CFP: Practical Criticism and its Legacies (UK) (7/15/07; 6/26/08-6/27/08)

full name / name of organization: 
John Sears
contact email: 


An international conference to be hosted by the English Research Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University, 26th â€" 27th June 2008.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Professor Ben Knights, Director of the HEA English Subject Centre
Dr Gary Day, De Montfort University

I. A. Richards’ foundational text Practical Criticism, which he described as ‘in part … the record of a piece of field-work in comparative ideology’, was published by Cambridge University Press in 1929. Its methodological and theoretical assumptions constitute the basis of all subsequent teaching and much critical analysis of literary texts. Practical criticism is still the first mode of encounter with literary texts for most students, and major traditions of literary analysis and theory, from New Critical approaches to deconstruction, from psychological and psychoanalytic approaches to linguistic and reader-response theories, owe conceptual and methodological debts to Richards’ project in Practical Criticism. The book provided a series of models for the reading of texts, the comprehension of contexts, and the processes of interpretation, analysis and composition, which has influenced subsequent critical practice in profound ways.

This conference will explore the arguments and assumptions, influences and legacies, reactions against and developments from, and contemporary versions of and responses to the traditions of critical reading established by Richards’ text. A selection of the papers will be included in a planned volume marking in 2009 the 80th anniversary of the publication of Practical Criticism. Proposals are invited for papers of 20 minutes duration which may consider, but are not restricted to, the following themes:

- pre-cursors and origins of Richards’ methodologies and practices: close reading before Practical Criticism
- the publishing history of Practical Criticism â€" editions and variations
- theorising and historicising versions of practical criticism in practice: close reading, blind reading, textual analysis, passage comprehension
- Richards’ methods, categories, arguments, strategies: ethical, political and practical implications
- Richards, Leavis, Empson and reading the English canon
- Practical Criticism and European and American literary theories
- Objective and subjective readings, negotiated meaning, protocols and stock responses in literary analysis
- Cognitive approaches to practical criticism; schema theory and other models
- Practical criticism of prose, drama, poetry
- Practical criticism and reader-response theories
- Practical criticism and efferent / aesthetic reading
- Practical criticism and identity politics
- Practical criticism and genre theory
- Languages of practical critical analysis; rhetorics, terminologies, terms
- Tracing the influences of Practical Criticism on subsequent critical and theoretical developments in literary analysis
- Practical criticism in contemporary teaching and learning
- Practical criticism and models of creativity
- Re-reading Practical Criticism in the light of recent theory and post-theory
- Practical criticism and deconstruction
- Practical criticism and linguistic criticism
- Practical criticism and new media; digital and other textualities
- Applications of practical criticism outside literary studies
- Futures of practical criticism in and outside the academy

Please submit proposals (250 words) before 15th July 2007 to:

Dr John Sears
Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
MMU Cheshire
Crewe Green Road
Crewe, CW1 7JE, England

Or by email to

Dr John Sears
Senior Lecturer, English Literature
Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
MMU Cheshire
Crewe Green Road
Crewe CW1 5DU

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Received on Thu May 17 2007 - 15:28:09 EDT