A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature / Edition 6

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Ranging from traditional approaches to the most contemporary perspectives, such as feminist and gender studies, cultural studies, and postcolonial studies, A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature offers readers a variety of clearly articulated approaches to interpreting literature. This thoroughly updated sixth edition applies these diverse approaches to the same six classic works—"To His Coy Mistress," "Young Goodman Brown," "Everyday Use," Hamlet, Huckleberry Finn, and Frankenstein—in a way proven to elicit student analysis by enriching their response to and understanding of the individual works and critical theory. (Andrew Marvell's poem "To His Coy Mistress," Nathaniel Hawthorne's story "Young Goodman Brown," and Alice Walker's story "Everyday Use" are included in full within this volume.)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195394726
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/10/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 6
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 416,864
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Wilfred L. Guerin, Professor Emeritus of English, Louisiana State University

Earle Labor, George A. Wilson Professor of American Literature, Centenary College

Lee Morgan, Professor Emeritus of English, Centenary College

Jeanne C. Reesman, Ashbel Smith Professor of English, University of Texas at San Antonio

John R. Willingham, Late, Professor Emeritus of English, University of Kansas

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Table of Contents


1. Getting Started: The Precritical Response
I. Setting
II. Plot
III. Character
IV. Structure
V. Style
VI. Atmosphere
VII. Theme

2. Traditional Approaches
I. First, a Note on Traditional Approaches
II. First Things First: Textual Scholarship, Genres, and Source Study
A. Textual Scholarship: Do We Have an Accurate Version of What We Are Studying?
1. General Observations
2. Text Study in Practice
B. Matters of Genre: What Are We Dealing With?
1. An Overview of Genre
2. Genre Characteristics in Practice
C. Source Study: Did Earlier Writings Help this Work Come into Being?
III. Historical and Biographical Approaches
A. General Observations
B. Historical and Biographical Approaches in Practice
1. "To His Coy Mistress"
2. Hamlet
3. Huckleberry Finn
4. "Young Goodman Brown"
5. "Everyday Use"
6. Frankenstein
IV. Moral and Philosophical Approaches
A. General Observations
B. Moral and Philosophical Approaches in Practice
1. "To His Coy Mistress"
2. Hamlet
3. Huckleberry Finn
4. "Young Goodman Brown"
5. "Everyday Use"
6. Frankenstein
V. Summary of Key Points
VI. Limitations of Traditional Approaches

3. The Formalist Approach
I. The Process of Formalist Analysis: Making the Close Reader
II. A Brief Overview of Formalist Criticism
A. The Course of Half a Century
B. Backgrounds of Formalist Theory
C. The "New Criticism"
D. Reader-Response Criticism: A Reaction
III. Constants of the Formalist Approach: Some Key Concepts, Terms, and Devices
A. Form and Organic Form
B. Texture, Image, Symbol
C. Fallacies
D. Point of View
E. The Speaker's Voice
F. Tension, Irony, Paradox
IV. The Formalist Approach in Practice
A. Word, Image, and Theme: Space-Time Metaphors in "To His Coy Mistress"
B. The Dark, the Light, and the Pink: Ambiguity as Form in "Young Goodman Brown"
1. Virtues and Vices
2. Symbol or Allegory?
3. Loss Upon Loss
C. Romance and Reality, Land and River: The Journey as Repetitive
Form in Huckleberry Finn
D. Dialectic as Form: The Trap Metaphor in Hamlet
1. The Trap Imagery
2. The Cosmological Trap
3. "Seeming" and "Being"
4. "Seeing" and "Knowing"
E. Irony and Narrative Voice: A Formalist
Approach to "Everyday Use"
F. Frankenstein: A Thematic Reading
V. Summary of Key Points
VI. Limitations of the Formalist Approach

4. Materialisms
I. Marxism
II. British Cultural Materialism
III. New Historicism
IV. Ecocriticism
V. Literary Darwinism
VI. Materialisms in Practice
A. A New History of "To His Coy Mistress"
B. Hamlet's Evolution
C. Frankenstein: The Creature as Proletarian
D. "The Lore of Fiends": Hawthorne and his Market
E. Fathers and Sons, Gods and Slaves in Huckleberry Finn
F. "But they're priceless!" Material versus Exchange Value in "Everyday Use"
VII. Summary of Key Points
VIII. Limitations of Materialist Approaches

