The study of English is a vast subject area. English literature has explicitly a rich history that goes back centuries to Anglo-Saxon times. Within literary studies, literary criticism and literary theory are considered very important. This article traces the trends in literary criticism and theory from its origins to date. It, then, contextualizes this history in contemporary times. Finally, this article aims to analyze the current scene in literary criticism. Based on the developments analyzed in the field over the centuries, the article presents a systematic breakdown of historical trends and commentary on the current scenario. It is concluded that literary studies can be broadly classified into four distinct periods or stages based on the evolutionary markers of critical studies: non-disciplinary phase, disciplinary era, interdisciplinary period, and the most recent and ongoing transitory stage. These distinct divisions clarify the significant forces within literary and critical studies within each period. They are also helpful in grasping the current trend in the field and predicting the future of English studies.