Prepare MEG 05 Literary Criticism and Theory

Updated: Mar 13

Syllabus, Analysis, Strategy, Notes, Lectures, Previous year questions and everything you need to pass or ace the MEG-5 Literary Criticism and Theory.

A subject with combination of all that you have learned in your first year course and compulsory subject of IGNOU MA English course and most important for UGC NET aspirants as well.

Design with Ease

Its a tough subject and I am trying to provide every thing at one place, Now it's on your how much time you are investing on reading this post and learning this course.

We have divided the strategy in two styles

1. To pass(40-50 score) and finish the Masters course at the earliest. (PASS)

2. To ace a career in the field of literature and need (70+ score ). (MERIT)

Paper Pattern

Q1. SHORT NOTES (to be done for PASS & MERIT )

( -5 Short-notes will be given, you have to attempt any 2 ,

- Maximum from BLOCK 1 & Sometimes from OTHER BLOCKS)







Or sometimes from



Analysis of each block for important topics or questions
  • SHORT NOTES. 30min / 1hr for each

  1. Rasa

  2. Dhvani

  3. Alamkara

  4. Ethos (Character)

  5. Hamartia

  6. Signifier and Signified

  7. Myth (Plot)

  8. Poetic Diction

  9. Gyno text (Gyno Critisim)

  10. Sphota Theory

  11. Superstructure and Base

  12. Ideology

  13. The intentinal fallacy

  14. Irony

  15. Auchitya

  16. Objective

  17. Correlative

  18. Orientalism

  19. Sphota theory BLOCK 1 - " AN INTRODUCTION " Sphota Theory, by Sanskrit theoretician Acc.

  20. To Mathew Arnold is the function of criticism Structuralism -meaning -functions 4. Literary Criticism -meaning -theories -uses -functions 5. Rasa 6. Dhavni 7. Alamkara 8. Ideology 9. Achutiya 10. Linguistic sign BLOCK 2 - “CLASSICAL CRUTICISM" 1. Aristotle and Plato. 4 hrs. - Compare and contrast in your words Plato and Aristotle As Literary theorists - Mimesis in Light of Plato and Aristotle's Postulation - Theory of Imitation - Theory of Mimesis - Diff. B/w Plato and Aristotle Approach to Imitation - for Plato the term Imitation (Mimesis) arrives a negative connotation: to produce a copy a version that is less than the original. Comment 2. Six Elements of tragedy according to Aristotle (with examples) 2 hr + 30-45 min =3 hrs 3. Ethos and Mythos. 30min for each - Aristotle views on mythos (plot) and ethos - Acc. To Aristotle is Plots more important than Characters in Tragedy 4. Catharsis in Tragedy 30min 5. Hamartia. 30 min 6. Reason for Plato's Hostility towards Art. Explain. 1hr 7. Salient features of Plato's attack on poetry. 1hr 8. Why he was hostile towards the poet's (diff. In narrative views) 45min - 1hr 9. Tragic falling and Explain how it leads to Tragedy 45min- 1hr BLOCK 3 - "ROMANTIC CRITISIM" 1. William Wordsworth. 2hrs - Wordsworth's 'Preface to the Lyrical Ballads' , (1800) as an attack on the "inane phraseology" of many 18th century with examples - Outline Wordsworth Theory of Poetic Diction with special reference to 'Lyrical Ballad' - Role of spontaneity, emotion and personality have in Wordsworth's theory of poetry? Elucidate - Poetic Diction 2. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 1hr 30min-2hrs - Diff. b/w fancy and imagination by Coleridge in Biographia literaria - Coleridge theory of Imagination - power of poetic imagination 3. Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) 1hr 30 min - 2 hr - P.B Shelley's "Defense of Poetry" - Shelley assign to poets in the 19th century - Romantic Theory of Art 4. Present in your words the Romantic theory of knowledge 1hr BLOCK 4 - "NEW CRITICISM" 1. Features of New Criticism. 1hr +30min 2. T. S. Eliot mean by "The dissociation of sensibility” 1hr 30min 3. I. A. Richard. 2 hrs. - 3 hrs. - 4 Obstacles to proper response that I. A. Richards Catalogues in Practical Criticism - Richard's Contribution to Literary Criticism

