Collaborative final exam review

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:20 am by Dominique

Hi all,

During our last class I mentioned that we would prepare for the final exam by collectively reviewing terminology we’ve discussed over the course of the semester. I’ve listed that terminology below and assigned a few definitions (anywhere from one to three, depending of the complexity of the term) to each of you. Please post your responses by noon on Tuesday so that I can view them before the review session. Also, I invite you to post one question about identifying or applying any critical perspective we’ve discussed this semester underneath your definitions.

Various members of the class have also requested an additional review session. That extra session will be held on Tuesday, December 20th, from 11:30-1 pm. (I will check to make sure our classroom is free at that time.)

Please be careful and thorough as your compile your definitions, as others will be referring to them as they study. If you have not filled in a definition on your handout from class, go back to Bressler’s Literary Criticism to define it. **Note:  the terms that you’ve been assigned appear BELOW your name. Please post your terms as a comment on this post.

Formalism/New Criticism






intentional fallacy

affective fallacy



organic unity

an objective theory of art







central paradox

Reader-response or “Reader-oriented criticism”


transactional experience

efferent reading

aesthetic reading





horizon of expectations


subjective criticism


interpretive community











differance (Derrida)



binary opposition

 New Historicism and Postcolonialism


Foucault’s interpretation of the panopticon

Culture (according to Stephen Greenblatt, Raymond Williams, and Foucault)


counterhistories (Geertz)








Oedipus complex

Lacan’s mirror stage


“the Real” (Lacan)

collective unconscious (Jung)

Feminism and gender criticism





A Vindication of the Rights of Women (Wollstonecraft, 1792)


essentialist approach to gender

constructionist approach to gender






alienation effect (Brecht)

hegemony (Gramsci)


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  1.    marissae17 said,

    December 12, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Reader-Response: After the word I will give my interpretation then after the B: is the definition from Bressler

    Subjective Critics: Different readers will interpret texts differently depending on their own life experiences.

    B: N/A

    Intertextuality: It is the shape of a text’s meaning by other texts. It can be the authors reference or the readers referencing of one text to the reading.

    B: A term denoting that any given text’s meaning or interpretation is related or interrelated to the meaning of all other texts. Hence, no text can be interpreted in isolation, and all texts are intertextual.

    Interpretive Community: The text does not have meaning outside a set of cultural assumptions regarding what the characters mean and how they should be interpreted.

    B: A term coined by the reader-oriented critic Stanley Fish to designate a group of readers who share the same interpretive strategies.

  2.    GordonWTam said,

    December 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    A favorite term of Claude Levi-Strauss, a mytheme is an important building block of language and a deconstructive lens. A Mytheme gains meaning through MYTHS (hence, MYTHemes), or ideas that have transcended time. Usually put in binary opposition with each other, Bressler gives examples such as Hating and Loving one’s parents, falling in love with someone who does or does not love you, and so forth. We see these ideas employed in our favorite texts, like Romeo loving Juliet, Batman loving then losing his parents, and then we see similar things in new texts. In basic, a mytheme is the idea that we use time and time again.

    Another Eme. Narratemes have another name, narrative function. If a mytheme follows a given myth, a narrateme is the order of sequences that this myth or idea happens. A basic narrateme described in Bressler gives a good example.
    1. A lack of something exists.
    2. The lack forces a hero to go on a quest to eliminate this lack
    3. On the quest, the hero meets a magical helper
    4. The hero is subjected to one or more tests
    5. After passing test, hero receives reward.

    Question for thought:
    What kind of narratemes are employed in your favorite ongoing television shows?
    ex. Batman the Animated Series
    1. A Villain is created
    2. Villain commits a crime, drawing Batmans attention
    3. Batman does battle with villain, maybe going through obstacles to do so
    4. Batman wins, we wait for the next episode

  3.    acervinaro90 said,

    December 12, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Lacan’s concept of “the Real”:
    Lacan’s the real is his third order which has two parts to it. On the one hand it consists of the real world for example “the material universe and everything in it. On the other hand it symbolizes what a person really isn’t. The Bressler book describes Lacan’s meaning in these words “Lacan would say the real order contains countless objet petit a, objects that continually function for us as symbols of primordial lack.” (Bressler 136) He says that because these parts are not really part of us we can’t really understand them except through language. Lacan believed that to reach the real was almost impossible because the real is outside language. Lacan also writes about the fact that literature has the ability to capture “jouissance” which is after reading something we are able to bring up a memory which relates to what we read, but this would not be reaching the real because the real does not have to do with literature or words.

