criticism is history.
Literature is the fair flower of culture, but underneath culture are the deeper strata of philosophy, theology, law, statecraft—of ideology and institutionalism—resting finally upon the subsoil of economics. We may begin as critics but we end as historians.
— Vernon Parrington, “Economics and Criticism” (1917, published posthumously in 1953)
Hat tip to Philip Deloria and Alexander Olson, American Studies: A User’s Guide