Critical Pasts: Writing Criticism, Writing History

Overview

This volume assembles new thinking on the theory, practice, and cultural value of the history of literary criticism. Focusing on a theme that has attracted relatively little developed theoretical commentary hitherto, the authors of these essays draw on specialist areas of critical history - and different kinds of problems - to illustrate the paradoxes that attend any attempt to write the history of critical writing. Commentary begins with medieval literary theory, explores the social dimension of restoration ...

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Overview

This volume assembles new thinking on the theory, practice, and cultural value of the history of literary criticism. Focusing on a theme that has attracted relatively little developed theoretical commentary hitherto, the authors of these essays draw on specialist areas of critical history - and different kinds of problems - to illustrate the paradoxes that attend any attempt to write the history of critical writing. Commentary begins with medieval literary theory, explores the social dimension of restoration criticism, the relations between poetry and criticism, and a test case in eighteenth-century criticism's reception aesthetics. Other essays consider relations between eighteenth-century critical and literary history, between romanticism and New Historicism, and the various ways in which present and past criticism is interrelated. In an introduction to the volume, the editor calls for a clearer confrontation with the representational issues of critical history by those who write about the critical past.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Philip Smallwood is Professor of English at the University of Central England in Birmingham, and the author, most recently, of Reconstructing Criticism: Pope's "Essay on Criticism" and the Logic of Definition (Bucknell University Press, 2003) and Johnson's Critical Presence: Image, History, Judgment (Ashgate Publishing, 2004).

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Table of Contents

Introduction : problems and paradoxes in the history of criticism 1
Literary history, critical history, and the question of "medieval" theory 13
Abandoning theory : towards a social history of critical practices 37
On (not) writing literary and critical history : Dryden's preface to fables, ancient and modern 51
To "value still the true" : Pope's Essay on criticism and the problem of the historical mode 75
Johnson's Lives and the genealogy of late eighteenth-century literary history 95
History and the new historicism : symbol and allegory as poetics of criticism 115
"With love and wonder" : Empson, Donne, and Milton 145
Truth, aesthetics, history 171
The end of criticism : literary criticism, economics, and management discourse 187
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