Richards, I. A.
Ivor Armstrong Richards (1893 – 1979) was a Cambridge professor whose theoretical work helped shape English studies in the twentieth century, and whose influence can still be felt in the fundamentals by which high school and college students are taught to read literature. This legacy was built on Richards's prolific publications from the 1920s and ‘30s. Two books in particular, Principles of Literary Criticism ( 1925 ) and Practical Criticism ( 1929 ), pioneered a conceptual framework for detailed analysis of both language and language form, enabling equally attentive discussion of the reading experience. The former is a variety of close reading that has affinities with critical methods in the new criticism. His influence may also be traced in teachers’ ubiquitous use of concepts like the tenor and vehicle of metaphor, the distinction between a poem's speaker and author, or the idea that a poem's meter can “cooperate” in the production of meaning. At the same time, the formal system for literary study that Richards designed, much of it drawn from other disciplines like psychology, contributed to the general trend in English studies to emulate research methods and techniques found in the natural and social sciences. The importance of Richards's own teaching in this effort cannot be overemphasized; much of his published work presents the finely tuned results of theoretical and ... log in or subscribe to read full text
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