The sociology of culture concerns culture—usually understood as the ensemble of symbolic codes used by a society —as it is manifested in society. For Georg Simmel, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history". Culture in the sociological field can be defined as the ways of thinking, the ways of acting, and the material objects that together shape a people's way of life. Culture can be any of two types, non-material culture or material culture.
Cultural sociology first emerged in Weimar Germany, where sociologists such as Alfred Weber used the term Kultursoziologie (cultural sociology). Cultural sociology was then "reinvented" in the English-speaking world as a product of the "cultural turn" of the 1960s, which ushered in structuralist and postmodern approaches to social science. This type of cultural sociology may loosely be regarded as an approach incorporating cultural analysis and critical theory. Cultural sociologists tend to reject scientific methods, instead hermeneutically focusing on words, artifacts and symbols.
New Criticism was a movement in literary theory that dominated American literary criticism in the middle decades of the 20th century. It emphasized close reading, particularly of poetry, to discover how a work of literature functioned as a self-contained, self-referential aesthetic object.
New Criticism developed in the 1920s–30s and peaked in the 1940s–50s. Critical essays by T. S. Eliot, including "Tradition and the Individual Talent" and "Hamlet and His Problems", influenced some of the ideas of the New Critics, as did books like Practical Criticism and The Meaning of Meaning by the English scholar I. A. Richards. The movement is named after John Crowe Ransom's 1941 book The New Criticism.