4. Wimsatt. 1 hr - Wimsatt's notion of 'Intentional Fallacy' - 'intentional Fallacy, respond to the concept of New critic of Wimsatt

5. T. S. Eliot. 2 hr 30min - Eliot means by the 'Dissociation of sensibility ' with respect to 17th century Ethos : Elaborate. - Two Seminal Critical concepts formulated by Eliot - Eliot relate tradition to Impersonality. Explain in lightvof his idea of 'historical sense'

6. Ideas expressed by Cleanthes Brooks in his essay 'Irony as a Principle of structure' 1hr 7. John Crowe Ransom. 1hr 30 min - Role of literary Critic in the Modern World acc. to John Crowe Ransom - 'Duties' of a critic acc. to John Crowe Ransom - Ransom mean who he advocates Criticism Inc. : !? 8. Objective Correlative 9. Irony BLOCK 5 - "MARXIST VIEW OF LITERATURE" 1. Relation b/w Literature and Ideology 2. Role of Ideology in literary production following the Marxist critical theory 3. Marx's view of the Base - superstructure relationship. Hw does an artist become conscious of it in his/her creations 4. Marxian concept of Base - superstructure, examples 5. Marxist Literary Theory area the aspect that should identify and locate in literature / (essentials of literary theory or Freudian Psychoanalysis) 6. Essay on Marxism is opposed to both Idealism and Mechanical Materialism 7. Essay on Marxism has influenced many critics in 20th Century, example 8. Role of ideology in literary production following the Marxist critical theory BLOCK 6 - "FEMINIST THEORIES" 1. Mary Wollstonecraft's - Wollstonecraft's contribution to women's right and their Education - Nature of the revolution in women's education proposed by Wollstonecraft - 'From the tyranny of man.... the greater no. Of females Follies proceed'. In the light of this statement evaluate Wollstonecraft thoughts on women. 2. Gyno text

3. Elaine Showalter's contribution to feminist criticism - Elaine Showalter's feminist concerns in literature 4. - Sex and gender - Implications of the distinction b/w Ex and Gender theories 5. - Significance of Simon De Beauvoir's 'The Second Sex' - Beauvoir's thesis indicate (a) its strength (b) its limitations 7. - Major concerns of feminist theory - Feminist theories do not give sufficient attention to class conflict in society. Discuss 8. Virginia Woolf - Virginia Woolf as a feminist critic - 'Room of One's Own ' by Virginia Woolf 9. Ideologies set forth by Wollstonecraft and Virginia Woolf as Pioneer Feminists

BLOCK 7 - "DECONSTRUCTION" 1. Roland Barthes - "Work" and "Text" •Roland Barthes idea on "Work" and "Text" in her essay "From Work to Text" Or •Barthes differentiate a "Work" from a "Text'. Explain in ur own words Or •Acc. To Barthes is difference b/w "work" and "text" (Image - Music - Text) 1977 - Reader Text - Writerly Text - Main ideas in Barthes essay 'The Death of the Author'. 2. Signifier and signified 3. - Structuralism - approaches of Structuralism to theory of sign-system - deconstructive reading of a poem different from a structuralism reading of it. 4. - Deconstruction - Is 'deconstruction ‘an effective tool For analysis a literary text. Reason? - Drama as a form lends itself well to the deconstruction approach. Discuss with reference to the drama text in your course 5. Annalise John Donne's 'the Canonization' with the tools of 'Deconstruction' 6. Examine how 'Waiting for Godot' problematizes the meaningless - shortness of life 7. Why does Derrida resist definitions? Reason?

