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LITERARY
APPRECIATION AND
CRITICISM

LITERARY APPRECIATION AND CRITICISM | GROUP I


TOPICS
(Literary Criticism)
The Definition of Literary Appreciation
and Criticism

The Five Codes

Post-Structuralism

Readerly And Writerly Text

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LITERARY APPRECIATION

- refers to the evaluation of works


of imaginative literature as an
intellectual or academic exercise.’
In this process the reader
interprets, evaluates or classifies
a literary work with a view to
determining the artistic merits or
demerits or such a work.

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Donelson and Nilsen (2009)


echo this sentiment and add that it is the
process by which one ‘gauges one’s
interpretive response as a reader to a
literary work’. This means that the reader is
able to gain pleasure and understanding for
the literature, understand its value and
importance and admire its complexity.

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Nilsen and Donelson (2005) further determined that a main goal of


teaching literature is to elicit a response from students so they can
explore their own lives and improve their logical thinking skills.
Therefore, the key to developing appreciation for reading is first
selecting appropriate adolescent literature in which students can
identify and make connections. This can foster love for reading and
improve their language arts skills as well.

LITERARY APPRECIATION AND CRITICISM | GROUP I


LITERARY APPRECIATION focuses on the adequate
grasp of the definitions and applications of traditional
literary devices such as plot, character, metaphor, setting
and symbolism which may be encountered within texts.

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According to Donelson and Nilsen (2009), literary appreciation occurs in seven stages.
Level 1: Pleasure and Profit (literary appreciation is a social experience)
Level 2: Decoding (literacy is developed)
Level 3: Lose yourself (reading becomes a means of escaping)
Level 4: Find yourself (discovering identity)
Level 5: Venture beyond self (‘going beyond me’, assessing the world around them)
Level 6: Variety in reading (reads widely and discusses experiences with peers)
Level 7: Aesthetic purposes (avid reader, appreciates the artistic value of reading)

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Margaret Early’s Stages of Growth in Literary Appreciation


determines that the personal attitudes, reading and observing
skills are all part of literary appreciation. Stages which readers
go through are added unto without dropping the previous
stages. Thus, literary appreciation is a lifelong process.
However, occasionally students are ill-equipped to handle
transition from childhood literature to adolescent literature and
fail at establishing literary appreciation.

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This may occur as a result of a student’s late or early cognitive


maturity. As teachers, we must understand that in order to
appreciate literature students must experience pleasure from their
reading. Transaction reading journals and literature circles can be
helpful as students can document their progress and reflect on
them. They should be provided with a forum to respond to literature
in the classroom, discuss personal responses, ideas and
deductions with other students. This will also allow them to make
text to text connections.

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Knickerbocker and Rycik (2002) asserts that it is


important to understand literary development that
teachers should consider students stages of
development and select materials and methods
appropriate to them. This sentiment is supported by
Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development at which
children are said to go through mental development at
different ages. They affirm that each level must provide
a sense of satisfaction for the reader if he or she is
expected to move unto the next stage.

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Literary Criticism
and Interpretation:
An Introduction

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What Is Interpretation?
In general, to interpret something is to make it
personally meaningful. Our brain takes raw data
from the senses and makes it meaningful by
relating it to our previous experiences. When we
read or hear a sentence, we put the words together
into a meaningful whole, rather than just noting their
separate dictionary definitions. Most everyday
language is fairly straightforward and requires little
interpretation. Because literature presents us with
more than one possible meaning, interpreting
literature requires more care and attention.

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Why Should We Interpret Literature?
Authors of fiction, poetry, or drama choose
literature for their expression because they believe
that there are at least two valid sides to any major
issue--not just a simple right and wrong. Reading
and interpreting literature, then, nourishes us with a
sense of the complexity of life's deepest mysteries-
- love, hate, death, conflicts between the individual
and society, and so on--so that when we approach
these problems we do so with greater self-
awareness and greater tolerance for the views of
others.

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LITERARY CRITICISM
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of
literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary
theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and
goals. Though the two activities are closely related, literary
critics are not always, and have not always been, theorists.

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HISTORY OF CLASSICAL AND MEDIEVAL DEFINITION OF LITERARY


HISTORY
CRITICISM CRITICISM
LITERARY
CRITICISM

Aristotle’s Poetics clearly defines aspects of


literature and introduces many literary terms still
used today.

