This article explores the overlapping histories of close reading and mass media by attending to the late-career film and television experiments of I. A. Richards. A lifelong critic of the entertainment industry and (arguably reactionary) media theorist, Richards also spent decades experimenting with the exacting and humbling realities of media production. Spanning his abandoned collaboration with Disney, a series of Basic English teaching films (made with the artist and filmmaker Len Lye), his two educational television programs on poetry, and a number of unrealized television adaptations of Plato and Homer, this article surveys the extensive and ambivalent record of Richards’s ventures into media production. It details his painstaking efforts to reimagine and remediate the experience of poetry and the act of reading in terms of complex multisensory channels of audiovisual stimuli, positioning film and television as ideal media for poetry and as unlikely saviors of a Western humanism in crisis. Literary history, Richards suggests, can no longer be considered merely literary; if it survives, it will do so only as part of an evolving history of media.

You do not currently have access to this content.