BLOCK 8 - "CONTEMPORARY LITERARY THEORY" 1. Postmodernism - Define Post modernism? Discuss with reference to Lyotard. - Post modernism differ from modernism - Attempt a critique of Midnight's children as a Postmodernist text 2. Post-Colonial - Main concerns of Post-Colonial - Historical importance of Post-Colonial for the third world - the seminal issues that Post-Colonial theory addresses - Two major Post-Colonial critics and their contribution to our understanding of literature 3. Lacan - Lacan's main contribution to critical theory - Lacan has said that unconscious is structured like a language. Discuss

- 'Lack' and 'Desire' closely connected in Lacan's theory 4.Theory of Psychological Criticism 5. Critically interpret Edward Said's concept of Orientalism 6. Foucault's view on discourse and power? Explain 7. Emergence of Cultural studies with reference to the theories of Edward Said, Spivak and Bhabha 8. Spivak mean by 'Subalternity' (with examples) 9. Raymond William's contribution to Cultural studies.

Previous Year Questions ( Most Important )


Short Notes (200 words)

1. Signifier and signified (J15, J17, D18)

2. Objective Correlative (J15, D17)

3.Rasa (J16, J17, J18)

4.Dhvani (J16, D16, D18)

5. Sphota (J16, D17)

6. Alamkara (J17, D17)

7. Sruti (D16, D17)


1. Explain Aristotle's theory of Mimesis. (June 2020)

2. Explain how Plato views art twice removed from reality. (Dec 2019)

3. Explain how Aristotle argues favour of "drama as a larger and heigher form of art" (June 2019)

4. Discuss 'mimesis' in the light of plato and Aristotle's postulations. (Dec 2018)

5. Enumerate six elements of tragedy according to Aristotle and explain any two of them with suitable example. (June 2018)

6. Why does Plato declares the role of the poet as subversive. (Dec 2017)

7. Discuss Aristotle's view of plot in tragedy. (June 2017)

8. Write a critical note on Aristotle's concept of tragedy. (Dec 2016)

9. What is the reason for Plato's hostility towards art? Explain. (June 2016)

10.Explain briefly any three elements of tragedy according to Aristotle (dec 2015).

11. Discuss Aristotle's theory of tragedy and it's different elements.


1. What is meant by 'superstructure' in Marxist Theory? How would you interpret it? (J20)

2. What is superstructure in Marxist criticism? Provide examples of superstructure. How do they function? (D19)

3. Explain in your own words Marx's views of the base - superstructure relationship. How does an artist become conscious of it in his/her creations? (J18)

4. Write a critical note on essentials of Marxist literary theory OR Freudian psychoanalysis. (D17)

5. With the help of suitable examples, the Marxian concept of base and superstructure. (J17)

6. Explain Marx's idea of dialectical materialism. How does it help us in understanding literature? (D16)

7. Write a short essay explaining how Marxism is opposed to both idealism and Mechanical Materialism. (J16)

8. Write a short essay showing how Marxism had influenced many critics in 20th century. Illustrated your answer with suitable examples. (D15)


1. Critically examine S. T. Coleridge's views on the esemplastic power of poetic imagination. (D19)

2. Critically examine Wordsworth's view that "all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings". (J19)

3. Romantics assert that " imagination transcends reason". Discuss. (D18)

4. Briefly outline Wordsworth's theory of poetic diction with special reference to Preface to Lyrical Ballads. (J18)

5. What does Wordsworth think of the distinction between the language of prose and metrical composition? (D17)

6. What does Shelly assign to poets in 19th century? Explain (J17)

7. Evaluate Wordsworth's 'Preface' to the Lyrical Ballads (1800) as an attack on the "inane phraseology" Of many 18th century writers. (D16)

8. What role do spontaneity, emotion and personality have in Wordsworth's theory of poetry? Elucidate (J16)

9. Elaborate the basic distinction between Fancy and Imagination as brought out by Coleridge in Biographia Literaria. (D15)


1. Critically interpret Edward Said's concept of Orientalism. (D15)

2. Lacan has said that unconcious is structures like a language. Discuss (J16)

3. How are lack and desire closely connected to Lacan's theory? (D16)

4. Briefly introduce two major post-colonial critics and their contribution to our understanding of literature. (J17)

5. What are major concerns of postcolonial theorists? (J18)

6. What does Spivakmean by Subalternity? Explain with examples. (D19)

7.Attempt a critique of post-colonial theory with special reference to Said, Spivak and Bhabha (J20)


