ENG301 literary terms andtheory study notes

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New Criticism: also known as formalism. Prominent from the 1940s to 60s. 1) Focus on the text and not other factors. 2) Focus on words, figures of speech and symbols. 3) Formalists do explication or close readings.

First person: limits narrative to what the first person narrator knows or experiences.

Second person: narrator addresses someone as “you”; the person addressed may be the reader, someone else or even the narrator

Third person: narrator reports actions in a story using “he,” “she” and “they”

Omniscient point of view: narrator knows everything about characters and events in story

Limited point of view: narrator uses third person but stays in confines of what one character knows

Oedipus complex: repressed desire of boys for their mothers and to get their fathers out of the way

Id: unconscious part of psyche that incorporates libidinous and other desires

Superego: internalization of external standards of morality and propriety

Ego: the predominantly conscious and rational “I” which manages conflicts between the id, the superego and reality

Lacan: added language to Freud’s theories of psyche and gender

Imaginary stage: pre-oedipal, pre-verbal stage of development in which there is no distinction between self and others

Mirror stage: second stage of development, in which the child starts to develop a sense of self

Symbolic stage: oedipal stage in which child develops language and sees gender differences; child sees binary oppositions in language and learns about patriarchial privilege

North American feminists: encourage resisting readers to see patriarchial values in works; want to recover lost female voices

British feminists: interested in class, cultural and other differences among women

French feminists: more concerned with how language shapes gender than real world oppression

Resisting readers: should notice and reject bias (particularly gender) in classic texts by male authors

Essentialists: believe that women are essentially different from men even before any socialization (e.g. women are naturally nurturing)

Constructionists: believe differences between men and women are constructed by society not nature

Sex: anatomically male or female

Gender: traits considered masculine or feminine by society

Phallogocentric: idea that our language is male-dominated with the phallus as its center and privileged signifier

Semiotic: pre-linguistic, pre-oedipal stage centered on the mother, from which women and some men can write

Symbolic: father-centered, syntactically ordered and logical language

New Historicists: believe that literature and history are not separate but mixed together

Referentiality: belief that literature refers to and is referred to by things outside itself

Base: economics is the infrastructure that creates the superstructure of culture

Superstructure: culture (law, politics, philosophy, religion and art) created on the base of economics

Marxist critics: believe that consciousness is the product, not the creator, of economics and society

Hegemony: idea that a social class achieves dominance by making its views so pervasive that the oppressed unwittingly participate in their own oppression

Deconstructionists: point out already existing contradictions in texts to show one cannot be certain of any one meaning

Logocentrism: discourse predominante in Western culture that is centered around an original word or reason that orders everything else

Différance: words are understood through difference but complete understanding of meaning is deferred

Metonymy: comparision of two things of which one is a part; White House to refer the government

Signifier: a word used to represent an object or concept

Signified: an object or concept represented by a word

Aporia: deadlock of contradictory meanings which cannot be broken or resolved

Ambiguity: tension caused by paradox but still regarded by formalists as part of a unified whole

Undecidability: imcompatible meanings in a text seen as unreconcilable by deconstructionists