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Wayne C. Booth (1921–2005)

Author of The Craft of Research

Includes the names: Wayne Booth, Wayne Booth, Wayne C. Booth, Wayne C. Booth, Wayne et al. Booth

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A graduate student at the University of Chicago in the late 1940s, when the English Department was dominated by members of the Chicago School of criticism, Wayne Booth returned to his alma mater in the early 1960s and became an exponent of its critical methodology. The Chicago Critics were influenced by the formalistic, rhetorical analysis of the Poetics of Aristotle, which was concerned with the principles of literary construction and literary esthetics. Unlike the New Critics, who shared their interest in formalist analysis of texts, the Chicago Critics emphasized the importance of knowledge about the author and his or her historical context. They considered the New Criticism, which had developed at about the same time, too restrictive in its bracketing of that information as external to the text and therefore incidental to understanding and evaluating it. The first generation of Chicago School critics, who were Booth's teachers, did not have much impact beyond the university itself. Booth, however, continued to advocate pluralism. Critical Understanding: The Powers and Limits of Pluralism Critical Understanding: (1979) helped revitalize and popularize Chicago School principles. Booth is associated with two other movements in contemporary literary theory: reader-response criticism and narratology. The former includes a heterogeneous group of reader-oriented rather than text-oriented methodologies. The latter is usually seen as a type of structuralist or proto-structuralist literary study, since it focuses on the function and the grammar, or structure, of narrative. Linked with both is Booth's Rhetoric of Fiction (1962), which concentrates on the analysis of point of view and how writers manipulate it so that readers accept the values of the implied author of a text's narration. Booth's work has increasingly emphasized reading, ethics, and the rhetoric of persuasion-a concern already implicit in this early book. (Bowker Author Biography)
— biography from The Craft of Research
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