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The value of literature: the disparity between 'Practical Criticism' and 'Modern Literary Theory' with a case study of Thomas Hardy

Ipsen, G.; (2009) The value of literature: the disparity between 'Practical Criticism' and 'Modern Literary Theory' with a case study of Thomas Hardy. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis is a critical study of the conceptual foundations of the work of a number of twentieth-century academic literary critics and theorists, with the aim of exploring the ground of some of the disputes between exponents of different approaches to literary analysis. It asks to what extent, and how, the fundamental assumptions and principles concerning the nature and value of literature and literary analysis vary between these analysts, and how these notions affect their analytical methods. To this end, it presents a close comparative reading of some of the more prominent British and American literary analysts of the past hundred years or so who have been associated with a variety of methodological camps, namely, T. S. Eliot, William Empson, F. R. Leavis, and I. A. Richards (‘Practical’, or ‘New’, Criticism); Homi K. Bhabha (postcolonialism); Terry Eagleton (Marxism); J. Hillis Miller (deconstruction); and Elaine Showalter (feminism). In the process, the thesis also investigates whether the old guard of Practical Criticism is as old-fashioned and unimportant as many of its successors have claimed it to be. The thesis is divided into three parts. The first two are concerned, roughly chronologically, with key critical writings by Richards, Leavis, Eliot, and Empson (Part I), and by Eagleton, Showalter, Bhabha, and Miller (Part II). Parts I and II are further divided into separate chapters, each of which focuses on one literary analyst at a time and dissects, individually and comparatively, the following three elements in their writings: their definition of the concept of literature, the value they place on both literature and the task of literary analysis, and their analytical practice. The final part of the thesis consists of a case-study of Thomas Hardy, which shows how the treatment of the work of a single author by these eight analysts, and any analyst, is deeply affected by the assumptions and principles concerning the nature and value of literature and literary analysis which drive their work.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:The value of literature: the disparity between 'Practical Criticism' and 'Modern Literary Theory' with a case study of Thomas Hardy
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of EU Langs, Culture and Society > Spanish and Latin American Studies

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