Ann Hibert Alton

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Psychoanalytic criticism adopts the methods of "reading" employed by Freud and later theorists to interpret what a text really indicates. It argues that "unresolved and sometimes unconscious ambivalences in the author's own life may lead to a disunified literary work," and that the literary work is a manifestation of the author's own neuroses. Psychoanalytic critics focus on apparent dilemmas and conflicts in a work and "attempt to read an author's own family life and traumas into the actions of their characters," realizing that the psychological material will be expressed indirectly, encoded (similar to dreams) through principles such as "condensation," "displacement," and "symbolism."
Feminist criticism critiques patriarchal language and literature by exposing how a work reflects masculine ideology. It examines gender politics in works and traces the subtle construction of masculinity and femininity, and their relative status, positionings, and marginalizations within works.
Marxist criticism argues that literature reflects social institutions and that it is one itself, with a particular ideological function: that literature participates in the series of struggles between oppressed and oppressing classes which makes up human history. Similar to Marx's historical theory, Marxist criticism will focus on the distribution of resources, materialism, class conflict, or the author's analysis of class relations. It examines how some works attempt to shore up an oppressive social order or how they idealize social conflict out of existence, how others offer an alternative collective life or propose a utopian vision as a solution.


Flesh is heretic.

My body is a witch.

I am burning it.
Yes I am torching

ber curves and paps and wiles.

They scorch in my self denials.
How she meshed my head

in the half-truths

of her fevers
till I renounced

milk and honey

and the taste of lunch.
I vomited

her hungers.

Now the bitch is burning.
I am starved and curveless.

I am skin and bone.

She has learned her lesson.
Thin as a rib

I turn in sleep.

My dreams probe
a claustrophobia

a sensuous enclosure.

How warm it was and wide
once by a warm drum,

once by the song of his breath

and in his sleeping side.
Only a little more,

only a few more days

sinless, foodless,
I will slip

back into him again

as if I had never been away.
Caged so

I will grow

angular and holy
past pain,

keeping his heart

such company
as will make me forget

in a small space

the fall
into forked dark,

into python needs

heaving to hips and breasts

and lips and heat

and sweat and fat and greed.

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