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Reference works for literary theory

To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Download Free PDF. Contemporary Literary Theory.

Rozina Qureshi. Download PDF. A short summary of this paper. Widdowson and Brooker chart a clear and comprehensively documented path through the full range of what is best in contemporary literary theory John Drakakis, Stirling University This Guide is as stimulating and instructive an introduction to [literary theory] as any reader might wish for.

This book presents the full range of positions and movements in contemporary literary theory. It organises the theories into clearly defined sections and presents them in an accessible and lucid style.

This comprehensive book also contains extensively revised Further Reading lists, including web and electronic resources, and two appendices which recommend glossaries of key theoretical and critical terms and relevant journals. He is the author most recently of Modernity and Metropolis. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN pbk. Criticism—History—20th century. Widdowson, Peter. Brooker, Peter. S45 '. This book may not be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise disposed of by way of trade in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published, without the prior consent of the Publishers.

In memory of Raman Selden, as always. Some little while after revising the second edition in , Raman prematurely and tragically died of a brain tumour. He was much loved and highly respected — not least for the remarkable achievement of producing a short, clear, informative and unpolemical volume on a diverse and difficult subject.

A third edition appeared in , brought up-to-date by Peter Widdowson, and in he was joined by Peter Brooker in an extensive reworking of the fourth edition debts to other advisers who assisted them on those occasions are acknowledged in previous Prefaces.

Twenty years is a long time in contemporary literary theory, and the terrain, not surprisingly, has undergone substantial change since Raman Selden first traversed it. As early as the third edition, it was noted that, in the nature of things, the volume was beginning to have two rather more clearly identifiable functions than it had when the project was initiated.

The earlier chapters were taking on a historical cast in outlining movements from which newer developments had received their impetus but had then superseded, while the later ones attempted to take stock of precisely those newer developments, to mark out the coordinates of where we live and practise theory and criticism now.

The Introduction reflects, amongst other things, on the issues which lie behind the current revisions, and the reading lists have, of course, again been extensively updated. In his Introduction to that first edition, it was still possible for Raman to note that, until recently ordinary readers of literature and even professional literary critics had no reason to trouble themselves about developments in literary theory.

Theory seemed a rather rarefied specialism which concerned a few individuals in literature departments who were, in effect, philosophers pretending to be literary critics. Most critics assumed, like Dr Johnson, that great literature was universal and expressed general truths about human life.

For good or ill, no such generalizations about the field of literary criticism could be made now. To the Anglo-Saxon tradition, this was a particularly nasty shock. Nevertheless, we retain — along with, it is only fair to note, a good pro- portion of what Raman originally wrote in the first editions of the book — a commitment to many of his founding beliefs about the need for a concise, clear, introductory guide to the field.

Every age has its theoretical definitions of the nature of literature and its theorized principles on which critical approaches to the analysis of literature are premised. This period c. If nothing else, they wanted to know exactly what they were being asked to reject. Inevitably, any attempt to put together a brief summation of com- plex and contentious concepts, to say much in little, will result in over- simplifications, compressions, generalizations and omissions.

For example, we made the decision when revising the fourth edition that approaches premised on pervasive linguistic and psychoanalytic theories were best dis- persed throughout the various chapters rather than having discrete sections devoted to them. The chapter on New Criticism and F. This is because Russian Formalism, albeit mainly produced in the second two decades of the twentieth century, did not have widespread impact until the late s and the s, when it was effect- ively rediscovered, translated and given currency by Western intellectuals who were themselves part of the newer Marxist and structuralist movements of that period.

Hence, we present the latter as anterior to Formalism in terms of critical theoret- ical ideology, because they represent the traditions of criticism, from the outset and principally, with which contemporary critical theory had to engage. But more generally, and leaving aside for the moment the fact that in , if not in , the effects of these theoretical debates have so marked literary studies that it is unthinkable to ignore them, why should we trouble ourselves about theory?

