Approaches to critical review writing are the perspectives or angles you can use in reviewing a work. They are referred to as lenses use to critically review a work. There are various approaches to critical reviewing.
Moral Approach: This approach primarily focuses on the moral implications of a work to the society. The approach says the basic function of every work is to teach morality; aesthetic value or beauty of the work is secondary. Not everyone may agree with this but those who adopt this approach use the morality lenses to review a work.
Sociological approach says works are not produced in isolation, that there is always a relationship between works of art and the society. It says while reviewing a work you should search for its significance to the society. If for instance, the work is talking about an issue in the society such as HIV, Democracy, Corruption, among others, you evaluate the work based on how well such issue was treated in the work.
Formalistic approach consists of reviewing a work based on its aesthetic value, that is, its ability to achieve what it intended to achieve. You are looking at the form and content of the work, whether the work appealed to the audience, how interesting, exciting, intriguing or captivating the work is, how good the work of art is.
The psychological approach recognises that there are individual differences and people could produce works based on these differences. It says a person’s feeling, attitude, or disposition towards an issue, a class of people or anything could influence their works on that issue or thing. A person’s general disposition, attitude, behaviour or even mental state of mind could influence his works. For example, an Igbo man who witnessed the Biafra war could have a different disposition while writing a book on that war, from someone of the Hausa tribe who witnessed events during that war from the other side of the divide. Psychological approach is saying you should do a little bit of research on the background of the author of a work before delving into the review. Your findings on the author’s disposition could be pretty useful in understanding the perspective of his work in order to do an objective review.
The biographical approach consists of evaluation of works based on an understanding of the life of the author. It is related to the psychological approach but while this looks at the life and biographical data of the author, the psychological approach specifically dwells on disposition and behavioural traits. The biographical approach is asking you to find out how the author grew up, or the environmental context which possibly influenced the work.
The deconstructionist approach recognises that the language or words used by the author could have a different expression from the actual meaning. The author could use specific words or possibly slang words to appeal to the audience. You need to understand those words and their meanings in order to do an objective review. You don’t judge the work based on the original meaning of the words. This approach is saying that words could symbolise meanings different from the actual meanings generally known. This approach is saying that the language used may not actually represent reality but how the language is used is what matters. Someone could be writing on rape of democracy; here rape is used to represent high injustice in a democratic setting. So words could symbolise different meanings.
Mythological approach is saying that myths and symbols are common to various cultures therefore while reviewing a literary work you should understand the common myths reflected in the work in order to do an objective review.
Gender approach basically talks about how sexual identity could influence people’s works or how the audience interpret a work. It primarily deals with reviewing a work from the perspective of how a specific gender is treated in that work. You don’t look at the work from a general point of checking its aesthetic value but from how the work, for instance, discussed women or treated them in specific scenes or chapters. A typical example is the song entitled “To Be A Man” by Nigerian artiste “Flavour”. Some critics argue that the work was not fair on women because it kept praising men and creating impression that they alone take care of the family ignoring the contributions of women to family upkeep.