Formalism and New Criticism Show more Show less
These theories focus on the text alone as the sole determiner of meaning.
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The text alone determines its meaning
When trying to interpret a literary work, readers should pay close attention to the text itself, disregarding outside influences. This method emphasizes close reading, form, irony, paradox, symbols, patterns, and allusions.
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In order to interpret a text correctly, readers must pay close attention to the text alone. They must look at the text itself, not at the things happening around it, like historical context, the author's interpretation of their work, or their own feelings about it. These things distract from the text. Ignoring outside influences leads to a purely objective, and therefore correct, interpretation of the work. New Criticism takes a somewhat scientific approach to literary criticism. It gives readers a methodical way of arriving at the text's meaning. If readers give the text a close reading, analyze the work's form, and note any instances of paradox, irony, patterns, symbols, or allusions, they can interpret the text correctly. Famous advocates of this method include Robert Penn Warren, Cleanth Brooks, and John Crowe Ransom, the founder of this school of criticism.