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Literary Theory And Criticism Patricia Waugh Pdf Free
this was the context in which so-called new criticism developed as a means of analysing the written work, with all the reductive neutrality that such a practice implied. the new criticsthus presupposed a disregard for the aesthetic and historical context of works of art, and the work examined was intended to stand by itself. the new critics justified this action through a theory of language that denied the semantic and historical connection of texts and a conception of the text as an autonomous entity, although certainly the history of a work is crucial to its interpretation. critics of new criticism found it inadequate to an understanding of the varied experience of reading, and of the role that the history of the text can play in its interpretation. a second strand of theory, associated particularly with the american tradition of literary criticism, described criticism as an activity integral to the interpretation and understanding of art. the theoretical position and activities of literary critics were situated within a conception of cultural criticism as a theory-led and reconstructive enterprise, in which the critic was to engage with the canon, or tradition of literature, in order to create a new understanding of the work in question, which was to be made available for an audience. the aim of this kind of criticism was the creation of new and authentic texts.
over the past four decades, the critics associated with the canon approach have found their roots and their practices firmly installed in the universities, where an entire generation of students has become familiar with the new definition of criticism in terms of the interpretive model it embodies. in countries like the united states and britain, the idea of ‘critical’ as a word associated with the activities of literary critics has become standard in the public discourse, and the term has become attached to almost any involvement in the interpretation and understanding of art. the term has become part of the vocabulary of a disciplinary subculture that associates the activities of the critic with the attitudes and behaviour often found in art galleries, museums and libraries. the influential british critic and academic raymond williams said that this new sense of the word criticism had come to be taken for granted, and that it is a key element of most people’s understanding of what criticism is. the term ‘criticism’ is used to mean almost any act or activity that might be characterised as ‘thinking about’ the artefact we call a book or a film, and, because of the significance of this idea to the dominant mode of humanities teaching today, is a phrase that is likely to figure in any course in literary studies. it is the very use of the term ‘criticism’ that provides the link between art and culture. criticism, as a way of understanding and evaluating art, has ceased to be considered a theory, and the explanations which were built up around the idea of criticism as an activity intimately connected to art theory can no longer be accepted as part of the cultural or theoretical context they were intended to identify. criticism as a word used to describe the activities of cultural critics has become commonplace, and the attitude to it is one of puzzlement that it is so lacking in theoretical content. the reasons why the word is not theoretically contented are complex.
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