The latest public discussion about the fate of literary criticism features The Literary Darwinists. With articles appearing in The Boston Globe, The Chronicle, The Nation and elsewhere, there’s a certain buzz. Literary Darwinists are reacting to the rather pitiful — and undisputed — state in which literary criticism finds itself. Particularly within the academy, literary studies is floundering as a discipline without a clear sense of how to move forward. A good deal of what’s written is such convoluted nonsense that reading it amounts to self punishment. The critic William Deresiewicz recently wrote an article in which he concluded: “The real story of academic literary criticism today is that the profession is, however slowly, dying.”

Enter the Literary Darwinists, ready to get serious. People who call themselves Darwinists can always, if nothing else, be counted on for their… More…