1. Comment on the implications of The Death of Author by Roland Barthes. (D16)

2.What is meant by death of the author in critical theory? (J20)

3. How does Roland Barthes differentiate a Work from a Text? Explain in your own words. (J19)

4.State Ronald Barthes ideas on work and text in his essay From Work to Text. (J18)

5. What according to Barthes are is the difference between work and text? Explain (J17)


1. Feminist theories give sufficient attention to class conflict in society. Discuss(D15)

2. Assess Mary Wollstonecraft's contribution to women's right and their education. (D16)

3. Why does Derrida resist definitions? Give reason to your answer. (D17)

4. Discuss the major concerns of feminist theory. (D18)

5. 'From the tyranny of man... the greater number of female fillies proceed'. In the light of this of statement evaluate Mary Wollstonecraft's thought on women. (J19)

6. Evaluate Elain Showalter's contribution to feminist criticism. (D19)


1.Give an account of Sphota theory as explained by Sanskrit theoreticians. (J19)

2. Attempt a critique of Rasa as understood in ancient Indian literature. (D19)

The syllabus contains 8 blocks and if you click on topics below, you can download complete IGNOU eBook of that block.

Block-1 An Introduction

Block-2 Classical Criticism

Block-3 Romantic Criticism

Block-4 New Criticism

Block-5 Marxist View of Literature

Block-6 Feminist Theories

Block-7 Deconstruction

Block-8 Contemporary Literary theory

Block wise break-up for the units present


An Introduction

Unit-1 Literature, Criticism and Theory

Unit-2 Overview of Western Critical Thought

Unit-3 Twentieth Century Developments

Unit-4 The Function of Criticism

Unit-5 Indian Aesthetics

Unit-6 Resistance to Theory/How to Read a Reader


Classical Criticism

Unit-1 Features of Classical Criticism

Unit-2 Plato on Imitation and Art

Unit-3 Aristotle’s Theory of Imitation

Unit-4 Aristotle’s Theory of Tragedy-I

Unit-5 Aristotle’s Theory of Tragedy-II

Unit-6 Criticism as Dialogue


Romantic Criticism

Unit-1 Romanticism

Unit-2 Words Worth: Preface to the Lyrical Ballads

Unit-3 Coleridge: Biographia Literaria

Unit-4 P.B.Shelley: A Defiance of Poetry Block-4

New Criticism

Unit-1 I.A.Richards

Unit-2 T.S.Eliot

Unit-3 F.R.Leavis

Unit-4 John Crowe Ransom and Cleanth Brooks

Unit-5 W.K.Wimsatt

Unit-6 Conclusion


Marxist View of Literature

Unit-1 Marxism and Literature

Unit-2 Society and History: Marxist View

Unit-3 Representing and Critiquing SOCIETY: Superstructures

Unit-4 Commitment in Literature

Unit-5 Autonomy in Literature

Unit-6 Literature and Ideology


Feminist Theories

Unit-1 Features of Feminist Criticism

Unit-2 Mary Wollstonecraft: A Vindication of the Rights of woman

Unit-3 Virginia Woolf: A Room of One’s Own

Unit-4 Simone de Beauvoir: The Second Sex

Unit-5 Elaine Showalter: ‘Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness’

Unit-6 Feminist Concerns in India Today



Unit-1 Roots: New Criticism and Structuralism

Unit-2 Beginning Deconstruction

Unit-3 Implications

Unit-4 Deconstructing Poetry

Unit-5 Deconstructing Drama

Unit-6 Re-Assessing Deconstruction Block-8

Contemporary Literary theory

Unit-1 Some Basic Issues

Unit-2 Postmodernism : The Basics

Unit-3 Psychoanalysis: Freud and Lacan

Unit-4 Postcolonial Theory: Said, Spivak and Bhabha

Unit-5 Beginnings of Cultural Studies and New Historicism

Unit-6 Literary Criticism and Theory: A Summing Up

( Lectures, Notes pdf, Handwritten notes, Previous year questions files are uploaded in library of MEG Mentors Channel. Kindly check Manual on YouTube channel of MEG Mentors for the lectures and method to download premium content as well )

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