5. Literature and Linguistics
I. Structuralism and Post-structuralism, Including Deconstruction
A. Structuralism: Contexts and Definitions
B. The Linguistics Model
C. Russian Formalism: Extending Saussure
D. Structuralism, Levi-Strauss, and Semiotics
E. French Structuralism: Coding and Decoding
F. British and American Interpreters
G. Post-Structuralism, Deconstruction
II. Dialogics
III. Linguistic Approaches in Practice
A. Deconstructing "To His Coy Mistress"
B. The Deep Structure of Hamlet
C. Language and Discourse in Frankenstein
D. Huck and Jim: Dialogic Partners
E. "Speak of the Devil!": The Sermon in "Young Goodman Brown"
F. "Asalamalakim!" Linguistic Distortion in "Everyday Use"
IV. Summary of Key Points
V. Limitations of Linguistic Approaches

6. The Psychological Approach: Freud
I. Aims and Principles
A. Abuses and Misunderstandings of the Psychological Approach
B. Freud's Theories
C. Other Theories
II. The Psychological Approach in Practice
A. Hamlet: the Oedipus Complex
B. Rebellion Against the Father in Huckleberry Finn
C. Prometheus Manqué: The Monster Unbound
D. "Young Goodman Brown": Id over Superego
E. Sexual Imagery in "To His Coy Mistress"
F. Morality Principle Over Pleasure Principle in "Everyday Use"
III. Summary of Key Points
IV. Other Possibilities and Limitations of the Psychological Approach

7. Mythological and Archetypal Approaches
I. Definitions and Misconceptions
II. Some Examples of Archetypes
A. Images
B. Archetypal Motifs or Patterns
C. Archetypes as Genres
III. Myth Criticism in Practice
A. Anthropology and Its Uses
1. The Sacrificial Hero: Hamlet
2. Archetypes of Time and Immortality: "To His Coy Mistress"
B. Jungian Psychology and Its Archetypal Insights
1. Some Special Archetypes: Shadow, Persona, and Anima
2. "Young Goodman Brown": A Failure of Individuation
3. Creator or Creator: Who is the Real Monster in Frankenstein?
4. Syntheses of Jung and Anthropology
C. Myth Criticism and the American Dream: Huckleberry Finn as the American Adam
D. "Everyday Use": The Great [Grand]Mother
IV. Summary of Key Points
V. Limitations of Myth Criticism

8. Feminisms and Gender Studies
I. Feminisms and Feminist Literary Criticism: Definitions
II. First-, Second-, and Third-Wave Feminisms
III. The Literary Woman: Created or Constructed?
A. Feminism and Psychoanalysis
B. Feminists of Color
C. Marxist and Materialist Feminisms
D. Feminist Film Studies
IV. Gender Studies
V. Feminisms and Gender Studies in Practice
A. The Marble Vault: The Mistress in "To His Coy Mistress"
B. Frailty, Thy Name Is Hamlet: Hamlet and Women
C. "The Workshop of Filthy Creation": Men and Women in Frankenstein
1. Mary and Percy, Author and Editor
2. Masculinity and Femininity in the Frankenstein Family
3. "I Am Thy Creature. . ."
D. Men, Women, and the Loss of Faith in "Young Goodman Brown"
E. Women and "Sivilization" in Huckleberry Finn
F. "In Real Life": Recovering the Feminine Past in "Everyday Use"
VI. Summary of Key Points
VII. The Future of Feminist and Gender Studies: Some Problems and Limitations

9. Cultural Studies
I. What Is (or Are) Cultural Studies?
II. United States Ethnic Studies
A. African American Writers
B. Latina/o Writers
C. Native American Literatures
D. Asian American Writers
III. Postmodernism and Popular Culture
A. Postmodernism
B. Popular Culture
IV. Cultural Studies in Practice
A. Two Characters in Hamlet: Marginalization with a Vengeance
B. "To His Coy Mistress": Implied Culture
C. From Paradise Lost to Frank-N-Furter: The Creature Lives!
1. Revolutionary Births
2. "A Race of Devils"
3. The Frankenpheme in Popular Culture: Fiction, Drama, Film, Television
D. A Postmodern Goodman Brown
E. "Telling the Truth, Mainly": Huck and Twain as Tricksters
F. Cultures in Conflict: A Story Looks at Cultural Change
V. Summary of Key Points
VI. Limitations of Cultural Studies

10. Postcolonial Studies
I. Postcolonialism: Definitions
II. Some Key Figures
III. Postcolonial Critical Practices
A. Seventeenth-Century English Colonization and "To His Coy Mistress"
B. Hamlet: Postcolonial Adaptations
C. Frankenstein: Are There Any New Worlds?
D. Jim's Superstitions in Huckleberry Finn
E. Salem: A City Upon a Hill?
F. The End of an Era: "Everyday Use"
IV. Summary of Key Points
V. Limitations of Postcolonial Studies


Appendix A Andrew Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress"

Appendix B Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"

Appendix C Alice Walker, "Everyday Use"

Glossary of Literary Terms



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