“NATURALIST” criticism, NOT “cognitive,” NOT “Darwinian” – A Quasi-Manifesto

11 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2024

Date Written: February 28, 2024


This was originally published in The Valve, now defunct, on March 31, 2010. It is an informal manifesto in a quasi-conversational style – pseudo-Socratic? – for my work in literary criticism. Acknowledging that literary criticism has long become a game in which one must have a label for one’s approach, I chose the term “naturalist.” After acknowledging that the term is problematic in a humanities context. I go on to explain why I’ve chosen it to designate my work and, in particular, to differentiate it from “cognitive” criticism and “literary Darwinism,” with which it has superficial affinities.

I could link a lot more into this piece now, but I won't. It's a decent indicator of the directions I’ve been pursuing.

Keywords: literary criticism, cognitive criticism, Darwinian literary criticism

Suggested Citation

Benzon, William L., “NATURALIST” criticism, NOT “cognitive,” NOT “Darwinian” – A Quasi-Manifesto (February 28, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4742022 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4742022

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