New Criticism


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to New Criticism: New Historicism

New Criticism

 

a school of American literary criticism and scholarship.

The New Criticism emerged in the USA during the 1930’s. It was influenced by the English critics I. A. Richards (who applied semantics to literary criticism) and W. Empson (who stressed the layers of meaning in a text), the philosopher T. Hulme, and the poets T. S. Eliot and E. Pound. The New Criticism attacked literature oriented toward social criticism, as well as sociological and Marxist literary scholarship. During the 1940’s and 1950’s the New Criticism monopolized American literary criticism. Since that time it has been going through a crisis.

The theoretical foundations of the New Criticism were formulated in A. Tate’s Reactionary Essays on Poetry and Ideas (1936), C. Brooks’ Modern Poetry and the Tradition (1939), J. C. Ransom’s World’s Body (1938) and The New Criticism (1941), and R. P. Blackmur’s Language as Gesture (1952). The New Criticism considers its principal task to be close reading—that is, the discovery of the specific and at the same time universal meaning of the text, including the significance of metaphors, similes, and the entire system of images.

The New Criticism pays particular attention to deciphering symbolism, which reflects the underlying motives of human behavior (K. Burke, The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action, 1941). It also seeks to reveal the multiplicity of meanings (and the ambivalence) in a poetical work and to interpret style as an indication of a certain frame of mind. A number of the techniques applied by the New Criticism in analyzing texts are productive. However, by regarding a literary work as a closed, self-sufficient linguistic structure (close reading), the New Criticism ignores its sociohistorical genesis and social orientation, as well as the author’s conscious aims and the sociobiographical aspect of his personality.

In France, the New Criticism developed in the late 1950’s. It was influenced primarily by structuralism in anthropology (C. Lévi-Strauss), linguistics (F. de Saussure and R. Jakobson), and semiotics (L. Hjelmslev), in their polemic with the school of cultural history and the aesthetics of existentialism.

In the early 1970’s the New Criticism comprised various trends, such as the Tel quel and Changes groups. The most general principles of French New Criticism were formulated by R. Barthes. It focuses on such problems as the internal structure of works (R. Barthes), narration and plot development (A. J. Greimas and C. Bremond), and the nature of poetic speech (T. Todorov), all of which are related to the development of the new rhetoric (the “M” group). Attempts are being made to apply N. Chomsky’s generative linguistics to the analysis of literary texts (J. Kristeva).

The American and French schools of the New Criticism are regarded by Soviet scholars as varieties of the formalistic method in literary scholarship.

REFERENCES

Weiman, R. “Novaia kritika” i razvitie burzhuaznogo literaturovedeniia. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from German.)
Gilenson, B. A. “Zametki o ‘novoi kritike’.” In Voprosy estetiki, fasc. 8. Moscow, 1968.
Elton, W. A Guide to the New Criticism. Chicago, 1953.
Barthes, R. Critique et vérité. Paris, 1966.
Doubrovsky, S. Pourquoi La Nouvelle Critique: Critique et objectivité. Paris, 1967.

B. A. GILENSON (New Criticism in the USA) and G. K. KOSIKOV

References in periodicals archive ?
The chart of work published by Korean scholars on Dickinson's poetry suggests that the conventional categories made by the first editors of Dickinson in the 18905 and reinforced in New Criticism are still widely circulating in Korean scholarship.
Ultimately, Richards's Practical Criticism became, together with Empson's Seven Types, the debating point from which John Crowe Ransom launched his often cited--and less often read--1940 volume The New Criticism.
In spite of Hsia's ostensible rejection of modern Chinese (and especially socialist) literary realism, Button convincingly demonstrates the existence of strong philosophical links between Hsia's New Criticism and modern Chinese Marxist aesthetics that make impossible simple opposition between the two.
Powell sets her readings of the works of Betts and McLaurin against the backdrop of the development of creative writing as an academic subject, the influence of New Criticism, and the conservatism of the Agrarians in order to interrogate the individual ways they work to bridge their regional and academic identities.
The recommendation from the advisory body was a response to a week of violence that has heaped new criticism on the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces which assumed power from Hosni Mubarak a year ago.
Literary criticism has seen no evolution within the twentieth century as salutary as the New Criticism.
Since the death of literature professor and critic Mel Bradford nearly 20 years ago, however, there has been a discernable decline in the understanding of Southern traditionalist conservatism, particularly the interrelatedness between Agrarianism, the New Criticism, and the Southern literary renaissance.
Perloff got her PhD in 1965, and this indicates that she was taught New Criticism and trained as a New Critic.
On May 29, the group attracted new criticism after it was said several tankers part-owned by an Ofer brother had repeatedly carried crudes and refined products to and from "various ports in Iran".
Rather than a mere side-kick of the latest 'slow' craze, then, slow reading has a well-established intellectual history, (2) sharing characteristics with, for example, the 'close reading' practice promoted by New Criticism in English departments but also, and importantly, pushing beyond New Criticism's somewhat clinical approach to a text--to a space where, as J.
MOTORISTS face more snow chaos next winter unless the Government acts on damning new criticism, a Teesside MP has warned.
31% of grade 11 teachers use a close reading or new criticism approach in teaching literary nonfiction.