    Carl Jung’s “collective unconscious”:
    In Bressler they write the meaning of the “collective unconscious is “that part of the psyche that is more impersonal and universal than the personal conscious or the personal unconscious.” Such as people from all over the world may react to a certain myth or story in the same way, not because everyone agrees with the same story, but because “lying deep in our collective unconscious are the species’ memories of humanity’s past.” (Bressler 131) All these memories exist in archetypes according to Jung. He defines them as “patterns or images of repeated human experiences.” (Bressler 131) Some examples of these experiences are birth, death, motherhood, etc.

    Alessandra Cervinaro

  4.    victoriane said,

    December 12, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Id- The irrational, unknown, instinctual, and unconscious part of the psyche as differentiated from the ego and superego. Ex: dark wishes, animal instinct etc.

    Ego- The rational, logical, waking part of the psyche as differentiated from id and superego. Ex: the “I”

    Superego- The part of the psyche that acts like an internal censor, causing us to make moral judgment in light of social pressure as differentiated from the id and the ego.

  5.    seng101 said,

    December 12, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    New Historicism and Postcolonialism

    Counterhistories- Are alternative perspectives of an incident or era presented by voices that usually go unheard in a monolithic interpretation of history. Anecdotes such as the ones found in a personal diary can be used to reveal power structures and relationships not found in traditional histories.

    Subaltern- Articulating feelings, concerns, and assumptions about the nature of reality in a particular culture without feeling being treated as marginal, minor, or insignificant participants.

  6.    amark916 said,

    December 13, 2011 at 12:46 am

    Patriarchy- Rules of society and culture by men through the power they possess. Men decide what it means to be human and what it means to be female.

    Phallocentrism- the belief that the phallus (symbol of male sex organ) is the source of power in the culture and literature which is usually accompanied by male centered-dominant patriarchal assumptions.

  7.    kocampo100 said,

    December 13, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Essentialism- asserts that the true essence or identity of an individual is composed of finite and fixed properties that are the essential components of what it means to be human. Essentialists believe that to be human means having an unchangeable human nature, a true and individual essence.

    Constructivism- reject essentialism, constructivists argue that there exist no inner core of human essence that can be defined with finite terms. All terms used to describe people are socially constructed and steeped in ideological assumptions; these terms must be deconstructed before they can be reconstructed. Words such as homosexual, heterosexual, male and female are laced with societal prejudices and must be reexamined. for social constructivists the meaning of these words is always in flux.

  8.    jruiz104 said,

    December 13, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Jose Ruiz
    English 170W

    Diction -The choice and use of words in writing or speech
    -The manner of uttering or enunciating words and sounds

    Allusion –is a literary device that stimulates ideas, associations, and extra information in the reader’s mind with only a word or two.
    -Its means reference. It relies on the reader being able to understand the allusion and being familiar with all of the meaning hidden behind the words.

    Symbol -An image that represents something else and that can have multiple interpretations.There are two types
    -Public symbol embodies universal meaning such as rose representing to love and water to symbolizing life.
    -Private symbol obtains its meaning from the way in which it is used in a text.

  9.    Terry said,

    December 13, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Narratees — Narratees act as the ‘listener’ opposite of the narrator. A good example of narratees can be found in the frame narrative of Heart of Darkness. Marlow acts as the narrator and the other crew members aboard the Nellie are the narratees.

    Phenomenology — Phenomenology is the philosophical investigation of our conscious experience: It is not taking into account if this experience is objectively real so it deals heavily in subjectivity.

  10.    emendoza said,

    December 13, 2011 at 11:37 am


    structuralism: an approach to linguistics that analyses and describes the structure of language, as distinguished from its comparative and historical aspects. STructuralism assumes that all surface phenomena belong to some structural system. for example:

    [surface phenomena]
    (words) — dog/runs/happily/

    [Structural system]
    (parts of speech) — Noun Verb Descriptor
    (Rules of combination) — Subject + Predicate

    Any sentence is governed by the following:
    Subject(Noun) + Predicate (verb + descriptor)

    Derrida combined the French words for “to defer” and “to differ” and coined the word differance, which is his name for the only “meaning” language can have. Derrida argues that language has only two important characteristics: (1) its play of signifiers continually defers, or postpones, meaning and (2) the meaning it seems to have is the result of the differences by which we distinguish one signifier from another.

  11.    khaff88 said,

    December 13, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Kelly Haff- New Historicism
    Foucault’s panopticon:
    “The idea is that every person is isolated in a small room, where they all may be observed at all times by a single person in the center tower. The building would be lit around the perimeter, so that each person could be clearly seen by the central observer, but each inmate would see neither the observer nor any other inmate.” (from our packet).

