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Formalism Lecture
by Gideon Burton

Forward

Formalism (New Criticism):
Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths:
  • Makes a Science of Literary Criticism
  • Viable Method enables a Professional Discipline
  • Develops "Close-Reading" skills
  • Basis for other language-centered theories
  • Great for analyzing poetry
  • Well-known approach
  • Readily applied informally
  • Easy to teach / learn (also a weakness)
  • Offers "critical closure" (also a weakness)
Weaknesses:
  • Seen as incomplete now
    Ignores:
    • Historical Aspects
    • Moral Aspects
    • Production / Reception
    • Psychological Aspects
    • Gender Aspects
  • Not applied easily to long forms
  • Similarity of Conclusions
  • Criticism always inferior to the object it studies
  • Easy to teach / learn (also a strength)
  • Offers "critical closure" (also a strength)