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The New Criticism was the major literary critical movement of the middle of the twentieth century. Its first distinguishing feature is that many of its practitioners were among the greatest poets of the period, including Yvor Winters, T. S. Eliot, and John Ransome, and their studies of other poets always are composed with a writer's eye to technique. Next, this form of criticism was concerned with the literary object in itself, and focused closely on the text, examining formal structures such as prosody, symbolism, allusion, and figures of speech, which had been neglected by historical philologists. Finally, it was pedagogically innovative, allowing a method (close reading) by which it is possible to teach poetry to an increasingly mediocritized United States university system, which, with the Morrill Land Grant act followed by the G.I. Bill, admitted students who lacked the historical and linguistic background to do more historically oriented forms of criticism.
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