The Formalists' Formalistic Formula

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''Introduction: What is Literature?, Eagleton

Literary Criticism-- EL 312

Reading this selection made me look up the definition of formalism. Now I understand that "formalists see the literary work as an object in its own right". Formalist look at the form, genre, and the whole structure of the work and can get the understanding of it. I think of formalism as a cheet sheet to an exam. It has all the background information to any literary work out there. When we learn about the basic things (like Father Stephen had put emphasis on in Intro to Poetry), we learn all the complicated stuff. Eagleton has stated the "literature, by forcing us into a dramatic awareness of langauge, refreshes these habitual responses and renders objects more 'perceptible'" More perciptable to understand the work and use it to prove all kinds of theories. Formalism is the theory most know to us and non-English majors (We know the difference between poems and novels). This is the first step to a lifetime of literary criticism.

2 Comments

I agree that formalism is the first step to criticism. It is kinda like the close readings that we have been doing in almost every one of the classes that we have taken as English majors. I still don't understand the process behind formalism entirely, but I'm sure that it will come. Like you I looked up the definition and found that I was more confused than before.

I think that we are going to learn a lot about this type of criticism because as you said it is the form that most of us know how to work with in some semblance of a fasion.

Dr. Wansor had us work in formalism for a little while but he thought we were causing the non-English majors to explode, so, we stopped (you remember that, don't you?)

Formalism is one of those things that we have been evalutive about for a long time, but didn't really know what to call it.

I enjoy the reference to as a "cheat sheet," too. It seems fitting and somewhat comforting.