The recent neglect of Kames’s Elements of Criticism (1762) has been due in part to disciplinary angst which has fostered two incomplete views of Elements: (1) as a work that trains readers in receptive competence and (2) as significant for primarily philosophical reasons. Reading Elements as a rhetoric of criticism, however, suggests first that it is aimed toward production of criticism--not simply reception--although the critical argumentation is oriented toward judgment in terms of universals. Second, it suggests that its significance is practical--that it appeals to readers’ anxieties about the burgeoning British economy.
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