Friday, January 30, 2009

Letter to Mom (Or, Crash Course in Modern and Postmodern Literary Theory: The Most Comprehensive Hyperlinked Glossary Ever Assembled)-- Lesson 3

Cluster 7: Psychoanalytic Criticism


OK, in this last installment we’ll be covering clusters 7, 8 and 9. Just in case you'd like to review, here are the first and second installments. I’m in a hurry, so we’re going to have to make this quick.

Cluster 7 is concerned with Freudian literary criticism. Key terms include displacement, projection and introjections, the uncanny, the unconscious, psychological repression, Oedipus complex, condensation, sublimation, and the arche. I'm sure you're familiar with some of these terms from your New Age psychobabble self-help books. Just be careful not to confuse Freudianism with the more popular "vulgar Freudianism."

And if we’re going to talk about Freud, we’ll also have to spend some time on Carl Jung and his analytical psychology and notion of the collective unconscious. Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye borrowed Jung’s collective unconscious and applied it to literature, producing what is now known as archetypal literary criticism. Some key terms of his include the four mythoi (romance, tragedy, comedy and satire) and menippean satire.

Next is Michel Foucault. Key terms: sexuality, archaeology of knowledge, panopticon, episteme (2), and transgression strategy. Again, some of the links might not exactly match up, so you may have to do a little sifting.

Thanks to Slavok Zizek, French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan has been revived in recent years. His key ideas: structure of the psyche (the real, the imaginary, the symbolic), imaginary/symbolic/real, other, name-of-the-father, the gaze, and desire/lack. Also see Slavok Zizek’s “How to Read Lacan,” which is available on this most excellent site.

There’s also Bulgarian-French philosopher and critic Julia Kristeva, whose key terms include: the semiotic and symbolic, phenotext and genotext, and abjection. You’ll also want to look into Melanie Klein’s object-relations theory.
Cluster 8: Postmodernism

Now on to postmodernism. Because postmodernism is more of a historical condition than a particular theory of philosophy or art, I’ve included only two names in this cluster. The first is late French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard, who famously said postmodernism is characterized by a general skepticism toward metanarratives and totalization. The other is American Marxist Frederic Jameson. Here’s a summary of his works; some of his key terms: late capitalism, the political unconscious, the postmodern condition, pastiche, strategy of containment, and ideologeme.
Cluster 9: Feminism and Gender

Finally, there’s feminism and gender. I think H. Bloom refers to this as the "school of resentment." Some of their key terms: sexism, misogyny, homophobia, androgyny, and phallogocentrism. Feminist and gender criticism has its roots in Engels, who was among the first to examine Europe’s patriarchal system. You’ll also want to look at these key terms: patriarchy in feminism, matriarchy, androcentric/gynocentric, and phallocentrism.

Also familiarize yourself with the Bloomsbury group, the Fabian Society (which included E.M. Forster and Virginia Woolf), and Kate Millet and the radical feminists. You’ll also want to look into Elain Showalter’s notion of gynocriticism, and critic Toril Moi, and Linda Hutcheon’s narcissistic narrative.

Oh, and don't leave out A.D. Nutall’s notion of transparent criticism (eg, Aristotle's formal descriptions) vs. opaque criticism (eg, Derrida's criticism), and Judith Butler on performativity. And while you’re on Butler you might want to take a look at her writings on Zionism.

Also look at Belgian feminist Luce Irigaray and her logic of the same, and Ecriture feminine. Also: Judith Fetterley's notion of resistant reading, and interrogation.

Lastly, we’ll finish this cluster off with a little gay and lesbian criticism, looking at American critic Eve Sedgwick and her notions of homosocial and homodiegetic storytelling.

This concludes our three-part lesson, Mother. You can go back to your New Age self-help books now, hopefully with a new perspective. To review, here are Lessons 1 and 2.
Your dutiful son,


Jarvis32 said...
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Jarvis32 said...
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Jarvis32 said...

What about Cluster 10? In your January 21st post, you promised to give us a Cluster 10 dealing with "Miscellany." Do you renege?


