Semi-following with delight the various trails of bloggies
Though I think Robert's carefully-grounded essay on the New Criticism nonetheless balances too much on the loaded-vague term "autonomy".
There is a science of criticism which attempts to root itself in strictly Aristotelian regard for the specificity of the material under review. This is something RS Crane & his Chicago School tried to follow (& I try to point out in my lil' essays). As distinct from questions of art-or-poetry's political-ethical import or relevance - which are indeed central - there is the question of critical method. An Aristotelian regard for the "quiddity" of the entity under evaluation does not necessarily lead to a-political and a-moral American-technocratic suprematism. In fact it can lead, paradoxically, to the recognition that a work of art can simultaneously reflect both ethical and aesthetic integrity and pith (cf. plays of... Shakespeare... or... poems of John Donne... or various others...).
It's this simultaneous clarity political punch & aesthetic elegance which is rather lacking in the products of much "post-pavane" Ameriqian poetical theory, I would say... perhaps because, as Mark Scroggins points out, they haven't actually read much poetry in the English language... or they haven't the literary zip & curiosity of Latta-day's Rexroth...
...maybe why I most oftenly find the vaunted poetical excerpts offered up by Mr. Silliman so basically boring... drab diction etc...