Close Reading

The Reader

Close Reading

Book Pages: 408 Illustrations: 1 figure Published: December 2002

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory

An anthology of exemplary readings by some of the twentieth century’s foremost literary critics, Close Reading presents a wide range of responses to the question at the heart of literary criticism: how best to read a text to understand its meaning. The lively introduction and the selected essays provide an overview of close reading from New Criticism through poststructuralism, including works of feminist criticism, postcolonial theory, queer theory, new historicism, and more.

From a 1938 essay by John Crowe Ransom through the work of contemporary scholars, Close Reading highlights the interplay between critics—the ways they respond to and are influenced by others’ works. To facilitate comparisons of methodology, the collection includes discussions of the same primary texts by scholars using different critical approaches. The essays focus on Hamlet, “Lycidas,” “The Rape of the Lock,” Ulysses, Invisible Man, Beloved, Jane Austen, John Keats, and Wallace Stevens and reveal not only what the contributors are reading, but also how they are reading.

Frank Lentricchia and Andrew DuBois’s collection is an essential tool for teaching the history and practice of close reading.

Contributors. Houston A. Baker Jr., Roland Barthes, Homi Bhabha, R. P. Blackmur, Cleanth Brooks, Kenneth Burke, Paul de Man, Andrew DuBois, Stanley Fish, Catherine Gallagher, Sandra Gilbert, Stephen Greenblatt, Susan Gubar, Fredric Jameson, Murray Krieger, Frank Lentricchia, Franco Moretti, John Crowe Ransom, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Helen Vendler


"[A] convenient, one-volume collection of seminal 20th century essays of speculative thought on and criticism of literature. . . . [T]his anthology offers the reader a fresh opportunity to reconsider the relative strengths, weaknesses, and commonalities of what Burke himself called 'extrinsic' and 'intrinsic' critical approaches. Recommended." — S. E. Gregg , Choice

"This book is like no other. . . . It provides a multifaceted and dialogic textual interplay of voices that create for its readers rich opportunities for both scholarship and teaching. . . . Close Reading 'testifies' to the ways expert readers make meaning by paying close attention to the nuances of symbol and language, ideology and structure that make up the muscles and bones of literature. And isn't that what literature professors do, too?"
— Christine Chaney , Pedagogy

Close Reading is an extremely valuable instrument of literary pedagogy. It recalls its readers to the ethical responsibilities as well as the aesthetic pleasures which are inextricably intertwined within their individual acts of reading.” — Donald E. Pease, Dartmouth College

”A history, a tool for teaching, a work of learned analysis, this book mediates importantly for a divided discipline, between ’formalists’ and those who do ’cultural studies.’ ’Close reading,’ it shows, necessarily connects all serious criticism, and its argument becomes the basis for a strong pedagogy and for disciplinary rethinking.” — George Levine, Rutgers University

”Debating close reading means doing it. By displaying the inheritance of the greatest New Critics in many of today's greatest critics, this new anthology revives, renews, and advances the cause of literary studies. Andrew DuBois’s long introduction close-reads the close readers with brilliant fidelity, insight, and wit.” — Marshall Brown, University of Washington

”This is an important anthology that challenges the assumption of a radical break between formalism and the criticism that followed it. Andrew DuBois’s fine introductory essay usefully fills out the history of the New Criticism, while forcing a reconsideration of some currently widespread theoretical assumptions. The thoughtfully chosen essays anthologized in Close Reading persuasively demonstrate the continuities between formalist and post-formalist criticism and, at the same time, show students the value of close and critical reading.” — Suzy Anger, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

”This scintillating book shows that the alleged death of close reading at the hands of theory and the turn away from literary works themselves have been greatly exaggerated.” — Gerald Graff, University of Illinois, Chicago


Availability: In stock
Price: $31.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Frank Lentricchia is Katherine Everett Gilbert Professor of Literature at Duke University and author of numerous books including After the New Criticism, Ariel and the Police, and Modernist Quartet. His novel Lucchesi and The Whale and his collection Introducing Don DeLillo are published by Duke University Press. Andrew DuBois is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English and American Language and Literature at Harvard University.

Andrew DuBois is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English and American Language and Literature at Harvard University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface ix

Introduction / Andrew DuBois 1

I. Formalism (Plus)

Poetry: A Note on Ontology / John Crowe Ransom 43

Keats’s Sylvan Historian: History Without Footnotes / Cleanth Brooks 61

Symbolic Action in a Poem by Keats / Kenneth Burke 72

The Ekphrastic Principle and the Still Movement of Poetry; or Laokoon Revisited / Murray Krieger 88

Examples of Wallace Stevens / R. P. Blackmur 111

How to Do Things with Wallace Stevens / Frank Lentricchia 136

Stevens and Keats’s “To Autumn” / Helen Vendler 156

“Lycidas”: A Poem Finally Anonymous / Stanley Fish 175

After Formalism?

Literary History and Literary Modernity / Paul de Man 197

Acts of Cultural Criticism / Roland Barthes 216

Nostalgia for the Present / Fredric Jameson 226

The Mousetrap / Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt 243

Jane Austen’s Cover Story (And Its Secret Agents) / Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar 272

Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl / Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick 301

Ulysses and the Twentieth Century / Franco Maretti 321

To Move Without Moving: An Analysis of Creativity and Commerce in Ralph Ellison’s Trueblood Episode / Houston A. Baker Jr. 337

The World and the Home / Homi K. Bhabhi 366

Contributors 381

Acknowledgment of Copyrights 385

Index 387
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3039-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3026-4
Publicity material