In What Ways Has Structuralism Impacted on Literary Criticism?

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In what ways has structuralism impacted on literary criticism?

Since the mid twentieth century, the rise of structuralist methodology in literary theory has created seismic shifts opening up the study of text to cultural study and assisting in the development of other theories such as poststructuralism, feminism and postcolonialism. Structuralism challenged the idea of a politically detached study of text, epitomised in the then dominant new/practical criticism approaches. It reinforced the challenge to the tradition of the Leavisite canon already under attack with feminist writers, and encouraged the development of other critical theories which have radically influenced the study of literature today. Traditional literary criticism
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With the Enlightenment, the supremacy of the Church was undermined as thinkers searched for new explanations, founded in human rather than divine agency. Enlightenment thinkers saw human reason as the tool for social progress, although the human was still seen as subservient to the social order. The Enlightenment period is seen as coming to an end with the French Revolution, with its catch cry of Liberty, Fraternity, Equality echoing through to the present.

The Enlightenment belief in the subordination of the individual to the social order gave way as nineteenth century liberal humanism developed, with its elevation of the rights of the individual. The move from an agrarian to industrial economy disrupted the social fabric of European society and changed the ways in which writers viewed themselves and their society. Industrialisation wrought massive change in society, changes impelling writers to confront long established beliefs regarding the rigid structuring of society along some perceived `natural order'. Thinkers such as Marx and Wollstonecroft challenged class and gender hierarchies, while Darwin's Theory of Evolution upset essentialist beliefs that each species had a fixed nature given it by the Creator. In popular writing, authors questioned the social order. Charlotte Bronte's depiction of the independent self willed Jane Eyre upset Victorian sensibilities regarding the proper behaviour of a young female. Dickens' themes of working class life exposed class

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