Following along on my Chicago School sea-lurches. Came upon another study - The Origins of Criticism, by Andrew Ford (Princeton UP, 2002).
RS Crane & the Chi-towners pointed to a dissonance between Aristotle's sense of dramatic form in poetry, and what came a little later, in the text/rhetorical emphasis of Alexandrians, Horace, et al.
What I'm getting from the Ford book (just on intro chapter now) is that the formal approach of Aristotle was a sort of culmination of a much earlier trend out of archaic times : moving from strictly oral performance and in situ, collective critique (in festive symposia - dinner & drinking feasts - verbal contests - early "slams"), toward literacy, reading & texts (when song & speech become "poems").
Aristotle's Poetics, while being as I mentioned the summation & foremost example of that new trend, still exhibits the traces of the earlier cultural situation.
Ford is interested in the difference between the later textual criticism's sole focus on aesthetics, and the traditional-archaic focus on the moral & social fitness of the speech. We can see this same dynamic (aesthetic autonomy, social relevance) playing out in debates about contemporary poetry.
The focus on the interior rightness of a text began early - Plato has a famous passage in the Gorgias in which "speakers are urged to follow painters, builders, shipwrights and other craftsmen who construct self-standing objects by 'compelling one part to suit & fit with another'" [Ford, p. 20].
self-standing objects. the advent of writing - & shipwrighting.