The Future of Literary Theory. Challenges and Possibilities. Formerly the history of criticism was part of the history of literature (the story of changing conceptions of literature advanced by great writers), but …. Now the history of literature is part of the history of criticism.
Challenges and Possibilities
Formerly the history of criticism was part of the history of literature (the story of changing conceptions of literature advanced by great writers), but …. Now the history of literature is part of the history of criticism.
Jonathan Culler - Framing the Sign: Criticisms and Its Institutions
Plato:- He banned poetry from his ideal Republic on the grounds that Poetry was three times removed from the reality and it appealed to our lower nature , exciting our passions to revolt against reason.
Aristotle:- Unlike Plato, Aristotle considered poetry as a productive art and associated it with a moral purpose. He declared tragedy as an action which was complete, linear and serious with an elevated language producing emotions of pity and fear in an audience.
Horace:- He urged that Poetry must be both pleasing (morally and Intellectually) and useful. It was applied to Literature in general also which dominated much literary Criticism until eighteenth century.
He saw literature as a direct expression of eternal essences. He connected it with higher spiritual realms and to the divine.
He attempted to trace the appropriate connections between literal and figurative language in the reading of scripture.
Neoplatonists in general elaborated notions of allegory which enabled a harmony between the old and new testaments.
Aquinas & Dante :-
They refined the neo-platonic notions of allegory. The meanings of language went beyond the literal level and entered the domain of allegorical, moral and mystical level.
Medieval aesthetics focused on the beauty, order and harmony of God’s creation. It perceived literature as one part of an ordered hierarchy of knowledge leading to the divine.
Renaissance critics re-examined the notions of imitation, the didactic role of literature and classification of genres.
Theory has been accused of destroying values with the introduction of a bewildering cultural relativism; but equally, one might argue that in a multicultural society where the variety of values inevitably produces self reflection and awareness of situated perspective, theory was bound to happen.
Theory encourages ‘academic cults’ that are very divorced from any reality and that provide a defense against dealing with the world as it actually is.
We can never be ‘after theory’, in the sense that there can be no reflective human life without it. We can simply run out of particular styles of thinking , as our situation changes…It was, after all, the theory which assured us that grand narratives were a thing of the past. Perhaps we will be able to see it, in retrospect, as one of the little narratives of which it has been so fond.
Terry Eagleton- After Theory