UPDATE: Rereading the New Criticism (4/15/06; MSA; 10/19/06-10/22/06)

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

New deadline:

 Rereading the New Criticism

Commentators such as Gerald Graff and Mark Jancovich have noted that, since
the demise in the 1960s of the New Critical hegemony, contemporary critical
discourse has often promoted misunderstandings of New Critical projects.
The image of the New Criticism as ahistorical formalism, they suggest,
misrepresents the New Critics' commitment to practices and epistemologies
distinctive to literature; their engagement with social and historical
issues; and their cultural politics. These recent critiques encourage
rereading the work of the New Critics from a new perspective-one that
maintains critical distance on received ideas about their methods.

Any such rereading of the New Criticism has significant implications for
modernist studies, given how much contemporary understandings of modernism
owe to the work of the New Critics: as they established themselves in
American universities at mid-century, the New Critics played a vital role in
bringing what we now regard as modernist literature to prominence,
legitimizing it as an area for scholarly study and shaping its reception.
The histories of the New Criticism and modernism are so intertwined that we
risk confusing the cultural stances of the moderns themselves with those of
the critics who featured them. This panel's premise is that the New
Criticism forms a crucial part of the "archives" of our profession, as well
as those of modernism; and that renewed contact with the work of the New
Critics can yield valuable insights into both the profession and modernist

We invite papers that revisit the work of the New Critics from a
contemporary angle. Rather than rehabilitate the New Critics, we aim to
facilitate new encounters with their claims and methods, as well as with the
cultural milieu that conditioned their endeavours. We also invite new
considerations of the relevance that their work might have today to the
criticism of literature and of cultural texts more broadly. How might the
work of Ransom, Brooks, Tate, Wellek, and Warren speak to us today in a
field whose identity and practices were importantly shaped by their
professional projects? What might they have to say to us as critics of
modernism specifically? How might we now view the oft-cited link between
modernism and New Criticism, in light of recent developments within
modernist studies? Resisting constructions of the New Criticism as
homogenous, our panel will instead highlight the divergent perspectives
within what was a broadly constituted critical field.

Topics might include, but are not limited to
            --New Critical claims about how to address literature as
            --New Critical assertions about the kinds of knowledge uniquely
available through literature
            --New Critical pedagogical methods
            --the relationship between New Critical practice and the
assumptions, methodologies, and analytical methods associated with the
domain of science
            --the relationship between the New Critics and their cultural
            --the cultural politics of the New Critics
            --the role of the New Critics in the "Rise of English"
            --the impact of New Critical methods and readings on
understandings of modernism
            --the New Criticism's place in the institutional archive
            --modernism's response[s] to the New Critics

Please send 500-word abstracts along with a brief cv to Miranda Hickman
(miranda.hickman_at_mcgill.ca) or John McIntyre (jmcintyre_at_upei.ca) by April 15,

Dr. John McIntyre
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Prince Edward Island
550 University Avenue
Charlottetown, PE
C1A 4P3

Tel: 902-566-6076
Fax: 902-566-0363

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Received on Tue Apr 04 2006 - 11:03:02 EDT