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HISTORY OF LITERARY CLASSICAL AND DEFINITION OF LITERARY


HISTORY
CRITICISM CRITICISM
MEDIEVAL
CRITICISM

Literary criticism has probably existed for as long as literature. In the 4th century BC Aristotle
wrote the Poetics, a typology and description of literary forms with many specific criticisms of
contemporary works of art. Poetics developed for the first time the concepts of mimesis and
catharsis, which are still crucial in literary study. Plato’s attacks on poetry as imitative,
secondary, and false were formative as well. Around the same time, Bharata Muni, in
his Natya Shastra, wrote literary criticism on ancient Indian literature and Sanskrit drama.

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HISTORY OF LITERARY CLASSICAL AND DEFINITION OF LITERARY


HISTORY
CRITICISM CRITICISM
MEDIEVAL
CRITICISM
Later classical and medieval criticism often focused on religious texts,
and the several long religious traditions of hermeneutics and textual
exegesis have had a profound influence on the study of secular texts.
This was particularly the case for the literary traditions of the three
Abrahamic religions: Jewish literature, Christian literature and Islamic
literature.

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HISTORY OF LITERARY CLASSICAL AND DEFINITION OF LITERARY


HISTORY
CRITICISM CRITICISM
MEDIEVAL
CRITICISM

Literary criticism was also employed in other forms of medieval Arabic


literature and Arabic poetry from the 9th century, notably by Al-Jahiz
in his al-Bayan wa-‘l-tabyin and al-Hayawan, and by Abdullah ibn al-
Mu’tazz in his Kitab al-Badi.

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HISTORY OF LITERARY CLASSICAL AND MEDIEVAL DEFINITION OF HISTORY


CRITICISM CRITICISM
LITERARY
CRITICISM

Literary criticism is simply the attempt to explain a literary


work. A literary critic is one who explains or interprets a
literary work–its meaning, production, aestheticism, and
historical value.

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HISTORY OF LITERARY CLASSICAL AND MEDIEVAL DEFINITION OF LITERARY


CRITICISM CRITICISM CRITICISM HISTORY

The history of literary criticism dates back to Plato and Aristotle. Both
philosophers expressed ground breaking opinions about literature,
specifically on the issues of literary mimesis (imitation and
representation) and didacticism. Literary mimesis asks the question,
“Does literature imitate life, or does life imitate literature?”
Didacticism in literature asks the question, “How does the text lend
itself as an instructional or moral guide to life?”

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The
Five
Codes

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Introduction
ROLAND BARTHES’ FIVE CODES Barthes presents his theory of five
codes to understand the underlying structure of a text. He proposed
that these five codes are the basic underlying structures of all
narratives (Barry, 2002, p.151). After a close scrutiny of a literary text
against these codes, the text can be categorized for its form and
genre. In other words, through the study of these codes we can either
recognize that which genre the text belongs to, or recognize the
characteristics of an already established genre. A brief description of
these codes is necessary before moving any further.

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Roland Barthes (1915-80) was a prolific French literary critic whose eclectic
interests led him to write on topics as diverse as photography, advertising,
film, and even fashion. Although regarded as a semiologist, Barthes' s methods
go far beyond semiology and are difficult to categorize into anyone trend of
literary criticism. The analytical technique with which the present study is
concerned comes from his large 1970 essay S/Z, an exhaustive analysis of
Honore de Balzac's novella Sarrasine. 4 Barthes sections the text of the novella
into 561 segments, or "lexias," which vary in length from one word (as in the
case of the title) to several sentences. Barthes works with one lexia at a time
but creates a system of cross-references among different lexias.

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Through this method, Barthes tracks linearly all of the various


processes involved in the reader's interpretation of a narrative text.
After presenting each segment of text, Barthes identifies which of
the codes are operative in that segment, that is, by means of which
codes the reader processes the story to derive meaning from it.
Barthes formulates five codes, each of which has roots in a
different aspect of literary analysis. The first of these codes is the
hermeneutic code, which governs the proposing, sustaining and
resolution of enigmas.

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Small enigmas might be solved quickly, while major enigmas,


those which are integral to maintaining suspense in the text's plot,
are prolonged through various means. The semic code is the code
of character. Through it, the writer unfolds the personalities of the
characters of the story. The symbolic code refers to the symbolic
antitheses which are so prevalent in classical literature: for
example, references to life and death, hot and cold, youth and
age, etc. The proairetic code is the most basic of the codes: it is
the sequence of events and actions that make up the plot of the
story as it unfolds.

