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Cover for Beauty and the Critic

Beauty and the Critic

Aesthetics in an Age of Cultural Studies

James Soderholm (Editor)


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Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (7/31/1997)


This call to restore a sense of beauty to our culture will serve
as a bellwether of the future of literary studies.

Beauty and the Critic brings together well-known
members of the literary academy to reassert the importance of "aesthetic
criticism" and the treatment of literature as art.

The contributors are responding to what the editor calls
"the banality of partisanship of literary criticism in this country."
The common focus is a shared suspicion of critics who are only interested
in reducing authors and their works to ideological elements, thereby mostly
ignoring what makes their writings distinctive as works of art. This focus,
however, by no means represents a curmudgeonly reaction or a united front.
Indeed, the collection's strength is precisely its rich diversity even
as the contributors struggle with familiar problems in contemporary criticism,
including the problem of the increasing distance between the language of
the professoriate and the language of the general reader.

This collection of essays by its very nature does not
present a solution to the problem but demonstrates that critics still have
many ways to approach literature that attend to its peculiar idiom and
its distinctive achievement. The essays suggest that the profession of
literature is undergoing a sea change, not necessarily for the better,
and that popular models of interpretation have become rote, shopworn conventions--techniques
that replace thought rather than express it. James Soderholm and his colleagues
invite us to restore a sense of beauty and a sense of dignity to the study
of literature.

Praise For Beauty and the Critic: Aesthetics in an Age of Cultural Studies

"Beauty and the Critic will stimulate and inform currentreflection on issues central to the nature and raison d'etre of the literarydisciplines and, more generally, the humanities."—Paisley Livingston, McGill University

"This is a timely collection of essays, presented justas the poststructuralist "hermeneutics of suspicion" is itselfcoming under suspicion. The richly diverse approaches represented hereall return us, with the benefit of modern critical hindsight, to the "aestheticquestion" that still lies at the heart of experiencing literature."—Dwight Eddins, The University of Alabama

University Alabama Press, 9780817308919, 256pp.

Publication Date: July 31, 1997