Daniel R. Schwarz - Contributions - Theory

Theory

Schwarz is a humanist and a pluralist; his literary criticism takes account of the theoretical revolution while avoiding the abstractions of much modern critical theory in favor of a consideration of both context and text. What he calls his "mantra" summarizes his efforts to balance formalism and historical criticism: "Always the text; always historicize." Historical criticism, for Schwarz, may include a psychoanalytic emphasis which takes into account the author's quest for meaning within a text. He explains his perspective in The Case for a Humanistic Poetics: "Since humanistic criticism assumes that texts are by human authors for human readers about human subjects, a humanistic criticism is interested in how and why people think, write, act, and ultimately live." Schwarz has called his approach "humanistic formalism." He focuses on the process of reading, specifically how the reader responds to the structure of effects created by the author and how readers learn from literary texts. (See, for example, his 2008 Wiley-Blackwell Manifesto, In Defense of Reading)

In the 1980s and 1990s Schwarz was an important figure in the theoretical debates, arguing in The Humanistic Hertitage: Critical Theories of the English Novel from James to Hillis Miller (1986) that there was an important methodological and theoretical approach underpinning Anglo-American modern criticism and providing close readings of major critics to prove this point. In his The Case for a Humanistic Poetics (1989), he carefully defined his own approach.

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Famous quotes containing the word theory:

    The weakness of the man who, when his theory works out into a flagrant contradiction of the facts, concludes “So much the worse for the facts: let them be altered,” instead of “So much the worse for my theory.”
    George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)

    Osteopath—One who argues that all human ills are caused by the pressure of hard bone upon soft tissue. The proof of his theory is to be found in the heads of those who believe it.
    —H.L. (Henry Lewis)

    Psychotherapy—The theory that the patient will probably get well anyway, and is certainly a damned ijjit.
    —H.L. (Henry Lewis)