"Literary theories were developed as a means to understand the various ways people read texts. ... All literary theories are lenses through which we can see texts." Deborah Appleman
"A very basic way of thinking about literary theory is that these ideas act as different lenses critics use to view and talk about art, literature, and even culture. These different lenses allow critics to consider works of art based on certain assumptions within that school of theory. The different lenses also allow critics to focus on particular aspects of a work they consider important."
Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism
Via The OWL at Purdue
Need a refresher about literary theory? The following web sites provide short descriptions of literary theories, tips for applying the theory to a work, and additional resourses you may wish to consult.