Formalistic Approach

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The term "formalism" when applied to literary criticism refers to several different types of 20th century literary criticism. The first group of critics referred to as "formalists" were the New Critics, a movement that had two sources. The first form or New Criticism was practiced by poets such as Tate, Ransom, Eliot and Pound. These were distinguished poets who in their study of literary works were interested in the technical qualities of literary works, reading with a practitioner's eye to detail. Their successors, such as Wimsatt, often teaching returning WW II veterans who were less well-prepared than a previous generation of students, focused on "close reading" as a pedagogical technique. Another group, including Richards and the Chicago School were neo-Aristotelians, concerned with the relationship of poetics to rhetoric. Finally, the structuralists were interested in applying the techniques of linguistics to literary study. Historicist critics tend to lump all of these groups together as "formalists", and even apply the term formalist to deconstructionists (Derrida and his epigones) because despite their differences they all share in a decontextualized approach to criticism.

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filips | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) eNoter

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The formalistic approach is a way of looking at a literary work regardless of generally established terms such as: the name of the author, the author's background, or any biographical detail. This approach expanded after 1930 especially with English and American critics, who therefore are called formalists.

This critical approach interprets the inherent features such as :syntax, grammar and literary devices (tropes). It focuses on : language,form, structure,organization and multiple meanings.

Thus the reader is invited to look closely at the literary work (especially short prose and poetry) for what it is, for the connotative and denotative value of the words, not at the outside aspects related to who and why wrote it.

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