Theory

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Theoretical paradigms

Literature is a field of study. It is categorisation of all written (and some multimedia) texts that engage to some extent in narrative storytelling. It covers early Greek theatre, ancient mythologies, classical romance and gothic, horror verses weird, modern, post-modern, paranormal romance and so much more. It is a vast and unwieldy monster of source material.

As such, to make sense of it literary critics engage most often with literary theory – lenses and concepts that can be applied to categories of works. These range again widely: genre, feminist, post-colonial, structural, mimetic, queer – theories, etc. The use of these different lenses is important as it helps to highlight the various hidden, intended or contested views within different literature. It also helps make sense of the context in which a text is produced, and reflected on through the context in which it is being examined.

However, for many the plethora of literary theory is a terribly daunting and overwhelming spectrum. I would propose a great article that would help many would be to take a single text, one not too complex or long, and apply the different lenses to show how they work. Actually what would be excellent would be if a few people took on this topic with different texts (some old, some new) to help show the diversity of theory.

  • Excellent idea. This is definitely a topic worthy of approval and important. Literary theory is messy with its multiple categories and subcategories. I would suggest that anyone who takes upon this task takes a "Intro to Lit Theory" approach and perhaps chooses (for instance) 5 main theories for analysis. Sub genres could be listed later without going into detail. For example, within romantic literature gothic as a horror genre come forth. But gothic in itself has already split into post colonial gothic. Therefore, Romantic would be your main point off analysis, but later a small paragraph on its fruits of gothic could be 'listed' to help simply this heavy topic. – Pamela Maria 2 years ago
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  • @Joseph. Part of what I'm trying to highlight is what Pamela has identified above, which is this is such a messy category that it cannot be narrowed easily down. I could just put forward a topic such as Feminism Readings, but even that has so much contextual weight in literary theory to be enormous. Instead what I want people to consider with this topic is that these are simply categories designed to help a theorist expand on the knowledge already present within either the text or the society in which the reader exists. I don't necessarily see an issue in having multiple people take on this topic, and it something that could work quite well on this site with so many disparate viewpoints. – SaraiMW 2 years ago
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  • I also agree that this is a great topic, but could turn into a daunting article. Perhaps this could be a series set for decoding different fields of literature - ex. one article for post-colonial literary theory, one for queer literary theory, one for genre, - etc. Someone could tackle these one by one, or a whole host of folks address topics they feel best suited to. – LoganG 2 years ago
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