Turhan Uludag002729ENG 371Dr. Rodney SharkeyPolitics of Non-Political CriticismWhat is “Literary Criticism”? According to one definition, it means “analysis, interpretation, and evaluationof works of literature in light of existing standards of taste, or with the purpose of creating new standards”.
Shouldliterary criticism only analyze literary works, or, can it expand into other areas of study—philosophy, science, politics, psychology, theology etc? In this essay, I will attempt to illustrate how literary criticism should not just dealwith literary works, but also political, sociological and cultural issues. I will also show the development of literarycriticism in the 20
century, and how it improved to be political.Historically, literary criticism has started with the works of Plato. Ever since Aristotle wrote about theworks of Plato, literary criticism has been the history of critical arguments. In the 20
century, by the establishmentof English literature departments, F.R Leavis dismissed “all literature except the small amount of genuinely realizedwork which represented the “great tradition”.
Leavis made an assumed distinction between good literature and probably bad literature.According to Leavis, every work of art must contain within itself vibrant language, must have a moral pointand also must connect to the organic community. A piece of literature that does not employ these characteristics,according to his taste, would be considered not a good literature. Obviously, Leavis’ biased notion of what is goodand bad literature is a subjective opinion of his own understanding of literature. First, because what is consideredmoral, vibrant piece will be seen differently by the eyes of another reader—it might be vibrant to me, but it may not be vibrant to someone who has read literature 30 years (which, of course, has a accumulated vocabulary).Furthermore, to give another example, Shakespeare’s work might be culturally vibrant now, but was anordinary language at the time he was writing. Leavis thought that literature had intentional vibrant language whereasthat was not the case; he looked literature in its moral sense. That is why the first criticism was called “moralcriticism”. Again, in moral criticism, authorial intention was present because critics sought to understand the moral point of the author—if there was any, of course. In moral criticism, critics looked at the conflict between good and