From Southern Agrarianism to Criticism Inc.

  • Christopher Brookeman
Part of the The Contemporary United States book series


In 1953, the poet and critic Randall Jarrell announced that he was living in an ‘age of criticism’. In 1956, T. S. Eliot gave a reserved ticket only public lecture entitled The Frontier of Criticism in a sports arena at the University of Minnesota before an audience of 13,723. Under the bye line ‘What makes a newspaper great?’, the Minneapolis Star and Tribune gave the following account of the event:

T. S. Eliot probably is the only poet in history to face an audience of 13,723 in a cavernous sports arena.

The event: the third in the series of Gideon Seymour Memorial Lectures, presented by the University of Minnesota and sponsored by the Minneapolis Star and Tribune. The subject: a brilliant discourse on ‘The Frontier of Criticism’, which earned for the 67-year-old Nobel Prize winner an ovation remindful of those that rattle the same Williams Arena rafters during a Big Ten basketball game.1

This establishment of critical analysis and interpretation as a major activity in American intellectual life has been described by John Crowe Ransom as the advent of ‘Criticism, Inc., or Criticism, Ltd.’ This development was in part due to the needs of the massive extension of higher education in the USA after the Second World War.


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Selected Bibliography

  1. Elmer Borklund, Contemporary Literary Critics (London: St James Press, 1977).Google Scholar
  2. Cleanth Brooks, The Well Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry (London: Denis Dobson, 1968).Google Scholar
  3. William H. Chace, The Political Identities of Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1973).Google Scholar
  4. Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 1983).Google Scholar
  5. T. S. Eliot, After Strange Gods: A Primer of Modern Heresy (London: Faber & Faber, 1934)Google Scholar
  6. T. S. Eliot, Selected Essays (London: Faber & Faber, 1976).Google Scholar
  7. Lillian Feder, Ancient Myth in Modern Poetry (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971).Google Scholar
  8. John Fekete, The Critical Twilight: Explorations in the Ideology of Anglo-American Literary Theory from Eliot to Mcluhan (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).Google Scholar
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  10. Richard Gray, The Literature of Memory, Modern Writers of the American South (London: Edward Arnold, 1979).Google Scholar
  11. John Crowe Ransom, God Without Thunder: An Unorthodox Defence of Orthodoxy (London: Gerald Howe, 1931).Google Scholar
  12. John Crowe Ransom, The World’s Body (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1938).Google Scholar
  13. John Crowe Ransom, The New Criticism (Norfolk, Connecticut: New Directions, 1941).Google Scholar
  14. I. A. Richards, Practical Criticism: A Study of Literary Judgement (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1929).Google Scholar
  15. I. A. Richards, Poetries and Sciences — A Re-Issue of Science and Poetry with Commentary (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970).Google Scholar
  16. I. A. Richards, Principles of Literary Criticism (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Christopher Brookeman 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Brookeman

There are no affiliations available

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