A Critique by Technology of Literary History
This chapter, which examines the project of literary history as a technical practice that is part of the broader poetics of contemporary technē, looks at the difference between the technical ethos of past literary history and that of the so-called new literary history. It submits the literary historical practices of the past to a critique by technology—specifically, to critique from the anachronistic perspective of contemporary technology. The materials considered here include only the following works representing certain shared elements of literary-historical explication from the sixteenth century through modernity: Philip Sidney's Apology for Poetry, Thomas Gray's “The Progress of Poesy,” Percy Bysshe Shelley's Defense of Poetry, Hippolyte Taine's History of English Literature, T. S. Eliot's “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” Harold Bloom's Anxiety of Influence, and formalist literary history spanning from the Russian Formalist thesis of “systemic evolution.”
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