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The Critical PulseThirty-Six Credos by Contemporary Critics$
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Jeffrey Williams and Heather Steffen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161152

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161152.001.0001

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Long Island Intellectual

Long Island Intellectual

(p.50) 6 Long Island Intellectual
The Critical Pulse

Jeffrey J. Williams

Columbia University Press

In this chapter, the author narrates his personal history and early literary aspirations, as well as the path he took from training in poststructural theory to his belief in the importance of socially responsible criticism. He sees criticism as more pragmatic than idealist, shedding a romantic image of imbibing and dispensing large, earth-changing ideas, and instead offering something more practical. Criticism should aim to reach people rather than reach the ineffable. He also believes that rather than a right that we exercise at whim, criticism confers an obligation to those with whom we live, in our time and place, and an obligation to the needs of that time. Otherwise criticism becomes a self-interested hobby. Criticism can do more than that: if history is what hurts, criticism is what tells us which parts of it hurt and why and what we should do about it.

Keywords:   critics, poststructural theory, literary criticism, social responsibility

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