Can the criticism of literature and culture ever be completely professionalized? Does criticism retain an amateur impulse even after it evolves into a highly specialized discipline enshrined in the university?
The Critic as Amateur brings leading and emerging scholars together to explore the role of amateurism in literary studies. While untrained reading has always been central to arenas beyond the academy – book clubs, libraries, used bookstores – its role in the making of professional criticism is often disavowed or dismissed. This volume, the first on the critic as amateur, restores the links between expertise, autodidactic learning and hobbyist pleasure by weaving literary criticism in and out of the university.
Our contributors take criticism to the airwaves, through the culture of early cinema, the small press, the undergraduate classroom and extracurricular writing groups. Canonical critics are considered alongside feminist publishers and queer intellectuals. The Critic as Amateur is a vital book for readers invested in the disciplinary history of literary studies and the public role of the humanities. It is also a crucial resource for anyone interested in how literary criticism becomes a richly diverse yet shared discourse in the 20th and 21st centuries.