Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: literature a moral harm

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 26 Aug 2006

Michael Sharp wrote:

Not to quibble academic terms too much, but New Critics actually are infamous for (according to their critics) ignoring moral issues, of thinking of the text as a world unto itself, an artifact insulated from the issues of the broader culture (incl the author) that produced it. I don't think of New Critics as, paradigmatically, focusing on literature's moral questions -- more on its structure and composition.

************* Charles Bressler in Literary Criticism:

"New Criticism begins by assuming the the study of imaginative literature is valuable; to study poetry or any literary works is to engage in an aesthetic experience (the effects produced on an individual when contemplating a work of art) that can lead to truth."

Nothing about morals in that, I guess. Just truth. Let's try this one, a quote from Eagleton's Literary Theory, concerning the Leavis' Scrutiny, considered one of the first texts of the New Criticism:

"Scrutiny was the title of the critical journal launched in 1932 by the Leavises, which has yet to be surpassed in its tenacious devotion to the moral centrality of English studies, their crucial relevance to the quality of social life as a whole."

We're probably just having troubles with terminology. Your description of the New Critics comes closer to what I think of as the Formalists. Six of one, half dozen of the other...


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 26 Aug 2006 EDT