Name four types of sociological approaches to literature and explain how they are useful. (+examples) This is for my oral test in February. I've already chosen feminist criticism and marxist criticism since they're fairly easy, but I still need two more approaches and give examples of books which can I interpret with those approaches.

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Postcolonial literature would be a topical choice since many countries are still feeling the effects of postcolonial problems. Postcolonial literature aims at presenting the perspective of countries which had once been colonized since the majority of perspective (in the West) has been formulated by the colonizers. The aim is to uncover racist and typically Eurocentric views of these countries. Good authorial sources of postcolonial theory: Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Homi Bhabha and Edward Said. Good novels to choose from: Things Fall Apart, Wide Sargasso Sea, Passage to India, and Franz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth which is about the de-colonization of Algeria from French rule.

You could also choose to work through the theorist Michel Foucault, who is known for work in theories of Post-structuralism and New Historicism. Stephen Greenblatt is also one of the most cited New Historical Critics. If you choose to go with New Historicism, remember that the aim is to look at how a text is formed by sociological elements of the historical moment when it was written (and the New Historical Critic’s job is to find these elements even if they were not intended by the author.) Additionally, the New Historical critic must be aware of his/her own ideological and historical biases in doing these analyses. So, it is a constant awareness of each historical moment of social ideologies and how history and literature are always engaged in a reciprocal relationship of ‘writing’ each other. Consequently, literature (as opposed to theory or criticism) or historical texts which are written in the spirit of New Historicism would try to uncover those biases. Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States is a great example of this.

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