FORMALIST CRITICISM

Brooks, Cleanth. The Well Wrought Urn. (1947)
In this collection of essays, Brooks explains the theory and principles of the formalist approach to literature. Brooks demonstrates the formalist method through his analytical close reading of a number of poems, through which he shows how each part must be understood within the context of the "organic whole" of the work. He argues that the meaning of a poem cannot be paraphrased, since content and form are inseparable.

Schorer, Mark. The World We Imagine. (1968)
This collection includes "Technique as Discovery" and "Fiction and the Analogical Matrix'", in which Schorer demonstrates that the formalist approach is as applicable to fictional prose as it is to poetry. By way of examples, Schorer explores the interactive and inextricable relationship between the themes and the language, point of view, and metaphors in various novels.

Spurlin, William J., and Michael Fischer, eds. The New Criticism and Contemporary Literary Theory: Connections and Continuities. (1995)
This collection brings together essays by the original proponents of formalist criticism (including Cleanth Brooks, John Crowe Ransom, and Robert Penn Warren) and essays by late 20th century literary critics, who reflect on the impact, evolution, and contemporary relevance of formalism.

Formalism or The New Criticism
This site provides an overview of Formalist Criticism, including a short discussion of the philosophical assumptions of Formalism, characteristics of Formalist analysis, summaries of important Formalist essays, and sample student assignment.

The Literary Explorer
A helpful overview of many types of critical approaches, including formalism.

How to Use Formalist Tools to Analyze Literature
This page presents a six-step process to formalist analysis.

New Criticism Explained
A concise, point-form overview of the assumptions, major figures, and contentious elements of New Criticism.


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