for consumer fraud by attorney AllanrnFavish, who misled applicants into believingrnthat the university system did notrndiscriminate on the basis of race.rnAs the affirmative action debate heatsrnup in the coming months, it is likely thatrnthe admission practices of many morernschools will be made public. In the wakernof the disturbing facts revealed in Hopwood,rnis it any wonder why academics,rnthe most vehement defenders of affirmativernaction, fight tooth and nail tornkeep admissions data from the public?rnDaniel j . Flynn is a program officer atrnYoung American Foundation.rnLITERATURErnNew Criticism,rnOld Valuesrnbv William PrattrnIt was in 1942 that John Crowe Ransomrncoined the phrase “The NewrnCriticism” by publishing a book underrnthat title, a book about the most respectedrnliterary critics of the first half ofrnthe century, notably T.S. Eliot, LA.rnRichards, William Empson, Yor Winters,rnand R.P. Blackmur. But actually,rnhe was criticizing the critics and askingrnfor something better; “Wanted: AnrnOntological Critic,” he declared in hisrnlast chapter, as if no critic includingrnhimself—and he was one of the greatrncritics—could really satisfy the need tornproduce a thoroughgoing critique of literature.rnhi the succeeding decade, Ransom’srntitle became the creed of a criticalrnschool, which sought to treat literaryrnworks as works of art, not as historical orrnsociological treatises nor as disguised autobiographies,rnand the term “New Criticism”rnbecame fashionable in the academyrnand was inevitably abused by thosernwho wanted to seem better critics thanrnthey really were. The result was that thern”New Criticism” was no longer taken as arncall for profounder critics of literature, asrnRansom meant it to be (and it should bernremembered that Ransom was not onlyrnthe originator but the first critic of thernNew Criticism); it was taken instead as arncall for narrower critics who sought onlyrnto look at the work itself, disregardingrnthe author and his age. But for a time,rnat least, chieflv through the textbooksrnof Robert Penn Warren and CleanthrnBrooks, Understanding Poetry and UnderstandingrnFiction, the teaching of literaturernin American universities was directedrntoward art rather than history orrnbiography, and the effect was salutary onrna generation of college students (as 1rnought to know, because I was amongrnthem), who learned to read poetry andrnfiction for their intrinsic value as finernarts, rather than for their extrinsic valuernas histor) or biography, the prealent approachesrnto literature before the NewrnCritics came into force.rnI’nfortunatelv, the new quickly becomesrnthe old, and so the “New Criticism”rnwas increasingly attacked even as itrnbecame more fashionable in the academy,rnuntil, within a couple of decades, itrnhad become a scapegoat for all the unenlightenedrncriticism which tends to dominaternany period of literarv history. Inrnshort, “new” criticism was soon taken tornbe old hat, and another school arose tornchallenge it; the now dominant school ofrnLiterarv Theorv, which goes bv otherrnfashionable names such as poststructuralism,rndcconstruetion, feminism,rnFreudianism, and Marxism. The troublernis that the new “new criticism” is worsernthan the old “new criticism,” which forrnall its faults did uphold the value of literaturernas literature, that is, as belonging tornthe arts rather than the sciences.rnWhat is now fashionable is not rcalK’rncriticism at all, but a variety of social sciencernwhich pretends to be philosophv,rnand takes a subversive approach to literature,rnsubordinating the work to the criticrn—or would-be critic, since none reallvrndeserve the name—who feels free to usernliterature to serve a social or politicalrncause. The assumption of all literaryrntheorists is that they are superior to theirrnsubject, which is literature, and canrndemolish the values on which it rests,rnnamely, artistic judgment and religiousrnfaith, in order to put forward a “higher”rnset of values, such as social egalitarianismrnand religious skepticism, or what on today’srncollege campus passes for “politicalrncorrectness.”rnThe pernicious effect of Literary Theoryrnis much worse than any perniciousrneffect attributable to New Criticism,rnsince it undermines the very teaching ofrnliterature, long the bedrock of the humanitiesrnor liberal arts. It thereb attacksrnhumane values in general, including thernvalue of academic freedom, the lifebloodrnof a university. As Literarv Theory hasrnreplaced New Criticism, intolerance hasrnreplaced broad-mindedness, indoctrinationrnhas replaced intellectual dialogue,rnracial and sexual favoritism has replacedrnmerit, and, in general, amoralitv has replacedrnmoralit—for example, b’ what isrnpolitely termed the “sexual revolution.”rnThe old values have suffered badlv, atrnthe hands of those who would attackrnthem in the name of xarious politicalrnand social causes, and suddenlv “graderninflation” has become rampant everywherernin our schools, meaning that evenrngrading standards—any kind of gradingrnstandards—are denounced as “elitist.”rnObvioush’, the time has come to demolishrnLiterary Theory as it once succeededrnin demolishing New Criticism.rnBut how? And to what end? Can old alucsrnbeget an even newer criticism, orrnmust we deride all schools of criticism—rnas the editor of this respectable magazinernrecently did—rather than restoringrnliterature to its rightful place of honor asrnthe foremost of the liberal arts?rnLet us grant that the New Criticismrnwas never what Ransom hoped it wouldrnbe, genuinelv “ontological,” that is, a trulyrnphilosophical reading of literature inrnthe manner of Aristotle, the first greatrncritic. Another Aristotle would have tornappear for that to happen. But let usrnalso acknowledge that New Criticismrnserved in its time to redirect the attentionrnof readers to the work itself; let usrnnot slight its good effect in decrying itsrnbad effects. On the other hand, let us bernblunt about what replaced it; in morernthan 20 years of dominance, LiteraryrnTheorv has so far failed to produce anrngood effects at all, and it has had deleteriousrneffects aplenty. Yet it continuesrnto be popular in humanities departmentsrn—language and literature, philosoph’rnand religion—to the detriment ofrnits own subjects and the threat to all subjects,rneven the scientific subjects whichrnshould be immune to subjective personalrnapproaches to knowledge. Attempts torndiscredit the Literarv’ Theorists have sornfar failed, but we should not lose heart,rnfor bad ideas eventually fail from theirrnown weaknesses, and good ideas ultimatelyrnarise again from good values.rnThe question is, how do we restorernthose good values, and reconstitute literaryrncriticism so that it becomes worthyrn44/CHRONICLESrnrnrn