The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018
Practical criticism (applied criticism)
Practical criticism (applied criticism): A type of literary criticism that emphasizes and responds to the characteristics of specific texts. Practical criticism differs from theoretical criticism, which emphasizes the formulation of general principles applicable to all texts rather than the explication of individual works. Practical critics often apply aesthetic principles that theoretical critics have simply postulated. But rather than elaborating on the theoretical assumptions underlying their analyses, practical critics concentrate on performing a close reading of the text in discussing the work and its author. The term practical criticism was first employed by romantic poet and critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his Biographia Literaria (1817) but was given broad usage by English critic I. A. Richards’s Practical Criticism: A Study of Literary Judgment (1929).
Some critics distinguish between two types of practical criticism: (1) impressionistic criticism, which is based on the critic’s subjective impressions of and reaction to a work; and (2) judicial criticism, which aims to assess literary works in accordance with a set of objective principles and rules.