The last thirty years

Over the last thirty years, a number of new ways of approaching literary texts have emerged and have affected criticism of Great Expectations, no less than any other literary work:

  • there has been a new interest in literary sub-genres, including detective stories, science fiction, supernatural fiction, Gothic and sensation fiction (Great Expectationsis indebted to the latter two sub-genres)
  • the emergence of specifically feminine and feminist literary history and literary criticism, which has sought to establish new strands of literary tradition and new viewpoints from which to discuss literature; this has led to a new concentration on women characters, both major and minor
  • psychoanalytic criticism, which reads texts in terms of how they relate to the author's experience, or the relationship between the text and the reader, or the behaviour of individual character
  • the development of formalist criticism has led to a new attention to how fictional narratives behave, particularly in cases where first-person, unreliable or multiple narrative voices are used
  • post-colonial criticism re-evaluates the ways in which the colonial experience had been represented in the writings of colonial powers and to emphasise different aspects of that experience
  • a concentration on the publication, distribution and reception of literary texts has added to our understanding ofhow such matters may affect both the form and content of works of literature
  • finally, new historicist criticism has turned its attention to the ways in which the shape and meaning of texts in all genres may be determined by contemporary social, cultural and political concerns.
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