  12.    nadiab said,

    December 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Formalism/New Criticism: (Bressler)
    Organic unity- All parts in a text are interrelated with one another. The parts help to construct the main idea of the text. Each of the parts contributes to enhance the content of the entire text. As such, the parts make up the whole. (Bressler 59)

    An objective theory of art- The text itself is the object. The meaning of the text is not to be interpreted based on the individual’s feelings or beliefs. Instead, the text becomes a public text that can be understood by applying the standards of public discourse and not on the individual’s personal experiences. (Bressler 57)

  13.    awilliams108 said,

    December 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    ARIANNE- Formalism/New Criticism

    Prosody— In the Mechanical pr Structure elements thats comprise poetry, such as rhythm, meter, rhyme, stanza, diction, alliteration, and so on. Used synonymously with versification.

    Central Paradox—A term used by Critics (especially Cleanth Brooks) to help explain the nature and essence of poetry. Its said that the scientific language must be precise and exact. In other words, the meaning of poems is built on paradox, juxtaposition of connations and meanings that all support the poems central idea.

  14.    emina said,

    December 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    transactional experience: A transactional experience is when you as a reader change, your meaning of poem will change as you read. It is an active experience between the reader and text.
    efferent reading: The goal is to read for information, such as looking for the main idea, theme and task.
    aesthetic reading: Submerging your self into the text. To find out that the the tone feels like mentally, and what is being described. To find out the response that takes the entire meaning of the text is used.

  15.    terrylghong said,

    December 13, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    alienation effect (Brecht): A term coined by the Marxist theater critic Bertolt Brecht to describe his technique to interrupt the theater audience’s normal expectations when viewing a drama. For example, in the middle of a drama, Brecht may have one of the actors directly appeal to the audience via song or speech to keep the audience constantly aware of the moral and social issues to which they are being exposed. (Bressler 308)

    hegemony (Gramsci): A term used in Marxist criticism to refer to the system of beliefs ,values, and meaning to which most people in a given society subscribe. Marxist critics assert that the dominant culture in a given society is under the control of the bourgeoisie. It is the bourgeoisie who controls and dictates the hegemony of a culture. According to the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, a given society’s hegemony may be successful but never complete. Rather than one all encompassing ruling class, there usually exist several interconnected yet somewhat divergent classes, each influencing the superstructure at different times and in different ways. Marxist revolutions, then, can begin within alternative hegemonies rather than direct political action. (Bressler 312)

    interpellation: Also known as “hailing the subject”, this term was coined by the Marxist critic Louis Althusser to refer to the process whereby the dominant hegemony, or prevailing ideology, forms the attitudes of people in society . (Bressler 314)

  16.    cass88163 said,

    December 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    A Vindication of the Rights of Women (Wollstonecraft, 1792)

    In 1792,Mary Wollstonecraf published Vindication on the Rights of Woman, an important work which, advocating equality of the sexes, and the main doctrines of the later women’s movement. In it, Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th century who did not believe women should have an education. She argues that women ought to have an education commensurate with their position in society, claiming that women are essential to the nation because they educate its children and because they could be “companions” to their husbands, rather than mere wives. Instead of viewing women as ornaments to society or property to be traded in marriage, Wollstonecraft maintains that they are human beings deserving of the same fundamental rights as men.

    The book contains 13 chapters, below is a link that provides each.


  17.    mary03 said,

    December 13, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Horizon of expectation : Bressler definition on page 78 chapter 4 , it says using the term horizon of expectations to include all of a historical periods crticial vocabulary and assesment of a text. also it is said that the overall value and meaning of any text can never become fixed or universal. a text then , does not have one and only one correct interpretation because its suposed meanings changes from one historical period to another . a final assessment about any literay work thus becomes impossible .
    My interpretation / meaning : The moments of which the narrator is setting you up ( the narratee) that something is going to happen in the story.

  18.    jenn691 said,

    December 15, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Modernity/Post Modernity

    sign- combination of a concept and a sound- image in terms of ‘essential’ or intrinsic nature and arbitrary. It is made up of the signifier and the signified.

    Signifier- the sound-image and the actual word itself. The signifier cues thoughts and images and is more stable. This allows for intrepretation of the word by the signified.

    signified- the concept, the meaning, the thing indicated by the signifier and is some referent to which the signifier refers. It aso does not stabilize with habit and varies between people and contexts.

  19.    brianfinnerty91 said,

    December 17, 2011 at 2:36 am

    hierarchy-post-structuralism is also concerned with the power structures or hegemonies and power and how these elements contribute to and/or maintain structures to enforce hierarchy.

    binary opposition-represents the conceptual oppositions on ehich western metaphysics is based, such as light/dark, good/bad, and big/small.

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