Why is criticism in crisis? literary criticism 

Expert Answers
wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There was a time when literary criticism drew a path of influence from one author to the next, showing influences, relationship between periods, etc.  This was called "traditional" criticism, and provided a basis for studying literature's progress through time.  Then "new criticism" concentrated on figurative language, irony, and language nuances. Next, the "Chicago school" put value on structural forms, genres, etc, a throwback to Aristotle.  Today, the word "criticism" is less accurate than "stylistics", and innovations of modernist authors acttually step outside linear progress; social criticism, such as feminism, or reader-response criticism, are all under attack by such scholars as Stanley Fish, and authorial intent is adumbrated by the hidden rhetorical messages inside the author's social assumptions.  So, the contemporary literary critic may see criticism, as a discipline, "in crisis" because its center (in Yeats' metaphor) cannot hold.