Why Literary Theory is for Everyone


Why Literary Theory is for Everyone

I recently completed a Literary Theories course that was both insightful and fulfilling in many ways. The three most important impacts for a budding writer and the average reader are educational, cultural and inspirational.

This course has laid a foundation for both other literature and english courses that will be taken. Prior to this class some people may only have been exposed to the New Critical approach for understanding literature. This may have been the only approach that some novice writers have used to understand their own writings. The exposure to other theories such as African American, Lesbian Gay and Queer, and New Historicist theories have created a larger framework to understand various aspects of literature (Tyler 3). The course has taught that there are many ways to approach a text for a deeper understanding. The placement of this class early in one’s education would benefit most students.

The theories learned in this class will give most students a less biased and more inclusive view of the world. This is already realized among the comments posted on the discussion boards. Many students agreed that by reading other critiques their eyes were opened to literature on another level. Two examples from fellow students were the African American critique of Gatsby of mixed ethnicity, and the critiques of Nick Carraway as a young gay man in the 1920’s. This ability to grasp the multiethnic and multi-goggled views presented in any written work may also create a change in how a person perceives the culture in which they live.

These theories present an organized way for a writer to conduct research for a novel.  A writer can apply these theories for determining the direction of a plot or the motivations of characters. This is an invaluable tool for also understanding one’s readers as well. This course establishes a foundation for both readers and writers. Every theory in this course and emerging theories are a means for understanding literature and the world as a whole. A reader / writer will probably have a favorite theory or two to approach literature as a whole. However, there is none that is completely inapplicable to some reader / writer. It is worth noting that literary theories are on some level intuitive as a whole.

Readers and writers who know that they can put on different goggles based on different theories gives them power in literature. These theories can create opportunities for more enjoyable and educated reading of literature.

Works Cited

Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today A User-Friendly Guide. New York: Routledge Taylor and

Francis Group, 2006. 11-52. Print.

Alexandra is a student in the Creative Writing (Fiction) program at Southern New Hampshire University. She is a regular contributor on Wattpad and her own personal blog http://apogee711.blogspot.com/



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