The New Criticism (Or Not)

“Critics today, it is claimed, are too cozy behind the ivied walls of academe, content to employ a prose style that is decipherable only to a handful of the cognoscenti. The deadly dive of university critics into the shallow depths of popular culture, moreover, reveals the unwillingness of these critics to uphold standards. Even if the reasons offered are contradictory, these Jeremiahs huddle around their sad conclusion that serious cultural criticism has fallen into a morass of petty bickering and bloated reputations. Such narratives of declension, a staple of American intellectual life since the time of the Puritans, are misplaced, self-serving, and historically inaccurate. And difficult to prove. Has the level of criticism declined in the last 50 years?”