How to Read Texts: A Student Guide to Critical Approaches and Skills / Edition 1

How to Read Texts: A Student Guide to Critical Approaches and Skills / Edition 1

by Neil McCaw
     
 

ISBN-10: 0826492886

ISBN-13: 9780826492883

Pub. Date: 05/21/2008

Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

How to Read Texts introduces key critical approaches to literary texts and offers a practical introduction for students developing their own critical and close-reading skills. Written in a lively, jargon-free style, it explains critical concepts, approaches and ideas including: debates around critical theory, the role of history and context, the links between

Overview

How to Read Texts introduces key critical approaches to literary texts and offers a practical introduction for students developing their own critical and close-reading skills. Written in a lively, jargon-free style, it explains critical concepts, approaches and ideas including: debates around critical theory, the role of history and context, the links between creativity and criticism, the relationship between author, reader and text.

Practical examples, readings, exercises and 'checkpoints' help students to work on their own readings of both primary and secondary texts and to explore the links between critical and creative writing. The book enables students to gain confidence in their critical readings of a variety of texts and encourages them to challenge the assumptions behind other critics' readings. How to Read Texts is an indispensable guide for any English student who wants to develop their reading of literary and critical texts.

About the Author:
Neil McCaw is Senior Lecturer in English & Creative Writing at the University of Winchester, UK

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780826492883
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date:
05/21/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.36(d)

Table of Contents


Introduction: Why read about how to read?     1
What is a 'text'?     2
What is 'reading'?     4
Beginning from where you are - finding your critical voice     10
Reading objectively?     10
The inevitability of bias     11
Limitations on reading     12
Using biases and preconceptions     12
The undergraduate questionnaire     13
The creative critic     24
Why are we talking about creativity in a book about reading?     25
Different types of reader: critic vs. writer     25
Criticism and critical theory     26
Creativity and criticism     27
Critical/creative reading: Edgar Allan Poe, 'The Tell-Tale Heart'     35
Intervening in texts     38
Close reading     42
What is close reading?     43
A history of close reading     45
Creatively exploring close reading     59
Critical reading: William Blake, 'The Tyger'     60
Biography and authorship     64
Introduction     65
The role of the author     65
Theories of the author     67
Theories of reading     69
Reception theory     72
The significance of biography     72
The limitations of author-centred approaches     73
Healthy scepticism     74
Creative exploration: biography and authorship     75
Critical reading: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre     76
History and contexts     81
Reading contexts     82
Types of context     82
Genre     82
Literary history     84
Reading genre and literary history: drawbacks     85
History: cultural/social/political     86
The significance of history     86
Using history     88
Marxism     91
New Historicism     92
Feminist criticism     94
Post-colonial criticism     95
The weaknesses of historical readings     96
Benefits of historical readings     97
Creative exploration: history and contexts     98
Critical reading: History in Toni Morrison's Beloved     99
Critical theory     103
Introduction     104
What is critical theory? A very short history     104
Ways of reading 'theory'     105
The 'what is literature?' debate      106
The effects of theory     111
The achievements of theory     112
Approaching theoretical criticism: a way through the maze     112
Reading theory 1: Freud, 'Civilization and its Discontents'     114
Reading theory 2: de Lauretis, 'Upping the Anti [sic] in Feminist Theory'     117
Critical reading: Shakespeare's Macbeth     119
Creative exploration: critical theory     123
Conclusion: Unveiling the self-conscious critic     126
The undergraduate questionnaire revisited     127
Reading as exploration     128
Edgar Allan Poe, 'The Tell-Tale Heart'     130
William Blake, 'The Tyger'     134
Arthur Conan Doyle, 'The Man with the Twisted Lip'     135
Notes     155
Bibliography     160
Index     162

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