• A woman stands to her side extending both arms horizontally in a room lined with picture frames. She is standing in front of a shopping cart filled with trash bags.
  • Writing Dancing and the Stance

    by ‘Funmi Adewole Elliott Over the years I have carried out several research projects as a practitioner, at times with […]

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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?

Normal People and the strangeness of other people

Towards the end of Sally Rooney’s acclaimed novel Normal People, the two main characters, Connell and Marianne, talk sleepily one morning about whether it’s possible ever really to know another person. ‘I guess everyone is a mystery in a way’,…