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English, Language & Literature Subject Guide: Literary Theory and Criticism

Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism

Literary theories are ideas that "act as different lenses critics use to view and talk about art, literature, and even culture. These different lenses allow critics to consider works of art based on certain assumptions within that school of theory. The different lenses also allow critics to focus on particular aspects of a work they consider important.

For example, if a critic is working with certain Marxist theories, s/he might focus on how the characters in a story interact based on their economic situation. If a critic is working with post-colonial theories, s/he might consider the same story but look at how characters from colonial powers (Britain, France, and even America) treat characters from, say, Africa or the Caribbean" (Purdue OWL, n.d.)

Books and eBooks on Literary Theory and Criticism

Useful Databases

Helpful Videos

Methodology: An Introduction to Literary Theory by The Nature of Writing via Youtube

The History of Literary Theory from Plato to the Romantics by Dr. Scott Masson via YouTube

How to Analyze Literature by HACC at Central Pennsylvania's Community College via YouTube