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Chicago Critics

with, about, Critics and Criticism

criticism ‘thinks school crane

a group of critics and scholars at the University of Chicago who pursued what they thought of as an authentic Formalism, a return to Aristotle and the formal principles of art. Their leading spokesman was R. S. Crane (18861967), who saw criticism not as a discipline but as an assembly of ‘frameworks’ or ‘languages’ for approaching literature. The urgent questions to be asked concerned what one ‘thinks with’ rather than ‘thinks about’. There are resemblances between the Chicago critics and the Russian Formalists, but the Chicago School was more purist, and would have thought Shklovsky's conception of an art that helps us recover the ‘sensation of life’ was sentimental, mere moralizing criticism in a new disguise. The work of this school is perhaps best exemplified in Critics and Criticism (1952), a collection of essays edited by Crane.

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