Article Title

Methods in Drama Criticism


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Richard Levin's New Readings vs. Old Plays: Recent Trends in the Reinterpretation of English Drama (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1979), parts of which have appeared previously in journals, challenges three major approaches in drama criticism: the thematic, the ironic, and the historical. While acknowledging that these have been dominant in recent decades, Professor Levin regards them as intrinsically invalid and generative of "most of the misreadings we encounter." He therefore attacks with what the book's dustjacket calls "exemplary thoroughness and devastating effect." Whether his analyses are in fact thorough and devastating will be the subject of my comments. That they are being accepted as valid in some quarters is evident in a recent Harper's article (October 1979) entitled "Degenerate Criticism: The Dismal State of English Studies," by Peter Shaw, Levin's colleague at Stony Brook. But I am unpersuaded by characterizations which rest on a wholesale denigrating.

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