Literary criticism: Reflective, attentive consideration and analysis of a literary work. The term criticism comes from the Greek kritikos, which refers to the ability to discern or judge. In keeping with the etymology of the term, many critics contend that an evaluation of the work, considering both its merits and its faults to arrive at a deliberate assessment, is an essential element of literary criticism; others, however, maintain that examination and analysis are sufficient.

Many schools or types of literary criticism exist, especially given the proliferation of theories of criticism in Europe and North America since the 1970s. Some involve close and detailed analysis of the text, others the biographical background of the writer or the historical contexts within which the work was written, and still others the reader’s subjective response to the work. Each school or type of literary criticism privileges some aspect or aspects of the work over others, as well as particular strategies of reading or interpretation.

Types of criticism include antithetical criticism, archetypal criticism, autobiographical criticism, Chicago school, contextual criticism, cultural criticism, deconstruction, dialectical criticism, dialogic criticism, disability studies, discourse analysis, ecocriticism, expressive criticism, feminist criticism, formalism, gay and lesbian criticism, gender criticism, Geneva School, gynocriticism, historicism, impressionistic criticism, judicial criticism, Jungian criticism, Marxist criticism, mimetic criticism, myth(ic) criticism, the New Criticism, the new historicism, objective criticism, personal criticism, phenomenological criticism, Platonic criticism, postcolonial theory, poststructuralism, practical (applied) criticism, pragmatic criticism, psychoanalytic criticism, psychological criticism, queer theory, reader-response criticism, rhetorical criticism, Russian formalism, structuralist criticism, stylistics, and theoretical criticism.