English 1B - Composition and Literature

Intro to Sociocultural Criticism

Sociological, Cultural, or Sociocultural theory is analysis based on the idea that art is a way of making a political statement, and that examination of a text will reveal some of the social, economic and political structures of a particular culture. 


Cultural Criticism - Michael DelaHoyde, Washington State University

Major theories

Please note that the summaries here are brief and superficial, and not meant to be a comprehensive introduction to the theorists and their ideas.  For more compolete analysis, it will be necessary to consult a host of soruces.  I've provided a few links here to begin inquiry.

Marxist Theory argues that language can be a tool by which members of one class can hold power over others.  A Marxist critic examines texts for themes of social justice, class structure, and the unequal distribution of resources and social status, among others.

Resources for further study of Marxist theory:

General Introduction to Marxism - Purdue University

Marxism and Critical Theory - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Marxist Criticsm - Tim Spurgin, Lawrence University

Marxism - Michael DelaHoyde, Washington State University 

Gender/Sex Theory concerns itself with the representation in literature of "masculine" and "feminine", and with the social and cultural implications of these representations. A feminist critic examines a text for themes about gender and sex, including gender and sex roles, ideals of masculinity and femininity,  and rebellion against or acceptance of these ideals and roles.
Queer Theory examines the representation of sexual orientation in a text, and with the social and cultural implications of these representations.  A queer theorist will examine a text for themes of heterosexual privelege, sexual identity and affiliation, homoerotic imagery (either latent or articulated) and power imbalances based on sexual orientation.

Resources for further study of sex, gender and queer theory

General Introduction to Theories of Gender and Sex- Allen and Felluga, Purdue University
Gender Studies and Queer Theory - Vince Brewton, U. of No. Alabama
Feminism - Michael DelaHoyde, Washington State University

Race Theory examines representations of race and/or ethnicity in a text, and with the social and cultural implications of these representations.  A race theorist will examine texts for racial stereotypes, themes of ineqalities based on race or ethnicity, and racial identity and affiliation.

Colonial Theory concerns itself with power imbalances caused by one culture subverting or dominating another.  Such a theorist examines a text to reveal themes of culture clash, political power and cultural stereotypes, among others.

Resources for further study of race and postcolonial theory

Some Issues in Postcolonial Theory, John Lye, Brock University
Critical Race Theory Resource Guide, Jennifer Rumain, Drexel University

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