Studies in Criticism and Aesthetics, 1660–1800 was first published in 1967. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
In this volume nineteen contributors, in as many essays, discuss various aspects of critical and aesthetic development in the late seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries, from the time of Dryden to Wordsworth. This was a period in which traditional literary criticism progressed in important new directions and which saw the rise of aesthetic theory. The book is published in honor of Samuel Holt Monk, professor of English at the University of Minnesota, and distinguished American scholar in the field of eighteenth century English literature, literary criticism, and aesthetics.
The essays, all of which were written for this volume, analyze the literary theories and assumptions of some of the most important artists and critics of the time, as well as the aesthetic theories which influenced painting and literature. During the period under discussion, the progress of social and philosophical thought stimulated an intensive examination of the nature and function of art. Although neoclassical ideals dominated Restoration criticism and continued to influence Pope and later critics like Johnson and Reynolds, other tendencies were gaining ground, and throughout the eighteenth century the effort to reconcile a growing interest in "the pleasing emotions" with the tenets of classicism created criticism and aesthetic theory of extraordinary complexity. These essays illuminate that complexity without oversimplifying it.
The book is illustrated with reproductions of works of art of the period. In addition to the essays, there is a bibliography of Professor Monk's writings.