Literary theory is a set of principles or tools that allow a reader to engage with and interpret/understand a piece of literature. By using a universal approach, readers can experience and critique a peace using similar language and references. This allows many voices to communicate and add to the discussion. It is a way to break down and understand the rhetorical qualities and delve into the actual achievement, intended and otherwise, of a peace of literature.
Theory gives us a framework in which we can observe, interact, and question artifacts and / or objects. Using this framework, we can make observations about the idea of the artifact or object outside of its previously understood purpose. Theory allows us to question those things that are in the world around us, abd decide how we (the center of the universe) want to engage with them, or not, and how we can determine meaning and/or pleasure.
So far from our class discussion my best guess as to what theory entails would be that it is an approach to how one would understand something. Both ones overall understanding and the approach to that understanding can change given what information is given at the time. For instance, knowing the name and location of the statue we looked at during this class would have significantly changed our approach to understanding what all it entailed.
I am "a Wikia Contributor." I was not logged in. :-)
No problem. Thanks Julie.
Thinking of theory as a "conversation" is fantastic. It suggests what is dynamic about theory, and it also suggests what's challenging about theory - joining in conversations in a productive way can be difficult to do, especially when they're conversations that have been going on for a long time.
I find the language of "breaking" that we use to describe how we treat texts to be so interesting. In certain obvious ways it suggests that the act of interpretation is an act violence. Along these lines we also talk about "interrogating" texts, which suggests that they are capable of actively responding to what we do with and to them.
Some would suggest that theory does not increase one's appreciation of literature. That is, the work of theory is about finding/uncovering/revealing/making meaning, not about enjoying a work.
I like this phrase: "the process of theory." That is, theory is not a destination at which one arrive, it is an ongoing process.