One tough task amongst many that one faces while swimming in the complex philosophical discourses is to define and distinguish criticism and theory. One can easily say that theory is just a continuation of criticism that has been persistent since classical times—though, this may not prove to be the case.
Technically, to see, this sort of view regarding theory is right as because the theory is, in fact, the modern development in understanding literature and its practices, but, in a real sense, both stands way different from each other.
From classical times to now, Criticism never borrowed any idea from other disciplines such as psychology, sociology, political sciences, etc., but literary theory’s fundamental pillars are found in other disciplines; for example, feminist reading of a text could not have become possible without sociology. Therefore, literary theory has bridged the gap that various disciplines have.
Literary theory has made the understanding and readings of literature multi/inter-disciplinary. However, there is a wide range of scholars who don’t consider literary theory important. The one reason for such reaction would be, as M A R Habib has written: “The reaction of many literary scholars against modern literary and cultural theory is often underlain by a distrust of philosophy, of technical jargon, and a lack of familiarity with the great philosophical systems.“