Sociological Criticism is literary criticism directed to understanding (or placing) literature in its larger social context; it codifies the literary strategies that are employed to represent social constructs through a sociological methodology. Sociological criticism analyzes both how the social functions in literature and how literature works in society. This form of literary criticism was introduced by Kenneth Burke, a 20th century literary and critical theorist, whose article "Literature As Equipment for Living" outlines the specification and significance of such a critique.
Sociological Criticism is influenced by New Criticism, however it adds a sociological element as found with critical theory (Frankfurt School), and considers art as a manifestation of society, one that contains metaphors and references directly applicable to the existing society at the time of its creation. According to Kenneth Burke, works of art, including literature, "are strategic namings of situations" (Adams, 942) that allow the reader to better understand, and "gain a sort of control" (Adams, 942) over societal happenings through the work of art.
This complicates the basic trend of New Criticism which simply calls for a close textual reading without considering affective response or the author's intentions. While Burke also avoids affective response and authorial intention, he specifically considers pieces of art and literature as systematic reflections of society and societal behavior. He understands the way in which these artworks achieve this to be strategically employed through the work, and he therefore suggests the standardization of the methods used by the artists and authors so as to be able to consider works of art within a social context.
Other articles related to "sociological criticism, criticism":
... There are many sub classifications of sociological criticism, two of the most prominent being Marxist criticism and feminist criticism ...
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