This in an excerpt from this book
In the time span of last 30 or 40 years literary theory has been playing a central role in academic studies that are related to social science and humanities. Various competing or non-competing perspectives, principals and approaches granted most of the scholar awareness about importance of methodological concerns in literary theory. Criticism no longer confines itself to the study of literature, it discourses are now stretched beyond literature. It also covers anthropology, philosophy, psychology, linguistics, political science and much else. However, for literary researchers it covers all forms of cultural productions, despite them being literary or non-literary.
In a traditional manner criticism still covers exegesis, evaluation and interpretation but it is now stretching its range over theory. Whether you consider theory as a discussion or debates on the basis of certain definition, as the search for necessary and sufficient values for critical practice, or consider theory as a process for making social, historical or ideological pre-suppositions. No matter which option you chose, it will be hard to figure out a clear boundary between theory and criticism. However, they stumble into each other on various situations.
Literary theory is a set of ideas and methods that help a reader or researcher to understand the literature better. These ideas provide guidance for researchers during the practical process of interpretation. Most people think that literary theory is all about the meaning of the literature. But it isn’t a full-truth. Literary theory does not just refer to the interpretation of the text; it is all about ‘What should be the meaning of the text?’ Methods and ideas that are described in literary theory act as principals for critics. They use them as criteria about art, literature and even culture. These various criteria allow critics to consider works of art on the basis of certain assumptions within the school of theory. They also help critics to maintain their focus on particular objects of a work that is considered important by them. For instance,
Consider a critic that is working on certain Marxist theories, he will try to focus on the interaction made by various characters in the story on the basis of their economical condition. And consider another critic that is working with post colonial theories. It is certain that he will use same assumptions as the first critic. But it is well know how colonial powers treat characters from India, Africa, Caribbean and other conquered regions; it leaves a great impact on the preset assumptions as they are proven wrong. However, after reading and working through multiple resources literary theory becomes easy to understand and use too.
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