Literary Theory Essays

Literary Theory Essays-30
After Lessing, however, a new-found distance between the present and the past caused interpreters to focus more concertedly on the text itself, because the author was no longer deemed accessible to the interpreter.The shift in the locus of meaning continued under the influence of cultural pressures and meaning came to be seen as inhering in the reader.Before proceeding it may be helpful to examine what is meant by the terms modernism and post-modernism.

After Lessing, however, a new-found distance between the present and the past caused interpreters to focus more concertedly on the text itself, because the author was no longer deemed accessible to the interpreter.The shift in the locus of meaning continued under the influence of cultural pressures and meaning came to be seen as inhering in the reader.Before proceeding it may be helpful to examine what is meant by the terms modernism and post-modernism.

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Increasingly, religious truth claims, individual morality, and meaning (whether it be that of a text or of life in general) are relegated to the latter, undergoing the same kind of privatization as capitalism has brought to property rights.

Third, modernism shows a strong inclination toward individualism with its emphasis on freedom and the "existing" individual.

One of the difficulties encountered in elaborating on these terms is that there is no clear disjuncture between these two time periods or paradigms in thinking.

Although many try, it is difficult to say exactly when modernism began and ended and when post-modernism has taken over.

Specifically, I will focus on one post-structuralist critical theory, reader-response criticism as exemplified in the work of Stanley Fish.

In the second chapter I will attempt to sketch the rise of modernism from the perspective of the history of ideas with special attention given to the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein as it relates to Fish.To understand the challenge raised by these theories we must first survey the changes that have occurred in literary criticism in the recent past.Literary theory has undergone drastic changes in the past century and this paper is an attempt to understand some of the influences that have altered the critical landscape.The change that has taken place in literary theory is not novel to this discipline alone, nor is it to be explained by any one phenomenon.The influences of modernism and post-modernism are accurately reflected in the changes that have taken place in literary theory.In the third chapter I will attempt the same goal from a sociological perspective, based primarily on the thought of Peter Berger.My purpose is to examine and attempt to explain reader-response criticism in light of post-modern thought.The question may naturally arise, "What has literary criticism to do with biblical studies?" Indeed the question is not a new one as Tertullian queried many years ago, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?In as much as literary theory is a reflection of modern thought, not to mention its implications for biblical criticism, it is worth endeavoring to understand it.Another way to answer the original question is from a purely pragmatic viewpoint, as Kevin Vanhoozer has said, "For better or for worse, every form of literary criticism eventually finds at least one biblical exegete who is willing to be its champion." These words have shown true time and again. Post-structuralist theories such as reader-response theory and Deconstructionism have been gaining in popularity in biblical circles and it is these same post-modern theories that represent the greatest challenge to a grammatical-historical understanding of the text.

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