The ideas and theorists surveyed here offer only a thumbnail sketch of the long history of literary criticism and theory. If the problem of representation has been prominent, this is because it is an issue of considerable aesthetic, political and philosophical importance.
Literary criticism will likely persist as a critical activity for as long as books are written, or works produced, that some choose to regard as “literature”. In the 21st century, the interrelationship between “digital” and “material” culture, and the effect of this relationship on reading practices, is becoming an important question for literary critics to consider.
What is the future of the book? And what is the future of reading?
Such questions are intimately bound up with the future of the planet.
The final words go to Shelley, who reminds us that act of writing and reading literature and poetry contributes to:
That great poem, which all poets, like the co-operating thoughts of one great mind, have built up since the beginning of the world.