Anonymous said...
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Ian Hogarth said...

"Lastly, we’ll finish this cluster off with a little gay and lesbian criticism . . ."

How 'bout I finish you off with a little gay and lesbian criticism!

Anonymous said...

What the hell are you talking about? Mother

Anonymous said...

Here's the final Cluster 10. It was leaked to me by an unnamed source.

Cluster 10: Miscellany

“Faction” or non-fiction novel (eg, Capote’s In Cold Blood)

Nouveau roman, Robbe-Grillet

Frederick Crews: critical of critical trends, “new Americanism”

Ernst Robert Curtius: topos, commonplaces, metaphors we come back to

Parody, travesty (ie, M.H. Abrams’s burlesque)

Kenneth Burke: dramatism
Utopia, dystopia:

Picaresque novel:

Figurative language: alliteration, tonzetsuho, abridgement, exaggeration, kanjoho, metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, simile, anthropomorphism, irony, antithesis.

Umberto Eco: open work/closed work,


Revenge tragedy: Spanish Tragedy and Hamlet, Jew of Malta

Gustav Freytag: Freytag’s pyramid (dramatic structure)

Flat/Round Character (E.M. Forster):

Dynamic/Static Character (

Claude Levi-Strauss: bricolage, myth

Analytic philosophy:

Matthew Arnold: Hebraism and Hellenism


Subject/subjectivity: position

Textual Criticism (eg, biblical scholars)

Minor literature (eg Kafka): Deleuze and Guattari

Magic realism (art critic Franz Roh’s term): Gabriel Garcia Marquez, J.L. Borges, Bulgakov, Rushdie (Midnight’s Children), Grass, Yoshimoto Banana, Toni Morrison

Mise-en-abyme (eg, “play within a play,” “Chinese box narrative”)): Andre Gide (complex metafiction-esque romans and simple recit), Italo Calvino, Shakespeare, etc.

Futurism: Filippo Marinetti, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Guillaume Apollinaire

Proust: involuntary memory (also Benjamin, Bergson)

Metatheatre (Pirandello, Shakespeare, Beckett):

Metafiction (Vonnegut, Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, Chaucer, Fowles, D. Lessing, Cervantes, Gide’s The Counterfeiters, :

Hayden White: emplotment, historiography, metahistory, four poetic structures used by historian (metaphor, synecdoche, metonymy, irony)



reading position:

motif, leitmotif:


Marshall McLuhan: hot and cool media, literacy, medium is the message, global village,

Liminality: Arnold van Gennep


historical novel (war and peace, hunchback of notre dame, tale of two cities):

(roman-) feuilleton (balzac, sand, dumas, dickens, trollope, pynchon):


romance (quest literature from medieval times to present):

roman noir (black novel), film noir:

Anagoge (spiritual interpretation; one of four ways to interpret scripture, others: literal, allegorical, moral): F. Jameson

anaphora (emphasis of words/phrases by repetition):

Annales School (historiography)

alazon and eiron

Walter Benjamin: allegory

angry young men:

Ubi sunt (where now?)

E.D. Hirsch: meaning (intended by author)/significance (perceived by critic or reader); cultural literacy

well-made play (19th c. French form later used and parodied by Ibsen, Wilde, etc):

periphrasis (euphemism)

Riffaterre’s hypogram (i.e., paragram or anagram, or hidden text within text)

Richard Rorty and New Pragmatism

Danse macabre

figure poem (i.e., pattern poem)

Suspension of disbelief, als ob


Paradigms and Syntagms

Thomas Kuhn: paradigm, paradigm shift

and Keats’s negative capability

-Josh Wolfenstein

Anonymous said...

Oh, and here's a good summary of N. Frye's ideas. Pay close attention to his four types of fiction.

Josh Meteless

Anonymous said...

Add these to your list:

Gianni Vattimo, on "weak thought."

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. :

Edmund Husserl and Phenomenology:


Beholdmyswarthyface said...

Add to this the following entry on Peter Brooks, from his book Reading For the Plot :