The Arts and Sciences of Criticism


This collection reflects on developments in criticism which bear on a debate between different modes of knowledge: a science model and its place in the university versus other ways of conceiving knowledge for which the arts have traditionally been seen as vehicles. Discussion ranges widely with contributions from outside the literary academy, including essays by the novelists Doris Lessing and David Lodge. All the essays are concerned with what literature, and therefore criticism, is or aims to be. Several are concerned with a specifically aesthetic way of knowing, the value of which lies in its very resistance to scientific models of knowledge. The answers about how literature can resist such models, and what kinds of knowing best respond to the distinctive nature of aesthetic experience, are varied. The collection also addresses the consequences for literary criticism of the politically-driven critique which has recently undermined traditional concepts of truth and knowledge in both arts and sciences. And finally it asks whether professional criticism should be a deepened extension of the sense-making activity of ordinary intelligent reading, or whether it should be a purely objective study, analogous to other scientific forms of knowledge studied in an academic context.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Patricia Waugh
  • David E. Cooper
  • Raymond Tallis
  • Jacques Berthoud
  • Michael O'Neill
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Oxford
Publication year:
  • 1999


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