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Literary Criticism What’s your favorite book… and WHY? How do you decide if a book is worth reading? For scholars, answering this question is the next level (after literary analysis): literary criticism. Fundamentally, this refers to the estimation of the value of a particular work or body of work based on… In other words, once you recognize the masterful way in which the author uses language, you are ready to evaluate the value of the text as a whole. Readers do this by using interpretive strategies. There are many different kinds. For example: am an advocate of New Criticism, which believes that a work of literature should be considered an object independent of the author’s intention or life experience. I Mortimer Adler Many people apply my theories to literature. They look for evidence of sexual symbols, restricted emotional development, and dreams, among other things. They call this Psychoanalytic Criticism. Sigmund Freud Another approach is Reader Response, which places primary value on the reader’s accumulated experience. Many people are interested in different kinds of contextual interpretations: Feminist, African-American, Asian- American, Hispanic, Native American, LGBTQ… …and there are advocates of political-economic criticism. As a reaction to New Criticism, an approach known as New Historicism advocated that a greater understanding of literature occurs when the reader places it in its cultural, political, sociological, and ideological context. This approach requires a lot of research. So, how do you decide if a book is worth reading? Like most readers, you can and will mix these strategies to produce a personal interpretation for yourself!