Themes in Literature

Literary Guild

Guilds were associations of men and sometimes women that performed a combination of social, religious, and economic activities. More prevalent in urban areas, they tended to be either parish organizations created to perform religious devotions, or craft or trade fellowships designed to regulate their organizations (membership, craft standards, and other activities), protect their business from… Continue reading Literary Guild

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Literary Criticism

The place of criticism: A wider view

What has emerged from this discussion of the reform of English Literature at A-level is that the tension between the specialist discipline of English and the private act of reading is still ongoing. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this tension took two easily distinguishable forms: the intellectual authority that was used to… Continue reading The place of criticism: A wider view

Literary Criticism

The new A-level: The treatment of contexts

Reactions to the revised specifications were mixed. One English teacher, Pamela Bickley, described QCA’s new version of English Literature as ‘positively encouraging’. Its emphasis on contextuality made it a welcome alternative to ‘the A-Level tendency to study a work of literature as a discrete entity that springs to life fully formed’ and offered ‘far less… Continue reading The new A-level: The treatment of contexts

Literary Criticism

F. R. Leavis: The university and the sage

Richards’s sense of the narrowness of literary scholarship is apparent in the direction taken by his career. After the publication of Practical Criticism in 1929, he spent relatively little time in Cambridge: in 1934, he was commissioned by the General Education Board in New York to recom- mend a set of improvements in the teaching… Continue reading F. R. Leavis: The university and the sage

Literary Criticism

I. A. Richards: Meaning and value

Eliot’s rejection of the ‘lemon-squeezer school of criticism’ also adds an ironic twist to Tillyard’s claim that Eliot was himself a central figure in the development of such a school, promoting critical rigour and the need for the ‘minute exegesis’ of difficult texts. By 1956, Eliot had become con- vinced that criticism should be directed… Continue reading I. A. Richards: Meaning and value

Literary Criticism

Personal authority and the retreat from scholarship

Such a focus on language gives many of Eliot’s writings a characteristic structure that is at once an echo of Walter Bagehot’s notion of the ‘review-like essay’,33 and a potential blueprint for an academic essay that could demonstrate the capacity for judgement as well as know- ledge that he praised in the work of W.… Continue reading Personal authority and the retreat from scholarship