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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

‘Contemporary Poetry and Close Reading’ examines the history of the establishment of New Critical forms of close reading in the academy and argues that the de-historicizing apolitical bias that the poet-critics associated with New Criticism led by John Crowe Ransom wrote into close reading protocols seriously distorted the more radical forms of close interpretation developed by I. A. Richards, T. S. Eliot, and William Empson. The turn to theory consolidated a false association of close reading to the apolitical ‘narcissistic’ lyric. The essay goes on to argue that close reading is the only manner of responding to poetry, and need not imply a divorce of form and history.

Keywords: close reading, poetry, practical criticism, New Criticism, theory, lyric, history

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