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THE FIVE CODES


Click Hermeneutic Code
Semic Code
Symbolic Code
Proairetic Code
Cultural Code

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THE FIVE CODES


Hermeneutic
Code
Click Semic Code
(the voice of truth)
Symbolic Code

The code of enigmas or puzzles.


Proairetic Code

Cultural Code

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THE FIVE CODES


Hermeneutic Code

(the voice of the person)


Semic Code

Symbolic Code
The accumulation of connotations.
Semes, sequential thoughts, traits and
Proairetic Code actions constitute character. “The proper
noun surrounded by connotations.”
Cultural Code

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THE FIVE CODES


Hermeneutic Code

(voice of the symbol)


Semic Code

Symbolic Binary oppositions or themes. The


Code inscription into the text of the antithesis
Proairetic Code central to the organization of the cultural
code.
Cultural Code

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THE FIVE CODES


Hermeneutic Code

(the voice of empirics)


Semic Code

Symbolic Code
The code of actions. Any action initiated
must be completed. The cumulative
Proairetic actions constitute the plot events of the
Code
text.
Cultural Code

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THE FIVE CODES


Hermeneutic Code
(the voice of science [or knowledge])
Semic Code
Though all codes are cultural we reserve
Symbolic Code this designation for the storehouse of
knowledge we use in interpreting
Proairetic Code
everyday experience.
Cultural Code

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POST-STRUCTURALISM

Rejects the idea of a literary text Hold that language is not a transparent medium that
having a single purpose, a single connects one directly with a “truth” or “reality” outside it
meaning or one single but rather a structure or code, whose parts derive their
existence. Instead every meaning from their contrast with one another and not
individual reader creates a new from any connection with an outside world.
and individual purpose,
meaning, and existence for a
May be understood as a critical response to the basic
given text..
assumptions of Structuralism, but there are differences:

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POST-STRUCTURALISM
Structuralist Post- Structuralist
derives ultimately from philosophy.
Nietzsche-
Origin derives ultimately from linguistics.
“There are no facts,
only interpretations.”
Structuralist writings tend towards Post-structuralist writing, by contrast,
abstraction and generalization: it tends to be much more emotive. Often
Tone and Style aims for a detached, „scientific the tone is urgent and euphoric, and the
coolness‟ of tone. style flamboyant and self-consciously
showy

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POST-STRUCTURALISM
Post-structuralism is much more
fundamentalist in insisting upon the
Structuralists accept that the world consequences of the view that, in
is constructed through language in effect, reality itself is textual. Post-
Attitude to language the sense that we do not have structuralism develops what threaten to
access to reality other than become terminal anxieties about the
through the linguistic medium. possibility of achieving
any
knowledge through language.

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POST-STRUCTURALISM
It distrusts the very notion of reason, and
the idea of the human being
Questions our way of structuring and as an independent entity, preferring the
categorizing reality, notion of the „dissolved‟ or constructed‟
and prompts us to break free of habitu subject, whereby what we may think of as
Fundamental Aims
al modes of perception orcategorisatio the
n, but it believes that we can thereby individual is really a product of social and
attain a more reliable view of things linguistic forces- that is,
not an essence at all, merely a „tissue of
textualities‟.

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In the Post-Structuralist approach to textual


analysis, the reader replaces the author as the Writers whose work is often
primary subject of inquiry and, without a central characterized as post-structuralist
fixation on the author, Post-Structuralists include Jacques Derrida, Michel
examine other sources for meaning (e.g., readers, Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Judith
cultural norms, other literature, etc), which are are Butler, Jean Baudrillard and Julia
therefore never authoritative, and promise no Kristeva, although many theorists
consistency. A reader's culture and society, then, who have been called "post-
share at least an equal part in the interpretation of a structuralist" have rejected the
piece to the cultural and social circumstances of label.
the author.

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SOME PROPONENTS OF POST STRUCTURALISM 38

Jacques Derrida
- was one of the first to propose some theoretical
limitations to Structuralism, and identified an apparent de-
stabilizing or de-centring in intellectual life (referring to the
displacement of the author of a text as having greatest effect on a
text itself, in favour of the various readers of the text), which came
to be known as Post-Structuralism.
- argued that meaning has a performative, practical dimension not
associated with an originating subjectivity. Meaning is renewed or
transformed through such performances.

