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Critical Theory Essay

1385 words - 6 pages

Victor Shklovsky was a Russian Formalist writer who set up the ‘Society for the Study of Poetic Language in Russia’ (OPOYAZ) in 1916. He focused on the techniques of Russian Formalism and the development of Critical Theories. He was also a member of the Moscow Linguistic Circle which sought to develop formalist linguistics and literary techniques. His most notable theory is that of ‘Ostranenie’ or de-familiarization whereby the author was apart from the work and wrote exactly what was seen rather than being preoccupied with how it would be received. Wolfgang Iser on the other hand, was a strong hermeneutical theorist and lecturer who created the Reader Response Theory. Hermeneutical thinkers ...view middle of the document...

He held a strong belief that there was no such thing as passive reading and that all readers fill in pieces of the puzzle left by authors and this is what makes pieces of literature written in this way the most appealing types of books today.
That being said, I do appreciate the significance and importance of Shklovsky’s ideas. Throughout his essay ‘Art as a Technique’ he shows us how important Poetry is in English Literature. It is as he puts it, an art form. “Poetry is a special way of thinking; it is, precisely, a way of thinking in images.” (Shklovsky, ‘Art as a Technique’). At the close of the 19th century poetry was held up on a pedestal above all other works of Literature. It was regarded as the ultimate genre and that it was simply; prose working at its toughest because poetry is so difficult to decipher. Shklovsky stressed that imagery in poetry was used as a tool for impression. It was and is still used to gauge a reaction but the words behind it are what make it powerful. Shklovsky stated that writers used certain tools to create and control readers’ responses; this is a very important tool to use in literature as it moulds our thoughts and or subjectivity can be controlled by the author who wants to direct us towards a certain belief or emotion.
In his most notable essay ‘Indeterminacy and the Reader’s Response’, Iser set out the thought that in order for a piece of writing to be successful the author must acknowledge and consider his or her audience. He went on to explain that “Perception without aids is as impossible as cognition without aids.”(Iser, ‘Indeterminacy and the Reader’s Response’). Iser intended us to understand that readers do need to be lead somewhat so in a certain way to see what the author wants us to see but he maintained that readers can and do enjoy being a part of figuring out the meanings behind words and what images are to be summoned.
The main advantage of writing in the style following Iser would be that your work would be more accessible and understandable to the reader. Communication of ideas would flow easier as the reader is made the priority over the author and the text. However, Iser’s focus was generally geared towards one private reader and therefore literature focused solely on Reader Response Theory would suffer as it would not be received well by a wide audience. Iser’s main tool: that of interdeterminacy, gives readers the chance to be free with a text and have their own interpretations of a text. It works along the show don’t tell policy which I find to be easy to get interested in. By allowing readers to draw their own conclusions of images and statements, this means that writers can be more identifiable and accessible with a wider variety of backgrounds because their words are there to guide the readers’ imaginations.
Due to Shklovsky’s Formalistic roots, his theory of defamiliarization (‘ostranenie’) sought to focus authors on the fact that literature was a reflection of the...

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