Literary Theories… Lets study

Critical theories like Formalism and Psychological study literature through the lens of a critic. Studying literature and analyzing its purpose helps us discover the human condition. Formalism or New Criticism is a literary study that focuses on the syntax and form of the text. Genre, form, meter beats and grammar are more important to understanding the meaning of a piece of literature.  This study critiques how the author uses words together to provide a meaning to the reader.

Unlike New Criticism theories, the Psychological theory is a literary study that focuses on the characters within a piece of literature. The characters behaviors, actions, reactions become the focus on the analysis. By stepping into the story or text, the psyche presents an understanding to the reader of the purpose of the piece. Both studies use literary techniques to provide insight to the overall meaning of a piece of literature.  Authors utilize literary elements to help a reader understand why something is written.

Clugston(2014) explains in section 1.1 of the text that

reading unlocks your imagination and connection sets the stage for intellectual engagement.”

Reading literature is a fundamental step into understanding a purpose of a text. It is this that makes Reader-Response theory of literary studies the most useful. Without an audience a piece of literature has little purpose and its meaning is lost or yet to be uncovered. It is the reader engagement that brings the text of a piece of literature to life and helps the reader gain insight into the human condition(Clugston,2014.section 1.1).

Literature that I have read lately and discussed in this  my recent Literature class has allowed me to explore human experiences and critically analyze each piece of literature. Describing our interpretation of the text and responding to literature is a personal activity that allows us to reflect on experiences within our own life(Clugston, 2014, section 2.1 Writing about what you read). As we progressed through the course the diverse perceptions of my classmates allowed me to consider many different conflicts that arise through our human development.

It is because each of us relate to literature differently that motivate us to write about how the text makes us feel and what emotions are generated through the connection process.

Do you feel  a deeper understanding for conflicts that occur within our society and life? and if so what conflicts do you see that within in your life that literature has helped you navigate?

For me,  I learned that literature has a purpose and responding to literature is a personal process that allows us to interpret the text and join the discussion on its literary meaning.  A discovery that explores the vast human ideologies and helps gain valuable insight about the human condition.

Clugston, R. W. (2014). Journey into literature (2nd ed.) [Electronic version].

Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/



  1. Pingback: Literary Theories… Lets study | Literature is….Lost | Literature is....Lost - September 8, 2015

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Author Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s in Journalism
  • Bachelor’s Mass Communication
  • Minor in Writing
  • Specialization
    • Environmental Science
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