LitCrit nerds rejoice

Well, about half of LitCrit nerds, anyway. James Wood lays out the stakes of literary criticism.

This writerly critical tradition continues to flourish, both in and outside the academy. Of course, nowadays even nonacademic literary criticism (I mean criticism written for a general audience) has been shaped and influenced by formal literary study. Many writers have studied literature at university, academics and writers teach together, attend conferences and festivals together, and sometimes almost speak the same language (think of Coetzee’s fiction and academic post-colonialist discourse, Don DeLillo’s fiction and academic postmodern critique, Toni Morrison’s fiction and academic critiques of race). The rise and steady institutionalisation of academic literary criticism means that the long tradition of literary criticism is now really two traditions, the academic (Stakes¹) and the literary-journalistic (Stakes²), which sometimes flow into each other but more often away from each other. Too often, Stakes¹ imagines itself in competition with, disdainful of, or simply inhabiting a different realm from Stakes², and vice versa.

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