The Articles and Books of New Criticism's "Bible" (1937-1967)

        Knowing when major touchstone publications came out can help you guess in advance what kind of critical method is being used in articles you are reading while researching papers.  Freudian criticism takes off after

1922  I. A. (Ivor Allen) Richards, with C.K. Ogden and James Wood, The Foundations of Aesthetics (London: Allen and Unwin; 701 O34 1925 ) a comprehensive attempt to explain the human aesthetic response as a psychological struggle for balance among conflicting sensory demands or thoughts, later reborn in NC's "tensions" created by conflicting aesthetic elements in the work (characters, ideas, repeated events, etc.).

1924, 1929  I. A. Richards, The Principles of Literary Criticism (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner;  801 R51 1961 ) and Practical Criticism (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner; 808.1 R51p 1956 ) a program of "close reading" of the text to make interpretation more accurate and to enable reliable aesthetic conclusions to be reached by a variety of readers following the same reading rules.

1930 (rpt. 1956)  William Empson, Seven Types of Ambiguity (821.9 E55) a bravura attempt by a non-academic to establish a taxonomy or thorough list of all existing types of ambiguous usage, illustrated by copious quotation from the canon but without any extended demonstration of a full NC interpretation arising from any one of them.

1937  John Crowe Ransom (1888-1974), Criticism, Inc. (A theoretical call for greater rigor in the study of literature and its teaching: "Criticism must become more scientific, or precise and systematic.")

1938  Cleanth Brooks & Robert Penn Warren, Understanding Poetry  (821.8 B872 1961: Ransom's students from Kenyon College articulate a practical set of rules for reading and responding to poems.)

1941  John Crowe Ransom (1888-1974), The New Criticism ( 801 R21: Ransom looked back at four critics he admired--I.A. Richards, William Empson, T.S. Eliot, and Yvor Winters--but concluded that the "new criticism" did not yet exist and called for an "ontological critic" who would pay more attention to the methods of knowing and the logical validity of interpretation.

1946  Wimsatt and Beardsley, "The Intentional Fallacy" (051.S51 [electronic resource] The Sewanee Review 54 [1946])

1947  Cleanth Brooks, A Well-Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry (821.9 B873 c.2)  a "greatest hits" essay collection demonstrating New Critical practices in individual studies of works by Shakespeare, Milton, Warburton, Gray, Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson, and Yates, as well as essays defining "The Language of Paradox" and "The Heresy of Paraphrase." 

August 29, 1949  Soviet Union tests its first nuclear weapon, as good as year as any for the start of the Cold War

1949  Wimsatt and Beardsley, "The Affective Fallacy" (051.S51 [electronic resource] The Sewanee Review 57 [1949])

1954  Wimsatt, The Verbal Icon: Studies in the Meaning of Poetry (808.1 W757: collects "IF" and "AF") Wimsatt's theoretical "greatest hits, including "Intentional" and "Affective Fallacy," an attack on the Chicago neo-classical critics ("The Fallacy of the Neoclassic Species"), as well as "The Concrete Universal," "Poetry and Morals," "The Structure of Romantic Nature Imagery," "Symbol and Metaphor," and several essays on problems NC was still struggling with ("Explication as Criticism" [saying what the poem means vs. saying whether it's any good], "History and Criticism," and "Poetry and Christian Thinking").

1958  Van Cliburn wins the Moscow Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, overcoming a number of powerful Russian players, and even persuading Premier Nikita Khrushchev that he should be awarded the prize.  Art strikes a blow for American culture in the Cold War.

1960  E.D. Hirsch, "Objective Interpretation" (PMLA 75:4 (September 1960: 463-79; durable URL

1967  E.D. Hirsch, Validity in Interpretation  (801 H669v).  VI reprints "Objective Interpretation" and extends its argument. 

            Even as New Criticism entered its mature domination of Anglo-American literary interpretation, Roland Barthes, one of the first Post-Modernist critics, began publishing in French during this same period but his influence was limited in America until he was translated into English during the next decade: Sur Racine (1963); Essais Critiques (1964); Critque Et Vérité (1966); Système de la Mode (1967); Mythologies (1970); Critical Essays (English, 1972); Mythologies (1972); S/Z (English, 1974).   For other "Po-Mo" critiques of NC theory, see the late Marxists, Eagleton and Jameson (esp. 1992-98).