Are practical criticism and new criticism the same? If not, then what is the difference between the two ?

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Practical Criticism was devised by a professor named I. A. Richards at Cambridge University in the 1920s. The term “New Criticism” was used in the United States to refer to essentially the same thing.

In this type of criticism, literary works, especially poetry, are read an analyzed without any information about the author, the date of the writing, the circumstances under which the work was written, etc. The work is supposed to be a considered as a standalone piece of literature. Students are suppossed to appreciate it for its art – its use of literary devices, its beauty, its impact, etc.

In the United States, Practical Criticism became New Criticism due to the use of this term by poet, professor and literary scholar and critic John Crowe Ransom. He wrote a book entitled New Criticism in which he adopted the ideas of the Practical Critics in England. This type of criticism was in vogue throughout the 1960s and even into the 1970s in the United States. As with the Practical Critics, the New Critics believed that works should be read closely but in isolation.

Today, these methods are not adhered to religiously, but are incorporated into other methods of criticism.

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