Chicago School of Critics Essay

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The Chicago School of Critics The Chicago School of literary criticism was a form of criticism of English literature begun at the University of Chicago in the 1930s, which lasted until the 1950s. It was also called Neo-Aristotelianism, due to its strong emphasis on Aristotle’s concepts of plot, character and genre. It was partly a reaction to New Criticism, a then highly popular form of literary criticism, which the Chicago critics accused of being too subjective and placing too much importance on irony and figurative language. They aimed instead for total objectivity, and a strong classical basis of evidence for criticism. The New Critics regarded the language and poetic diction as most important, but the Chicago School considered such things merely the building material of poetry. Like Aristotle, they valued the structure or form of a literary work as a whole, rather than the complexities of the language. Despite this, the Chicago school is considered by some to be a part of the New Criticism movement. The Chicago School of Critics began its development during the mid-1930s, around the time that Crane was named head of the University of Chicago’s English Department. During this time (from 1930 to 1952) Ronald Crane took on the role of managing editor for the University’s publication Modern Philology publication. His essay titled “History Versus Criticism in the Study of Literature,” published in 1935, is considered the first publication of the Chicago School. Other members of the early School included W. R. Keast, Richard McKeon, Norman Maclean, Elder Olson, and Bernard Weinberg. The “group of friends” (as Crane called them) worked together to publish an anthology of their writings in 1952 titled Critics and Criticism: Ancient and Modern. That same year, Crane was named a Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Chicago. The

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