Many types of literary criticism abound, formalism plays on the theory that the pieces form is what composes its persona. To the formalist literature must have specified defining qualities to attain status as a literary work. 1Some of the defining qualities might be functionality, figurative language, universality, appropriate subject matter, excellence in technique, authorial intention to create an art work, aesthetic value, originality, verisimilitude, narrative structure, et al. Because of these requirements formalism commonly uses a form of 2 analysis called "close reading". True formalists 3believe that all information necessary to the interpretation of a work must be found in the work itself. From 1910 through the 20's Russia produced some of the more prominent formalistic critics and theorists including Victor Shklovsky and Vladimir Propp. These formalists thought of literature as art and broke it down as such, taking familiar works and looking at them in new ways, just as abstract artists do. .
In formalism the breakdown and analysis of the rudimentary structures gives new interpretations on previous works of literature. An example of this would be, 4while Othello may be an African Moor, no amount of scholarship about the history of African Moors will be of much interest to the formalist, since the meaning of Othello's blackness can only be understood by looking at how his race is combined with other elements within the text, such as his actions, his language, his station, his relation to women, his masculinity, etc. Whatever meaning "blackness" may have for the audience before the play starts, the play changes the meaning of "blackness" by putting it in a formal context that gives "blackness" here a particular and different meaning. Look, for example, at how the words "black" and "blackness" and "white" are used in the play, by whom, and for what purposes. The formalistic approach would discard the concept that the piece is and allusion to the world around it.