Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 3, 2020

Critique and its discontents

Robert T. Tally Jr.

Abstract

In her celebrated study The Limits of Critique (2015), Rita Felski asserts that literary criticism during the past 40 years or more has been beholden to “the hermeneutics of suspicion,” a paranoid approach to interpretation that seeks to uncover concealed or repressed meanings without due appreciation for the texts as it appears. Felski believes that “critique” is necessarily implicated in this suspicious reading, and she argues instead for a postcritical approach to literature that would eschew interpretation in favor of description, affect, and enjoyment. Felski’s argument draws upon related critiques of critique, including calls for “surface reading,” “reparative interpretation,” “thin description,” a “new formalism,” and “ordinary language.” In recent years, the advocacy for a postcritical approach and the critical resistance to that approach, and thus the affirmation of the value of critique itself, have formed one of the more animated debates within literary and cultural studies in the United States and elsewhere. At the same time, perhaps ironically, critique seems more necessary and desirable than ever in confronting contemporary reality in the U. S. In this presentation, Robert T. Tally Jr. will discuss current debates over postcritical approaches to literature, and he will argue for an empowered understanding and employment of critique suited both to literary studies and to the world we live in today.

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Published Online: 2020-07-03
Published in Print: 2020-07-01

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