History of Criticism List

History of Criticism List

Candidates are expected to select between six to ten titles from among each of the five sections below, for a total of forty-six texts. Depending on the nature of the student’s project, choices of selections from those works not specifying particular chapters or essays ought to be made in consultation with a faculty advisor.

 Classical and Medieval

Plato: Symposium; Ion, Republic; Phaedrus

Aristotle: Rhetoric; Poetics

Horace: Epistle to the Pisos (The Art of Poetry)

Longinus: On the Sublime

Quintilian: Institutio Oratoria

(Pseudo-) Cicero, Rhetorica ad Herennium

St. Augustine, On Christian Doctrine

Fulgentius, Mythographies

Peter Abelard, Prologue to Sic et Non

Robert of Basevorn, Forma Praedicandi

Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Poetria Nova

Hugh of St. Victor, Didascalicon (Prologue and Books V and VI)

"Literary Prefaces" in Medieval Literary Theory and Criticism, ed. Minnis and Scott

Dante, De Vulgaria Eloquentia

Dante (?), Epistle to Can Grande

Petrarch, Letters on Familiar Matters (selections in Minnis and Scott)

____. Coronation Oration, trans. E. H. Wilkins, Studies in the Life and Works of Petrarch.

Boccaccio, In Praise of Dante

____. Genealogy of the Gentile Gods (Books 14-15, trans. Osgood as “Boccaccio on Poetry”)

Vernacular prologues edited in The Idea of the Vernacular, ed. Wogan-Browne et al.

Chaucer, Prologue to Legend of Good Women

Prologue to the Wycliffite Bible

Christine de Pisan, from The Book of the City of Ladies


Renaissance/Early Modern

Desiderius Erasmus, De copia; The Book of Folly

William Tyndale, Biblical Prefaces

Julius Caesar Scaliger, from “Poetics”

Roger Ascham, The Schoolmaster

Lodovico Castelvetro, from The Poetics of Aristotle Translated and Explained

Pierre de Ronsard, “A Brief on the Art of French Poetry”

Sir Philip Sidney, “An Apology for Poetry”

Spenser, Letter to Raleigh

Torquato Tasso, Discourses on Heroic Poetry

Jacopo Mazzoni, from On the Defense of the Comedy of Dante

Sir Francis Bacon, from The Advancement of Learning

George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie (1589)

Thomas Heywood, Apology for Actors





John Dryden, “Essay on Dramatic Poesy”

Nicolas Boileau-Desperéaux, “The Art of Poetry”

John Dennis, from The Advancement and Reformation of Modern Poetry, chs. 4-6

Alexander Pope, “Essay on Criticism”
Joseph Addison, The Spectator, 62; 412

Jonathan Swift, “The Battle of the Books”

Giambattista Vico, from The New Science

Immanuel Kant, from Critique of Judgment

Edmund Burke, from Philosophical Inquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful (Introduction

and sections 7, 10 and 23)
David Hume, “Of the Standard of Taste,” “On Eloquence”

Samuel Johnson, “Preface to Shakeskpeare;” “Preface” to the Dictionary; Rambler essays

4, 8, 14, 196; Idler essays 3, 14, 23, 84, 103; Lives of the Poets (Milton, Savage)
Hugh Blair, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres
Adam Smith, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres
Gotthold Lessing, from Laocoon

Friedrich von Schiller, Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man
Rousseau, On the Origin of Language
Johan Gottfried Herder, Treatise on the Origin of Language (Part One)

Mary Wollstonecraft, from A Vindication of the Rights of Women
Richard Hurd, Letters on Chivalry and Romance

Clara Reeve, The Progress of Romance
Robert Lowth, “Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews”

Thomas Percy, Preface to “Reliques of Ancient English Poetry”




Germaine de Stael, “Essay on Fictions;” On Literature Considered in Its Relationship to

Social Institutions (“On Women Writers”)

William Wordsworth, “Preface to Lyrical Ballads” (1805 and 1815)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria
Walter Scott, 1829-30 Prefaces to Waverley and Ivanhoe; “Laurence Templeton's

Advertisement" to the 1820 edition of Ivanhoe

Thomas Love Peacock, “The Four Ages of Poetry”

William Hazlitt, “Spirit of the Age”

Mary Shelley, “Preface” to Frankenstein

Thomas Carlyle, “Signs of the Times,” “Characteristics,” “Symbols”

Edward Babington Macauley, “ Milton”

Percy Bysshe Shelley, “A Defense of Poetry”

