Literary Criticism


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The subjects of race and politics have been greatly featured in critical debates since the early 60s and scholars have been able to extensively examine different depictions of discrimination in terms race, gender and religion in literary materials from both the early and present periods. The literary criticisms also examine the attitudes that the writers held about themselves and/or their race.

In some works the prominence or racism is noted and in some cases it is found to be the main theme, whilst doing these critics have identified a racist attitude which appear in the backgrounds of the literary works but they are not immediately identifiable to the readers of the works.

One such work highlighting literary criticism to a wide extent, with racial, political and feminist views is Bertens work (Literary theory: The basics). In this work, African-American writing is greatly highlighted and critically reviewed within the selected portion of the book. The criticism on African-American literary work began in the 60s after black studies entry into the University.

The entry of black studies led to the collection of their literary work which later got official recognition as an important contribution to the literary evolution in American literary history. The black criticism greatly highlights how the history of the blacks and the black authors was shaped by their historical background and social life within a society where they may have experienced social injustices such as discrimination (Bertens,  2004).

The criticism does not leave out the feminist view of black criticism and it tries to differentiate the black female authors of literary work who differentiated themselves from their male counterparts. The critic looks at the thematic content and development black literary authorship as well as the forces that shaped the authorship. The criticism on black-American writing identifies the lack of a common form in black writing, but notably identifies the common aspect of the racial discrimination as the over-riding theme within much of the literature.

 A racial tone build on the historical background during the colonial and post-colonial era is immediately evident on most literary work done by Black-Americans. Amiri Baraka is notably, one among the black writers that sought to bring in a political aspect in the art of black writing in an effort to the black aesthetic (Bertens,  2004).  

This search of Blackness in African-American writing went on for some time, but not much was attained in the 70s, because it was difficult to identify explicitly the distinctiveness of Black-American writing. However, later the recurrent trope in the writing where reviews and revisions of other similar black authors work is done can be also identified as being common in black writing. 

Despite the fact that the African-American writing may have similarities on various aspects it is difficult to clearly identify an innate blackness in the literary work and its form or language of the authors. However, its commonness in terms of development is evident in the fact that it developed in common historical circumstances that greatly shaped it (Bertens,  2004).

The work further identifies the distinctness of Black-American female writing and the feminist critic. Notably, literary work done by Black-American females is identified as one that is different in comparison to their male counterparts. Marxist criticism is also slightly reviewed under this section and it notably brings out a thematic concept of social struggle among classes and power conflicts in the literary works highlighted under the critic (Bertens,  2004).



Bertens, W. J. (2004),. Literary Theory: The basics, 2nd edition, Routledge Publishers


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