Literary Approach - Phenomenological Criticism

The Norton Introduction to Poetry
Editor: J. Paul Hunter, University of Chicago
(Norton & Company, 1999)

The Norton Introduction to Poetry: Phenomenological Criticism

University of Chicago professor emeritus J. Paul Hunter defines critical approaches to evaluating poetry and prose in this excellent text published by Norton & Company. The book is now in its ninth edition with contributing editors Alison Booth, University of Virginia, and Kelly J. Mays, University of Nevada.

“Another kind of subjectivist criticism. These critics consider all the writings of an author as the expression of his or her mind-set or way of looking at reality. Such a critic looks for repeated or obsessive use of certain key words, incidents, patterns, and angles of vision, and, using these, maps out thereby the inner world of the writer.”

A revealing examination of an author's worldview, this approach is reliable within an artistic medium but not a commercial market. Monetary considerations may influence the act of creation, skewing an accurate analysis. The phenomenological critic appeals to academics. Immersion in this method can be obsessive in itself, for repetition in a writer's work is often due to poor editing rather than a deep-seated vision.