Georg Wilhelm FriedrichHegel, from Phenomenology of Spirit; from Aesthetics

Friedrich Schleiermacher, from Hermeneutics

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Philosophy of Composition”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Poet,” “The American Scholar”
Charles Baudelaire, from “The Painter of Modern Life”
Arthur Henry Hallam, “On Some of the Characteristics of Modern Poetry, and on the

Lyrical Poems of Alfred Tennyson”

Walt Whitman, “Democratic Vistas”

Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto; The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte; from Capital

(vol. 1); On Literature and Art; from The German Ideology

Robert Browning, “Essay on Shelley”

Stéphane Mallarmé, “The Crisis of Poetry”

John Stuart Mill, Dissertations on Poetry (“What is Poetry?” “The Two Kinds of


Matthew Arnold, “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time;” “On Translating

Homer,” “On the Modern Element in Literature”

Algernon Charles Swinburne, William Blake

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Hand and Soul
John Ruskin, Modern Painters (vol 1); Stones of Venice; Sesame and Lilies
Walter Pater, from Studies in the History of the Renaissance; “Aesthetic Poetry”

Henry James, The Art of Fiction

Richard Wagner, Opera and Drama

Friedrich Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lying in a Non-Moral Sense”

Oscar Wilde, Intentions; “Preface” to The Picture of Dorian Gray; “ The Decay of

Lying,” “The Critic as Artist”

Violet Paget, Euphorion: Being Studies of the Antique and the Medieval in the


Arthur Symons, The Symbolist Movement in Literature

Leo Tolstoy, from What is Art?

William Butler Yeats, “The Autumn of the Body,” “The Symbolism of Poetry,”



20c (“canonical/classic” texts to circa 1960)


Sigmund Freud, from The Interpretation of Dreams;” “The Uncanny;” “Creative Writers

and Daydreaming”

Ferdinand de Saussure, from Course in General Linguistics

Coventry Patmore, “On English Metrical Law”

T. E. Hulme, “Romanticism and Classicism”

Georg Lukacs, “The Ideology of Modernism”

T. S. Eliot, “Tradition and the Individual Talent”

Carl Gustav Jung, “On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry”

W. E. B. Du Bois, “Criteria of Negro Art”

Ernst Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages

Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”

Mikhail Bakhtin, from Discourse in the Novel; from Dostoyevsky’s Poetics; or from The

Dialogic Imagination

Virginia Woolf, from A Room of One’s Own

I. A. Richards, from Practical Criticism (chs. 1 and 7)

Edmund Wilson, “Marxism and Literature”

Paul Valéry, “Poetry and Abstract Thought”

William Empson, Seven Types of Ambiguity
Jean-Paul Sartre, “Why Write?”

Cleanth Brooks , “The Well Wrought Urn;” “The Formalist Critics”

Kenneth Burke, “Semantic and Poetic Meaning;” “Literature as Equipment for Living;”

“Symbolic Action in a Poem by Keats;” “Definition of Man”

Roman Jakobson, Word and Language (selections)

Pierre Macherey, A Theory of Literary Production

Julia  Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language

Roland Barthes, S/Z or Image/Music/Text

Paul de  Man, Blindness and Insight

William K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley, “The Intentional Fallacy;” “The Affective


Northrop Frye, “The Archetypes of Literature”

Erich Auerbach, “Odysseus’ Scar”

Wayne Booth, from The Rhetoric of Fiction







Frederick Crews, Follies of the Wise (2006) 

M. A. R. Habib, A History of Literary Criticism from Plato to the Present (2005) 

Brian Vickers, English Renaissance Literary Criticism (2003) 

Galvano della Volpe, Critique of Taste (1991) 

Umberto Eco, The Limits of Interpretation (1990) 

Tzvetan Todorov, Genres in Discourse (1990) 

Chris Baldick, The Social Mission of English Criticism, 1848-1932 (1983) 

Lawrence J. Starzyk, The Imprisoned Splendour (1977) 

Tzvetan Todorov, The Poetics of Prose (1977) 

Rene Wellek, A History of Modern Criticism, 4 vols. (1968) 

Monroe Beardsley, Aesthetics from Classical Greece to the Present (1966) 

Alba H. Warren, English Poetic Theory, 1825-1865 (1966) 

Bernard Weinberg, A History of Literary Criticism in the Italian Renaissance (1961) 

Cleanth Brooks & William Wimsatt, Literary Criticism: A Brief History (1957) 

M. H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp (1953) 

Viktor Shklovsky, Theory of Prose (1925) 

**The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism vols. 1-7