This lecture contends that literary criticism is fundamentally a creative practice. By examining granular critical skills like quotation and plot summary, it reveals criticism's artisanal dimension as a mode of dexterous linguistic craftsmanship. The lecture proposes that this artful knowing distinguishes disciplinary knowledge in the humanities from the sciences. It argues that assessing criticism requires an aesthetic judgment attuned to formal aptness and elegant shaping. Ultimately, the lecture seeks to elucidate criticism's imaginative making in order to uphold its epistemic authority and defend the humanities' integral role in interpreting the world.
Jonathan Kramnick, Maynard Mack Professor of English, Yale University
Professor Jonathan Kramnick is Maynard Mack Professor of English at Yale University and director of the Lewis Walpole Library. He writes regularly on the state of academia in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and is currently finishing a book on the epistemology of close reading. His most recent book, Paper Minds: Literature and the Ecology of Consciousness (Chicago, 2018), was shortlisted for the Christian Gauss Award from the Phi Beta Kappa Association.