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  • Art for artีšs sake
  • Only text
  • Form is important
  • Type of formalist criticism
  • 1940s and 1950s
  • Derives its name from the book The New Criticism by John Crowe Ransom
  • Rejects historical and biographical study
  • Text - object of formal study
  • Methodology of Close Reading


  • The foundation of New Criticism was laid in the books and essays mainly in
    • I. A. Richards โ€“ Practical Criticism
    • William Empson โ€“ Seven types of ambiguity
    • T. S Eliot โ€“ The Function of Criticism
  • It differed from other forms of criticism as it dismissed authorial intent and ignored biographical and historical information about an author
  • It interpreted the literature on the basis of cohesiveness of the work

Key Terms

  • Intentional fallacy
  • Affective fallacy
  • Heresy of Paraphrase

Intentional Fallacy

  • The term was introduced by Wimsatt and Beardsley in their essay The Intentional Fallacy
  • It is the confusion between the poem and its origin
  • Judging a work of art based on authorีšs intention

Affective Fallacy

  • It is the confusion between the poem and its results
  • This term refers to the error in literary criticism of judging a work on the basis of its effect on the reader (emotional effect on the reader)
  • What it is and What it does

Heresy of Paraphrase

  • Term introduced by Cleanth Brooks in his book The Well-Wrought Urn.
  • The Heresy of Paraphrase occurs when a critic or reader interprets a text to mean something other than exactly what it says.
  • Cleanth Brooks also argued that any attempt to transform poetic meaning to a prose statement such as descriptive or thematic interpretation is an injustice to a poem

Key Texts

  • William Empson- Seven types of Ambiguity
  • Cleanth Brooks and Robert Warrens โ€“ Understanding poetry
  • Cleanth Brooks- The Well-Wrought Urn
  • Wimsatt and Beardsley- The Verbal Icon


1. New Criticism focuses on โ€ฆ

A) Historical background

B) Author background

C) Close Reading of text

D) Defamiliarisation

Answer: C

2. Odd one out

A) Seven types of Ambiguity

B) The Well-Wrought Urn

C) The Second Sex

D) The Verbal Icon

Answer: C

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