noc18-hs31-Lecture 10-New Criticism | Summary and Q&A

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August 19, 2018
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IIT KANPUR-NPTEL
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noc18-hs31-Lecture 10-New Criticism

TL;DR

New Criticism, a literary theory that emerged after the First World War, focuses on the relationship between tradition and individual talent, and emphasizes close reading of the text rather than the author's intention or historical context.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is New Criticism, and how does it differ from previous literary theories?

New Criticism is a literary theory that emerged after the First World War, focusing on the relationship between tradition and individual talent, and emphasizing close reading. Unlike previous theories, it denies the importance of the author's personality and historical context, instead focusing solely on the language and structure of the text.

Q: What is the significance of tradition in New Criticism?

Tradition plays a central role in New Criticism, as it provides a temporal continuum into which the present work of art can be fitted. However, this engagement with tradition requires a tremendous amount of labor and continual self-sacrifice from the individual artist.

Q: What is close reading and why is it important in New Criticism?

Close reading is a method of literary analysis that focuses on the internal structure and language of a poem or literary work. It allows for a deeper understanding of the text's meaning and the complex patterns of ambiguity and symbolism within it. Close reading is important in New Criticism because it emphasizes the text itself, rather than the author's intention or historical context, as the basis for interpretation.

Q: How did New Criticism challenge the Romantic theory of poetry?

New Criticism challenged the Romantic theory of poetry by denying the importance of the poet's personality and individual expression in the creation and interpretation of poetry. Instead, New Criticism emphasized the role of tradition, close reading, and the language and structure of the text itself.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • New Criticism emerged after the First World War and was influenced by the sense of alienation and loss experienced during the war.

  • T.S. Eliot emphasized the importance of tradition and the continual labor and self-sacrifice required for an individual artist to engage with it.

  • I.A. Richards pioneered close reading, focusing on the internal structure of a poem or literary work, while denying the relevance of the poet's personality and historical context.

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