Criticism and Truth: On Method in Literary Studies


Product Details

University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.5 X 0.32 inches | 0.4 pounds
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About the Author

Jonathan Kramnick is the Maynard Mack Professor of English and director of the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University. He is the author of Making the English Canon, Actions and Objects from Hobbes to Richardson, and Paper Minds, the latter also published by the University of Chicago Press.


"Here is the study of literary critical method we needed--a slim volume capable of displacing shelves of manifestos on the future of the discipline. What do literary critics know, and how do they know it? Criticism and Truth grounds our distinctive epistemology in everyday practices--how we quote and paraphrase our objects of study, share the medium of language with them, and build plot summaries. It captures the brilliance of literary critics everywhere, yet only Jonathan Kramnick could have written this gemlike book."-- "Rachel Sagner Buurma, coauthor of "The Teaching Archive""
"In a highly skilled performance of his own, Kramnick discloses the artistry and creativity embedded in routine acts of close reading. Such methodological reflection is long overdue and marks an important step toward making literary critics' tacit values and abilities intelligible to themselves."-- "Elaine Auyoung, University of Minnesota"
"Criticism and Truth doesn't just declare a truce in the method wars: it shows that our squabbling has obscured the deeper truth of a shared disciplinary craft. Lavishing his own considerable analytic gifts on the unfairly unloved genre of contemporary criticism, Kramnick beautifully describes--for what feels like the first time--what literary scholars do, and why their everyday virtuosity matters."-- "David Kurnick, Rutgers University"
"Animated by ardency and urgency, written in pellucid prose, argued with finesse and flair, Criticism and Truth is both beautiful and true. It persuades even as it galvanizes. Kramnick's taut, elegant book should be read widely, its moral passion a beacon for all of us who care about the fate of literature and the humanities."-- "Priscilla Gilman, author of "The Anti-Romantic Child" and "The Critic's Daughter""
"The authorʼs meticulous analysis offers an eye-opening take on literary criticism as a creative process . . . English scholars will want to take a look."-- "Publishers Weekly"
"[Kramnick] expresses alarm at the prospects of academic literary criticism's continued existence as a recognized field of study within the contemporary university. . . . Articulating the place of literature in 'collective human flourishing'--or specifying what distinguishes literature from other kinds of written language, for that matter-- falls outside Kramnick's project at hand. Bracketing such questions. . . gives the book its quality of extreme concentration and lucidity in the pursuit of the common element in thriving academic literary criticism: the element that must be preserved, lest the whole discipline disappear. . . . [Criticism and Truth] merits attention beyond its field."
--Scott McLemee "Inside Higher Education"