Geoffrey H. Hartman Gerald Graff - Essay

Gerald Graff

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Insofar as I could discern a thesis in this diffuse book [Criticism in the Wilderness: The Study of Literature Today], I took it to go something like this: Anglo-American literary studies have come to be dominated by a dull and demeaning ideal of "practical" criticism. For a number of reasons, critics have narrowed their aims…. [The] dry, utilitarian spirit of Locke has triumphed over the more daring, speculative spirit of Hegel, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. A prime expression of this practical bias of literary studies is the tendency to regard criticism as an austere science, holding itself pure of any imputation of literary character lest it compromise its objective authority. This bias has made Anglo-American...

(The entire section is 1473 words.)