0. Introduction

In this course we shall be dealing with a historical approach to literary theory and literary criticism. We shall call "literary theory" the discipline which studies in a formal way the characteristics of literary texts and other aspects of the literary phenomenon, in themselves or as they relate to other aspects of culture. Literary theory tries to formulate general laws and principles: it is not concerned with the consideration or evaluation of particular works of literature. Of course, a literary theory, whether explicit or implied, underlies any specific study or evaluation of a particular literary work. This study or evaluation of particular literary works is what we call criticism. Therefore, literary criticism presupposes literary theory. Very often, the two concepts are included in the term "criticism," but here we shall attempt to preserve this conceptual difference. The difference between literary theory and literary criticism is a conceptual one --in practice, it may be more or less clear-cut, and so we can speak of the literary theory of a critic who only wrote on particular works.