Glossary of Critical Interpretation

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a serious and often somber drama, written in prose or verse, that typically ends in disaster and that focuses on a character who undergoes unexpected personal reversals.
the combination of place, time in history, and social milieu that provides the general background for the characters and plot of a literary work
the general attempt to contest and subvert structuralism and to formulate new theories regarding interpretation and meaning
a Greek term used by literary critics to refer to representation of reality in literature
"blanks" in texts that must be filled in by readers
a term referring to the socially constructed identities man, woman, masculine, feminine
the association evoked by a word beyond its denotation, or literal meaning
an inscription on a coin, stone, statue, or building; but more commonly used by literary scholars and critics to refer to a passage printed on the title page of first page of a literary work or at the beginning of each section of such a work.
something, such as a literary work or other cultural product, regarded as an object of critical analysis
the study of signs, sign systems and the meanings derived from them
Status Symbol
something, either a possession or activity, by which a person's social or economic prestige is measured
A social system in which the father is the head of the family and men have control over women and children
categorization of a group of people according to ability or status
a narrative or history, a recital or relation
division into two usually contradictory parts or opinions
Social Constructionism
in sociology a school of thought in which social phenomena are created, institutionalized and made into tradition by humans
something, although it is of interest in its own right, stands for or suggests something larger and more complex- often an idea or a range of interrelated ideas, attitudes and practices.
a figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison
a figure of speech that compares two distinct things using words such as like or as to link the vehicle and tenor. Simile is distinguished from metaphor, another trope that associates two distinct things without using a connective word.
the analysis, typically using visual symbols, of poetic meter, the more or less regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllable in poetry.
Intentional Fallacy
a term referring to the practice of basing interpretations on the expressed or implied intentions of the author.
from the French genre "kind" or "type", the classification of literary works based on their content, form or technique.
the arrangement and interrelation of events in a narrative work, chosen and designed to engage the readers attention and interest.
one nation's dominance or dominent influence over another.
Class System
a system of social stratification in which a person's social status is determined by the family into which one is born and one's subsequent socioeconomic achievements
the class of industrial wage earners who, possessing no capital nor production means, must make their living by selling their labor.
the middle class, thought of as the opposite of the proletariat class.
the division of the psyche that contains elements of the psychic makeup that are not subject to conscious perception or control but that often affect conscious thoughts or perceptions.
the division of the psyche that is conscious, most immediatly controls thought and behavior, and is most in touch with external reality.
the component of the psyche that internalizes the mores and norms of society. it is the opposite of the id.
Oedipus Complex
a psychoanalytic term coined by Sigmund Freud to describe the sexual desire that a little boy (typically between the ages of 3 and 6) feels for his mother and the rivalry and hostility correspondingly felt towards the father.
Gay and Lesbian Criticism
An approach to literature which focuses on how homosexuals are represented in literature, how they read literature, and whether sexuality and gender are culturally constructed or innate.
Queer Theory
A contemporary approach to literature and culture that assumes sexual identities are fluid, not fixed, and that critiques gender and sexuality as they are commonly conceived in Western culture.
New Historicism
A type of literary criticism that developed during the 1980's, largely in reaction to the text-only approach pursued by formalist New Critics and the critics who challenged the New Criticism in the 1970's. Like formalists and their critics, New Historicists acknowledge the importance of the literary text, but they also analyze the text with an eye to history.
Cultural Criticism
A critical approach with roots in the British cultural studies movement of the 1960's; a movement that reflected anc contributed to the unrest of that decade. It both fueled and was fueled by the challenges to tradition and authority apparent in everything.
Postcolonial Studies
The study of literature written by authors with roots in countries that were once colonies established by European nations; a field of intellectual inquiry that explores the situation of colonized peoples both during and after colonization.
Prejudice against (fear or dislike of) homosexual people and homosexuality.
Discrimination against homosexual people and in favor of heterosexual people.
A literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or work for comic effect or ridicule.
Referring to certain radically experimental works of art and literature produced after WWII.
The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that one particular race is superior to another.
The tendency to evaluate other groups based on the values and standards of one's own ethnic group, especially with the conviction that one's own group is superior to others.
The exploitation by a stronger country of a weaker one; the use of the weaker countries resources to strengthen and enrich the stronger country.
Perversion in which a person receives sexual gratification from seeing the genetalia of others or witnessing others' sexual behavior.
The relationship between texts or a text in relation to others.
Deriving meaning from the interdependent ways in which texts stand in relation to each other.
Passing referance or indirect mention.

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