Jonathan Kramnick, "Criticism and Truth: On Method in Literary Studies" (U Chicago Press, 2023)


Today’s guest is Jonathan Kramnick, the author of a new book, Criticism and Truth: On Method in Literary Studies (University of Chicago Press, 2023). Criticism and Truth offers a formal analysis of the particular practices and habits of academic literary criticism, within the context of the transformations brought on by the Great Recession of 2008 and the Covid-19 pandemic. In this book, Jonathan describes close reading as a “creative, immersive, and transformative writing practice that fosters a unique kind of engagement with the world.” The case for literary study is made not through an appeal to contemporary relevance or intellectual abstraction—but in the material specificity of how literary criticism is done. Though it may share its objects of study with linguistics or history, as a scholarly discipline, literary criticism gains insight from an intimacy with and even mimicry of its object of study.

Jonathan Kramnick is Professor of English at Yale University. Previously, he has published the monographs Paper Minds: Literature and the Ecology of Consciousness (U Chicago Press, 2018), Actions and Objects from Hobbes to Richardson (Stanford UP, 2010), and Making the English Canon: Print Capitalism and the Cultural Past, 1700-1770 (Cambridge UP, 1999).

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John Yargo

John Yargo is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities at Boston College. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His specializations are early modern literature, the environmental humanities, and critical race studies. His dissertation explores early modern representations of environmental catastrophe, including William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, and John Milton's Paradise Lost. He has published in Early Theatre, Studies in Philology, The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, and Shakespeare Studies.

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