Criticism in the USA: The Institutionalization of Shakespeare in the USA
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This chapter considers critical Shakespearean innovations in the USA between the World Wars. After looking at the birth of the Folger and the Furness Shakespeare libraries, the chapter turns to other Interwar developments, most prominently the New Critics mobilizing at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, whose members included John Crowe Ransom, Donald Davidson, and Cleanth Brooks. I also show how their avowed isolationism in politics led to them to promote a closed artistic text in poetry, a theory of close reading that came to dominate literary studies in the USA (and to a degree in the UK) from its initial codification between the World Wars to its seeming demise in the early 1960s.