Chapter

The Mythic Method and the Foundations of Modern Literary Criticism

Cairns Craig

in Associationism and the Literary Imagination

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780748609123
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652044 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748609123.003.0005
The Mythic Method and the Foundations of Modern Literary Criticism

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This chapter takes a look at associationism and the basis of modern literary criticism. It first discusses the combination of associationism with an evolutionary perspective and the concept of ‘ideational continuum’. The chapter then considers the dependence of art on the activation of a memory, or engrams. It shows that the canon of art is also viewed as an ‘ideal continuum’ which can build relations between significant moments that have no reality in any original experience. The discussion also examines emotion, which invokes or provokes a number of associations. The chapter furthermore includes a diagrammatic form of a series of mutually interacting fibres of ‘stimulation’ which shows various kinds of associations with emotions. Poetic imagination, the symbolic structures of myth, and the recovery of ancient association are discussed.

Keywords: modern literary criticism; evolutionary perspective; ideational continuum; engrams; ideal continuum; emotion; poetic imagination; symbolic structures; myth; ancient association

Chapter.  22475 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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