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

Literary Criticism

Methods and Institutions: Eliot, Richards and Leavis

My discussion of the work of Woolf, Murry and Orage in the previous chapter indicates that the personal authority of the Victorian men of letters continued to be used well into the twentieth century, to underwrite judgements about literature that were set in opposition to the values of scholarship. All three of these critics drew… Continue reading Methods and Institutions: Eliot, Richards and Leavis