Literary Studies

What Is the Point of Literary Criticism?

Anglophone literary criticism has over the last decade engaged in a searching analysis and critique of its own methods. Perhaps surprisingly, much of that debate has considered *how* one should engage in literary interpretation—whether one should read closely or from a distance, interpret in a paranoid or reparative way, emphasize the work’s surface or depth, engage in “critique” or some other mode of attachment—and rather less *why*. But we might benefit from asking that question more openly: what, after all, is the point of literary criticism? Why does this practice merit the sustained intellectual energy so many scholars have devoted to it?