Volume 19, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1384-5829
  • E-ISSN: 2352-118X



The interrelation of public and academic literary criticism often leads to controversy within the literary field, especially when writers obtain an academic position. As Jo Tollebeek showed in (2011) and Nico Laan in (1996), the competition between the academic and public discourse on literature is inherent to the history of literary studies. What are the criteria for distinguishing public and academic criticism?

This question is examined for the period 1925-1935 by taking the professorship of the poet and critic Albert Verwey (1865-1937) as a case study. Verwey legitimated his academic position by referring to Shelley and the concept of ‘imagination’ as a special source of knowledge. By doing so he presented an artistic and philosophical argument for appointing a poet as a professor of literature. Additionally, ten years later, Verwey revealed that he accepted the position in order to change the way literature was represented by traditional historiography. How did the activities of the poet, critic and academic relate to each other? How did Verwey position himself within, or in between, the academic and the public discourse on literature? And why does Verweys positioning problematize the relation between academic and non-academic literary criticism?


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