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Roland Barthes
“The Death of the Author‟
- asserts, rhetorically, the independence of
the literary text and its immunity to the
possibility of being unified or limited by any
notion of what the author might have
intended, or „crafted‟ into the work.
The death of the author is the birth of
the reader.

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KEY ASSUMPTIONS UNDERLYING POST-STRUCTURALISM INCLUDE
 The concept of "self" as a singular and coherent entity is a fictional construct, and an
individual rather comprises conflicting tensions and knowledge claims (e.g. gender, class,
profession, etc). The interpretation of meaning of a text is therefore dependent on a
reader's own personal concept of self.
 An author's intended meaning (although the author's own identity as a stable "self" with a
single, discernible "intent" is also a fictional construct) is secondary to the meaning that the
reader perceives, and a literary text (or, indeed, any situation where a subject perceives
a sign) has no single purpose, meaning or existence.
 It is necessary to utilize a variety of perspectives to create a multi-faceted interpretation of
a text, even if these interpretations conflict with one another.

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WHAT POST-STRUCTURALIST CRITICS DO?

The read the text against itself, where meanings are expressed which may be
directly contrary to the surface meaning.
Gives importance to words similarities in sound, the root meanings of words,
added metaphor.
The text is characterized by disunity rather than unity.
Concentrate on a single passage and analyze it so intensively. Results into
multiplicities of meaning.

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EXAMPLE OF LITERARY PIECE THAT APPLIES POST
STRUCTURALISM

“Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost


This short poem, outlines the familiar question about the fate of the
world, wondering if it is more likely to be destroyed by fire or ice.
The central tension in the poem structured around the preference of fire
over ice. The narrator first concludes that the world must end in fire after
considering his personal experience with desire and passion, the
emotions of fire. Yet, after considering his
experience with “ice,” or hatred, the narrator acknowledges that ice woul
d be equally destructive.
Poet takes fire as a symbol of emotions, passion, desires and life. In the
other hand he takes ice for coldness, death, harshness of emotions and
frigidity.

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READERLY AND WRITERLY


TEXT

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Readerly Text
Barthes argues that most texts are readerly texts. Such texts are associated
with classic texts that are presented in a familiar, linear, traditional manner,
adhering to the status quo in style and content. Meaning is fixed and pre-
determined so that the reader is a site merely to receive information. These
texts attempt, through the use of standard representations and dominant
signifying practices, to hide any elements that would open up the text to
multiple meaning. Readerly texts support the commercialized values of the
literary establishment and uphold the view of texts as disposable
commodities.

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Writerly Text
By contrast, writerly texts reveal those elements that the readerly attempts to conceal.
The reader, now in a position of control, takes an active role in the construction of
meaning. The stable meaning, or metanarratives, of readerly texts is replaced by a
proliferation of meanings and a disregard of narrative structure. There is a multiplicity of
cultural and other ideological indicators (codes) for the reader to uncover. What Barthes
describes as “ourselves writing” is a self-conscious expression aware of the discrepancy
between artifice and reality. The writerly text destabilizes the reader’s expectations. The
reader approaches the text from an external position of subjectivity. By turning the
reader into the writer, writerly texts defy the commercialization and commodification of
literature.

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Barthes & the Ideal Text

Barthes identifies the writerly text as the dominant mode in modern mythological
culture in which forms of representation seek to continually blur the divisions
between the real and the artificial. He proposes that the ideal text blurs the
distinction between the reader and writer:
• the networks are many and interact, without any one of them being able to
surpass the rest; this text is a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds; it has
no beginning; it is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of
which can be authoritatively declared to be the main one; the codes it mobilizes
extend as far as the eye can reach, they are indeterminable . . .
• the systems of meaning can take over this absolutely plural text, but their number
is never closed, based as it is on the infinity of language (S/Z 5).

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Hypertext possesses many of the qualities Barthes identifies in the
ideal text. In hypertext, the presentation of material is non-linear. It is
text that branches, links, and connects, allowing information to be
understood in random sequence. The nature or order of meaning is
not pre-determined by the author, but is rather an interactive activity
in which the reader is free to take any chosen direction. Hypertext is
composed of lexias. Lexias are blocks of text connected via verbal and
non-verbal links. It is a medium of information that connects words
(language) with external commentaries, related or contrary texts —
all towards determining the underlying conceptual and ideological
structure of the text.

LITERARY APPRECIATION AND CRITICISM | GROUP I


Thank You

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