The Paradoxical Politics of Literary Criticism

LITERARY CRITICISM: A CONCISE POLITICAL HISTORY By Joseph North Harvard University Press, 272 pp., $39.95

For all the debates that have roiled literature departments over the past 60 years, the history of the discipline itself is a source of surprising consensus. According to the standard narrative, mid-twentieth-century literary studies served a conservative agenda, fostering traditional values and upholding a canon of dead white men. The dominant school of interpretation was New...

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