Prospects: The Limits of Discursive Thinking and the Future of Literary Criticism

73 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2015 Last revised: 6 Nov 2015

Date Written: November 2015

Abstract

After considering future prospects for literary criticism in terms of conceptual possibilities, and preferred intellectual style, this picture emerges: 1. Ethical criticism is the only criticism we can do that is entirely prose-centric. 2. Naturalist criticism requires considerable intellectual investment outside of literary study and is quite limited if one insists on prose-centric thinking. 3. Description has relatively few extra-literary prerequisites, but requires tables or diagrams. It is not consonant with a prose-centric orientation. 4. Computational criticism is giving us new phenomena to examine, but it is not prose-centric. From this we may conclude that discursivity, prose-centric thinking, is the primary obstacle preventing further development of literary criticism. It stands in the way of computational criticism and description, neither of which is fundamentally discursive, and constrains the development of naturalist criticism.

Keywords: literary criticism, method, digital humanities, academia, cognitive poetics, evocriticism, literary Darwinism, description

Suggested Citation

Benzon, William L., Prospects: The Limits of Discursive Thinking and the Future of Literary Criticism (November 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2678293 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2678293

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