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ENGL 4800-Introduction to Literary Theory: Formalism

Key Individuals

Russian Formalism

Mikhail Bakhtin

Victor Erlich

Roman Jackobson

Victor Shklovsky

Yuri Tynyanov

New Criticism

Monroe Beardsley

Cleanth Brooks

William Epson

John Crowe Ransom

I.A. Richards

Allen Tate

Robert Penn Warren

William Wamsatt

NeoAristolianism (Chicago School)

Wayne Booth

R.S. Crane

W.R. Keast

Norman Maclean

Richard McKeon

Elder Olson

Bernard Weinbertg

Books in the Library

Formalism stresses the importance of literary form (organization, structure, and verbal nuances) to the meaning of a work. 

The formalist movement began in England with I.A. Richard's Practical Criticism. Richards asked students to interpret famous poems without telling them the poet's names.  In this way, students would focus more on the text, and less on the details of the poet's life or the poem's historical context.