In a pugnacious essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Harvard University Press editor Lindsay Waters calls for literary critics in the academy to back out of the blind alley of interpretation and return to an emphasis on aesthetics:
[Stanley] Fish’s subsequent writings have gone in many directions, but he has never wavered in his inclination to resist the physical and aesthetic pleasures of the text and to prefer its doctrine. And he has never ceased to practice a method of allegorical interpretation that makes the text conform to interpreters’ ideas. The interpreters who have followed in his wake continue to shuck text of its form, reducing it to a proposition to be either affirmed or denied, the way a farmer shucks an ear of corn. When they’re done interpreting a poem, what is left of the poetry?
This kind of literary criticism has nothing to do with aesthetic responses to art, only with conscious acts of will. Nothing is to be left up to the senses, to the emotions. We have only to make a decision about the goodness or badness of the actions revealed in the work. Interpretation is the revenge of moralism upon art, and that is what makes it so politically dangerous: It narrows what literary critics do