The different studies of literature and its history have defined
approaches or methods that focus on the different elements of
circumstances of the literary exchange.
Participants of Literary Exchange
The text The receiver
Author, other factors
that produce the text
• These different emphases are a matter of asking different kinds of questions.
• A school of literary criticism originated in Russia.
• Emerged in the early 20th century.
• Originally focused in poetry.
• The Russians who developed it are called formalists.
• Roman Jacobson and fellow formalists translated into English . The
English began to take notice of their different approach to Literature.
• The formalist perspective was assimilated and developed by the French
before it made an impact on the English and American theories.
• Analysis of the text itself
• Readers do not need detailed contextual knowledge beyond the text.
• The meaning is inherently conveyed in the text’s unique form or
• The form of the work as a whole
• The form of each individual part of the text (the individual
scenes and chapters)
• The characters, the settings, the tone, the point of view
• The diction
• All other elements of the text which join to make it a single
• Biographical information about the author, historical events
outside of the story, or literary allusions, mythological
patterns, or psychoanalytical traits of the characters.
• Their intention was to redefine literature; what it means to
• They did not simply aim to identify the brilliant ideas or
themes employed by the writer.
Formalists point: appreciate how writers manipulate the form.
They argue that :
literary language should be different from ordinary language.
• To see the world a new.
• Viktor Shklovsky(1917):” Literature has the ability
make us see the world anew- to make that which
become familiar, because we have been
to it, strange again.”
• What makes a literary work different from other texts.
• Literariness in poetry : ordinary language becomes defamiliarized.
• Poetry subjects language to a process of defamiliarization.
It employs many devices
• Defamiliarization is considered to be the ultimate criterion in
FABULA AND SYUZHET
• How can we distinguish between the language of fiction and from
• Presentation of language
In order to clarify this , they introduced two concept : Fabula and
• Fabula: a straight forward account of something- tells what
actually happens. (like a short summary).
• Syuzhet: manipulation of fabula creates syuzhet(the story as it
is actually told).
• One Fabula can produce many syuzhet.
The syuzhet has the defamiliarizing effect. It actively interferes with the
• Propp: if you looked closely at
many Russian folktales , you will
the same underlying story.
• He was not a formalist , nor
interested in literariness and hardly
differentiated between fabula and
• In many chronically told folktales,
both are identical.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT HIS IDEA?
• Fairytales might tell one and the same underlying story.
• Telling these tales from the same basic story is possible by thinking in
terms of actors and functions.
• E.g. helper
• Propp distinguishes a limited number of actors or ( dramatic personae)
and 31 functions.
Keep in mind
• The emphasis is on the form and structure not content.
• They viewed Literature as a collection of devices interacting in the text.
• Assumed literariness to be a product of employed devices.
• Literariness is crafted by defamiliarizing devices.
• Estrangement of literary art can help to reach a better understanding of
• Formalists looked into the ways in which the language of literature differs
from ordinary language.