ah structuralist theory indeed ah he starts his famous essay structural
sign and play in the discourse of human sciences by hm critiquing the work of ah Levi Strauss
. So, the new kind of theory that ah emerged after the 1960s and that is associated primarily
with the name of Rogues Derrida is also referred to as post structuralism.
Ah this is because of its close links with structuralism often structuralism and post
structuralism ah do not agree on major points, but nevertheless there are ah a significant
number of links between these two ah kinds of theories ah for us to place them together
and to learn about them one after the other. Ah from a discussion of structuralism and
post structuralism, we will then move on to the second major development that shaped the
twentieth century and this ah one is the Bolshevik revolution ah which happened in Russia in
1917 . Now, with this revolution the revolution in
1917 Karl Marx’s economic theory first gained the major major politically expression . There
was always political undertones in the writings of a Marx, but it was primarily ah document
which critiqued economic theories with 1917 this economic theory now transformed into
a major significant political movement. And ah hm the communists took over the reign
of Russia by bringing to an end the rule of the Romanov monarchs. However, the Bolshevik
revolution did not merely bring Marxism to the political foreground, but also expanded
it as a field of debate and this expansion was also felt within the field of literary
studies. And throughout the twentieth century Marxism continued to remain a very strong
intellectual force guiding theories about how to read how to analyze and indeed how
to create how to produce literature . The third major movement was marked by the 1899
publication of Sigmund Freuds Die Traumdeutung ah which was translated in English under the
title the interpretation of dreams . And this was a major publication because it
assured in the new science of psychoanalysis . And from the very beginning psychoanalysis
had a very strong relationship with literature and Freud for instance borrowed character
names like Oedipus from ancient Greek literature to express psychoanalytic concepts we have
for instance the edible complex. And also apart from borrowing literary terms Freud
also used his insight as a psychoanalyst to interpret various literary texts including
ah William Shakespeare’s hamlet . This strong connection between psychoanalysis
and literary theory has continued well beyond Freud. And throughout the twentieth century
we have had intellectuals like Carl Gustav Jung for instance Jacques Lacan real Deleuze
ah Felix Guattari and all of them have either used psychoanalytical insights to interpret
literature or whose works on psychoanalysis have been borrowed by other theorists to explicate
specific literary works . Next after completing this we will move to
the topic of literature and gender and in this lecture we will try to see how the different
waves of feminism ah have impacted literary theory. But in this lecture we will also try
and move beyond feminism to see how the more recent queer movements have also played a
part in building a new set of literary canons and promoting a new kind of discourse around
literature . As is common knowledge perhaps the prefix post plays a very significant ah
role in any syllabus of literary theory almost as significant as a suffix ism and ah. In
fact, we have already encountered quite a few isms in the form of romanticism, structuralism,
marxism, feminism . And we have also come across the prefix post
in the form of post structuralism, but we will focus on two more examples of this prefix
post, when we do post modernism and post colonialism. Again two very important topics as far as
literary theory is concerned and from there we will move on to theories or Eco criticism.
And this in a way we will actually bring us up to date because much of the contemporary
literary theory is emerging out of concerns about our shared environment and ecology.
In the final lecture I will try to give a brief introduction to certain literary theories
that have had their origin ah in ancient India within ancient Indian tradition. And here
I will be talking about things like the rasa theory and how [FL] can be used as ah a tool
of literary analysis, but it is also important to note that these quote unquote Indian theories
are not usually included in courses of literary theory within the field of English studies
ah. However, it would be agreed to try and expand the already eclectic field of literary
theory a bit more. And ah make it slightly more relevant to us
who study literary theory from within the context of Indian institutes ah. So, as you
can see we have a lot of ground to cover in this course. And ah we will continue our journey
in the next lecture where we will talk about the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle
and we will discuss their lasting impact in the study of literature and literary theory
good bye till then .

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