Volume 16, Issue 64 (2023)                   LCQ 2023, 16(64): 2-32 | Back to browse issues page

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amankhani I. Literary Theory and Democracy (Reflection on the relationship between democracy and literary theories). LCQ 2023; 16 (64) :2-32
URL: http://lcq.modares.ac.ir/article-29-72589-en.html
Golestsn University , amankhani27@yahoo.com
Abstract:   (406 Views)
What is the relationship between democracy and literary theories? Some individuals have considered this relationship as cause and effect, they have said that the relationship between the two is direct; Cause and effect in the sense that one (democracy) is the cause of another (criticism/literary theory) and direct as there is no intermediary/variable between them. But it seems that the relationship between these two is more complicated than it appears primarily, because not only the relationship between literary theory and democracy is complex and multifaceted, but mediators such as minorities also play a role in it. Democracy as a political system has a long history. Despite this fact and its continuous evolution throughout history, many of its issues still remain unsolved and no definitive solution has been found. One of these issues is "minorities". The ideal of democracy is the management of society by all people, but the existence of minorities - who usually do not participate in society due to oppression - has made the realization of this ideal far from reach and difficult. Solving this difficult issue has been the concern of many theorists, especially democracy theorists. Establishing laws to protect minorities and so on has been one of these solutions. Literary theories are also one of these solutions to solve the problem of minorities. Literary theories - each of which deals with one or more groups of minorities such as women, immigrants, natives, etc. - attempt to free the minorities from the subjugation of others and provide the basis for their participation in the society. In this way, democracy will be exalted.
Extended Abstract
 Literary theories in Iran are employed to read literary texts and this relegates their status to mere instruments. This outlook toward literary theories is not incorrect at all; however, due to its overdominance most issues related to literary theories have been either marginalized or received scant attention. For instance, scholars have rarely addressed the relationship between the political systems, especially democracy, and literary theories or they have rarely asked why democracy has been the origin of literary theories or why literary theories have not emerged in totalitarian regimes such as Nazi German or Bolshevik Russia. According to the present study’s author, firstly, raising these kinds of questions about literary theories is as important as reading literary texts in the light of literary theories, and secondly, reflecting and doing research on these questions will contribute to a deeper and more precise understanding of democracy. The current article deals with the relationship between literary theories and democracy to clarify their relation. The author contends that one needs to pay attention to other mediators like minorities to elucidate the connection between literary theories and democracy because by disregarding these mediators one cannot explicate the link between democracy and literary theories.

 The history of democracy dates back to ancient Greece. Since then, democracy has experienced many events and different forms. Naturally, in the course of these years, many of its defects have been cured approaching its ideal form in which all people rule themselves. Nevertheless, there are still unresolved issues about democracy causing it to be inaccessible. The issue of minorities is one of them. Minorities are ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups whose right to participation in society has been taken away. To materialize the ideal democracy, not only must the minorities take part in social activities but also their voices have to be heard.  To bring these minorities into society and support them in the face of majorities, many solutions have been presented such as passing international laws and drawing up contracts. Literary theories can contribute to this object as well.  One of the goals of literary theories is to deliver minorities from their subjugation by bringing them from the margins to the center. For example, feminism, as a branch of literary theory, brought women into the text. Likewise, Marxism enabled the voice of the working class to be heard by the bourgeois class. In the same vein, Derrida’s deconstruction seeks to accomplish a similar goal. By deconstructing any type of centrism, deconstruction attempted to bring back all marginalized groups such as migrants to the text. Literary theories only seem to belong to the realm of literature, yet they have played an active role in redeeming the minorities from their subjugation. For instance, Iser and Jauss (key thinkers and critics of reader-response theory) endeavored to deliver readers from the domination of authors. In doing so, they paved the path for the readers to engage in the process of interpreting the text.
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Article Type: Original Research | Subject: Literary theory
Received: 2023/11/23 | Accepted: 2024/03/5 | Published: 2024/02/29

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