The Limits of Critique

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University of Chicago Press, 20 .. 2015 - 240 ˹
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Why must critics unmask and demystify literary works? Why do they believe that language is always withholding some truth, that the critics task is to reveal the unsaid or repressed? In this book, Rita Felski examines critique, the dominant form of interpretation in literary studies, and situates it as but one method among many, a method with strong allurebut also definite limits.

Felski argues that critique is a sensibility best captured by Paul Ricoeurs phrase the hermeneutics of suspicion. She shows how this suspicion toward texts forecloses many potential readings while providing no guarantee of rigorous or radical thought. Instead, she suggests, literary scholars should try what she calls postcritical reading: rather than looking behind a text for hidden causes and motives, literary scholars should place themselves in front of it and reflect on what it suggests and makes possible.

By bringing critique down to earth and exploring new modes of interpretation, The Limits of Critique offers a fresh approach to the relationship between artistic works and the social world.
 

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Introduction
1
1 The Stakes of Suspicion
14
2 Digging Down and Standing Back
52
3 An Inspector Calls
85
4 Crrritique
117
5 Context Stinks
151
In Short
186
Notes
195
Index
219
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Rita Felski is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English at the University of Virginia and the editor of New Literary History. She is the author of several books, including, most recently, Uses of Literature and Literature after Feminism, the latter also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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