Literature and the Critics : Developing Responses to Texts book cover
1st Edition

Literature and the Critics
Developing Responses to Texts

ISBN 9780367650384
Published March 3, 2022 by Routledge
248 Pages

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Book Description

This timely volume presents a rich and absorbing selection of extracts from over two hundred leading literary critics of the last several decades, writing on many of the most widely studied literary texts in English, from Shakespeare to Toni Morrison.

Structured chronologically, working through familiar literary periods, this book presents illuminating and stimulating examples of critical readings of familiar texts, demonstrating a variety of methods and approaches to critical practice. The range of critical voices represented – from Abrams and Adelman to Zimmerman and Žižek – provides students with eloquent and insightful models of how to read, think and write about texts so that they can form their own critical responses and develop as independent readers. The book also shows how criticism has developed over time and how it has always been intimately involved in wider cultural, social and political debates. Connections between criticism, culture and politics are explored in the book’s wide-ranging first chapter.

In his warm, clear and engaging style, Richard Jacobs provides the perfect introduction to literature and criticism. Literature and the Critics is a book to which students will want to return throughout their courses as they read more widely and encounter new texts and critical voices.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Literature, criticism, culture, and why they matter

Chapter 2: Shakespeare

with Sean McEvoy

Chapter 3: Early modern literature 1590-1690

with Sean McEvoy

Chapter 4: Early romantic writings 1750-1800

Chapter 5: Later romantic writings 1790-1830

Chapter 6: Realist fiction in England and America 1840-1870

Chapter 7: Realism towards modernism: English and American fiction 1870-1900

Chapter 8: Modernisms: British, Irish and American literature 1890-1970

Chapter 9: Postmodernity and the contemporary novel 1970-2020

with Sam Cutting and Joel Roberts

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Richard Jacobs is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Brighton, School of Humanities, UK where he was subject leader for literature and Principal Lecturer for many years and where he received teaching excellence awards. His many publications include A Beginner’s Guide to Critical Reading: An Anthology of Literary Texts (2001) and Literature in Our Lives: Talking About Texts from Shakespeare to Philip Pullman (2020).


‘[I]n covering English literature from Shakespeare to postmodernism, it manages to make the subject sound both entertaining and important; the study of literature being a way of understanding the world and the mind—and also, by extension, as a kind of dissolving agent through which we can see the hypocrisies and motives of a malign state. And it is also hugely readable.’ - Nicholas Lezard, The New Statesman, 6th July 2022