“Formalism or Russian Formalism: Russian school of literary criticism that flourished 1914-28. Making use of the linguistic theories of Ferdinand de Saussure, Formalists were concerned with what technical devices make a literary text literary, apart from its psychological, sociological, biographical, and historical elements. Though influenced by the Symbolist movement, they sought to make their analyses more objective and scientific than those of the Symbolists. The movement was condemned by the Soviet authorities in 1929 for its lack of political perspective. Later, it became influential in the West, notably in New Criticism and structuralism.”
Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.