Contemporary Literary Theory
New Criticism & Formalism: Started in 1920s-1930s in reaction to extrinsic criticism. Insists on reading poem intrinsically as poem consists less of a series of referential and verifiable statements about the 'real' world beyond it, than of the presentation and sophisticated organization of a set of complex experiences in a verbal form. Views literary language as self-focused: its function is not to make extrinsic references, but to draw attention to its own ‘form’.
Major figures: I. A. Richards, T. S. Eliot, Cleanth Brooks, William Empson, John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, F. R. Leavis, Robert Penn Warren, W. K. Wimsatt, R. P. Blackmur, Rene Wellek, Ausin Warren, and Ivor Winters, Roman Jakobson (YAH-keb-sen), Victor Schklovsky, Mikhail Bakhtin (bahk-TEEN)
Key terms: intentional fallacy, affective fallacy, close reading, defamiliarization, dialogism
Close reading: Seemingly random, it is actually structured (4 stanzas, 4 words each, 3-word line followed by 1-word line, 1-word line has 2 syllable words, most 3 word lines have 1 syllable words)
This shows richness in poetic language and thus the importance of wheelbarrow as it promotes such a poem.
Major figures: Karl Marx, Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson, Raymond Williams, Louis Althusser (ALT-whos-sair), Walter Benjamin (ben-yeh-MEEN), Antonio Gramsci (GRAWM-shee), Georg Lukacs (lou-KOTCH), and Friedrich Engels, Theordor Adorno, Edward Ahern, Gilles Deleuze (DAY-looz) and Felix Guattari (GUAT-eh-ree).
Key terms: commodification, dialectical materialism, superstructure, ideology, hegemony, proletariat, interpellation
This focus on the mundane material is seen as in indication of the primacy of material over ideal.
Its location on the farm also indicates the importance of production of food as a basic necessity.
Thus, that a lot depends on a wheelbarrow means a lot depends on the production of food (the base) which cannot be produced without the farmer. (the proletariat) Thus base (food) informs superstructure (poetry)
Major figures: Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Shoshona Felman, Jane Gallop, Norman Holland, George Klein, Elizabeth Wright, Frederick Hoffman, and, Simon Lesser.
Key terms: unconscious, id, ego, superego, imaginary, symbolic, real
Dream works: red and white as dream world and real world. Red, like dreams, is glazed as not clear.
Red as color of repressed id or desire. White as the superego’s purity
Major figures: Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan Kate Millet, Teresa de Lauretis, Annette Kolodny, Judith Fetterly, Elaine Showalter, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar.
Key terms: androgyny, essentialism, écriture feminine, jouissance, phallologocentrism, semiotic, patriarchy
Wheelbarrow as masculine versus the feminine chickens can be seen as indicative of male supremacy, of the power of the wheelbarrow (masculine) over the chickens (feminine)
Major figures: Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault (fou-KOH), Roland Barthes (bart), Jean Baudrillard (zhon boh-dree-YAHR), Helene Cixous (seek-sou), Paul de Man (de-MAHN), Jacques Lacan (lawk-KAWN), and Barbara Johnson.
Key terms: signifier, signified, logocentrism, difference, transcendental signified
If wheelbarrow is now useless then where is its importance? Wheelbarrow’s importance is then ironic.
Mocks poetic convention but with serious implications. If readers can be fooled into reading such simplicity as a poem simply because it’s written by a great writer, then entire tradition of poetry is questioned.
This being about a mundane object calls into questions those poems about bigger and more philosophical issues.