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Literary Criticism : Home

Literary Criticism

Literary criticism helps to explain, interpret, evaluate and analyze a work of art. Most criticism is in the form of an essay but in-depth book reviews can be considered criticism.

  • "Criticism" doesn't necessarily mean to criticize or find what is wrong with a work. It is the study, interpretation and history of literature.

    • Characteristics of criticism that we can relate to the 7 central concepts:

      • Characterization 

      • Voice, Style, Theme, Setting

      • Technical qualities of the writing (artistry, style, use of language)

      • Complex ideas and problems

      • Relationship of work to the time, or social, historical, or political trends

  • What it is not criticism -   AVOID

    • Plot summaries, Spark Notes,

    • Simple descriptions found on Amazon reviews or personal opinions (such as Goodreads)

    • Biographies

Characteristics of a book review: Plot summary, descriptive comments, evaluative comments

Readers are in for a delightful romp with this award-winning debut from a British author who dances in the footsteps of P.L. Travers and Roald Dahl. As the story opens, mysterious goings on ruffle the self-satisfied suburban world of the Dursleys, culminating in a trio of strangers depositing the Dursley’s infant nephew Harry in a basket on their doorstep.

Characteristics of literary criticism: Analysis or interpretation of work, discussion of complex ideas.

J. K. Rowling's imaginary world abounds in glittering mystery, nail-biting suspense, and colorful images. At the same time, the series is hardly groundbreaking: its basic premise comes right out of "Cinderella," key scenes allude to an array of children's literature and its clever language echoes Roald Dahl's. Most importantly, Harry Potter resonate with gender stereotypes of the worst sort; as Christine Schoefer argues in her review of the series, "From the beginning it is boys and men, who catch our attention by dominating the scenes and determining the action."

Questions to ask yourself about the text