Analyse this! Baa, baa,black sheep, Have you any wool? Yes Sir, Yes Sir Three bags full. One for the master, One for the dame, And one for the little boy Who lives down the lane.
Method of literary analysis, primarily for poems
“ Text and Text Alone” Approach
Text contains all necessary information for interpreting meaning
Text's meaning must be analysed independent of author’s beliefs, attitudes, values, emotions ; reader’s emotional response is unimportant
Poem = Object
Evaluation follows scientific inquiry
Structured/Formulaic method of analysis
Heresy of Paraphrase
Applying New Criticism A poem should be palpable and mute As a globed fruit, Dumb As old medallions to the thumb, Silent as the sleeve-worn stone Of casement ledges where the moss has grown— A poem should be wordless As the flight of birds. A poem should be motionless in time As the moon climbs, Leaving, as the moon releases Twig by twig the night-entangled trees, Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves, Memory by memory the mind— A poem should be motionless in time As the moon climbs. A poem should be equal to: Not true. For all the history of grief An empty doorway and a maple leaf. For love The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea— A poem should not mean But be. Ars Poetica Archibald MacLeish
Applying New Criticism The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna Are not very pure or true. With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack I may be a bit of a Jew. I have always been sacred of you, With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo. And your neat mustache And your Aryan eye, bright blue. Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You---- Not God but a swastika So black no sky could squeak through. Every woman adores a Fascist, The boot in the face, the brute Brute heart of a brute like you. Excerpt from Daddy Sylvia Plath
Focuses solely on the text itself and isolates it from all extrinsic factors such as the historical and social context, as well as the poet's background and biography.
Ill-adapted method to certain types of writing
Believes in only one "correct" reading, it also ignores the ambiguity of language and the active nature of the perception of meaning
Very rigid and structured
Perceived as elitist, because it excludes those readers who lack the background for arriving at the "correct" interpretation.