In literary criticism and cultural studies, postcritique is the attempt to find new forms of reading and interpretation that go beyond the methods of critique, critical theory, and ideological criticism. Such methods have been characterized as a "hermeneutics of suspicion" by Paul Ricœur and as a "paranoid" or suspicious style of reading by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Proponents of post-critique argue that the interpretive practices associated with these ways of reading are now unlikely to yield useful or even interesting results. As Rita Felski and Elizabeth S. Anker put it in the introduction to Critique and Postcritique, "the intellectual or political payoff of interrogating, demystifying, and defamiliarizing is no longer quite so self-evident."A postcritical reading of a literary text might instead emphasize emotion or affect, or describe various other phenomenological or aesthetic dimensions of the reader's experience. At other times, it might focus on issues of reception, explore philosophical insights gleaned via the process of reading, pose formalist questions of the text, or seek to resolve a "sense of confusion."
Importantly, postcritique is not a straightforward repudiation of critique, but instead seeks to supplement it with new interpretative practices. It views critique as being valuable in certain situations, but inadequate in others. As Felski claims in The Uses of Literature, critical and postcritical readings can and should coexist. "In the long run," she argues, "we should all heed Ricœur’s advice to combine a willingness to suspect with an eagerness to listen; there is no reason why our readings cannot blend analysis and attachment, criticism and love."Felski is careful to point out, in her later study The Limits of Critique, that her argument "is not conceived as a polemic against critique."In a similar spirit, Christopher Castiglia claims that critique can be salvaged if scholars renounce "critiquiness," which he associates with smug knowingness and thoroughgoing skepticism.