How, after all, does it affect our experience and understanding of reading literary texts? One answer would be that some familiarity with theory tends to undermine reading as an innocent activity. One simple way of demonstrating the effect of theorizing literature is to see how different theories raise different questions about it from differ- ent foci of interest. However, it is noteworthy in what we have outlined above that none of the examples is taken from the more contemporary theoretical fields of feminism, poststructuralism, postmodernism, postcolonialism and gay, les- bian or queer theory.

This is because all of these, in their different ways, disturb and disrupt the relations between the terms in the original diagram, and it is these movements which account for the disproportionate scale of the twenty-year gap between the moment when Raman Selden began the book and the moment of its revision now.

Although not overtly structured to indicate such a change, the book is now in two distinct halves. Those theories which comprised the entirety of the earlier editions have been reduced and pressed back into Chapters 1—6, or just about half of the whole volume. This is not to say that they are now redundant, sterile or irrelevant — their premises, metho- dologies and perceptions remain enlightening, and may yet be the source of still more innovative departures in theorizing literature — but in so far as they were the pace-makers for the new leaders of the field, they have dropped back and are out of the current race.

A difficult decision in this context was how to deal with the chapter on feminist theories. The long chapter on poststructuralism now contains rather more on psychoanalytic theories and an updating of the treatment of New Historicism and Cultural Materialism. Most of the above has been retained in the present fifth edition, although revised and refined where necessary.

One notable change in these is the inclusion in square brackets of dates of first publication for many of the founding texts of contemporary literary theory in order to indicate how much earlier they often are than the modern editions by which they subsequently made their impact.

Equally, the date of translation into English of seminal European texts is included for the same reason. But a change has occurred — a change producing a situ- ation very different to that of the increasingly abstract and self-obsessed intellectual field which the original edition of this book felt itself just about able to describe and contain.

This has been particu- larly the case with critical theories and practices which focus on gender and sexuality and with those which seek to deconstruct Euro- and ethno- centricity. Second, given the postmodern theoretical fission we have sug- gested above, there has been a turn in some quarters to ostensibly more traditional positions and priorities. This is by no means the Lazarus-like spasms of the old guard come back from the dead, but the view of younger academics who have gone through the theory mill and who wish to challenge the dominance of theoretical discourse in literary studies on behalf of literature itself — to find a way of talking about literary texts, about the experience of reading and evaluating them.

Other related effects of developments in contemporary theory over the past decades may be adduced as follows. The theoretical challenging of the criteria on which the canon is established, together with the arrival on the agenda of many more marginal kinds of literary and other cultural production hitherto excluded from it, has at once caused a withering of the old verities and an explosion of new materials for serious study.

While the canon retains some prestigious defenders for example, Harold Bloom and George Steiner , the more per- vasive tendency has been to push literary studies towards forms of cultural studies, where a much larger and uncanonized range of cultural production is under analysis.

The present volume recognizes this, but in turn and given its brief, it attempts to retain a literary focus within the broad and constantly mutating processes of cultural history. Despite the complexity and diversity of the field as we have presented it, however, there are a number of fundamental lessons that the theoret- ical debates of the past thirty years have thrown up — ones learnt not only by radicals but also by those who wish to defend more conventional or tra- ditionally humanistic positions and approaches.

In Literary Studies, the crucial issue seems to be the relation between Theory and Criticism. But what, after all, is Theory in this con- text? The answers lie in a number of fallacies which traverse the notion of the failure of theory. First, it implies that theory has a privileged role in a hierarchy of conceptual, creative and critical discourses, rather than recognizing the dialectical relationship between theory and prac- tice in which they test and transform each other.

Third, as a consequence, it seems to set up a stark choice at a specious crossroads between a cul-de-sac of autonomous and impenetrable theory and a through-road of critical prac- tice, accessible language and direct encounter with literary texts. In reality, of course, there is no crossroads: theory shadows criticism as a questioning and interiorized companion, and the conversa- tion between them goes on, whatever their apparent separation.

In the event, the demystification of theory, which has resulted in the great plurality of theorized praxes for specific interests and purposes, should allow us to be rather more self-questioning and critical about it.

To restate the obvious, occupying a theory-free zone is a fundamental impossibility, and to allow our students to think that it is not would be a dereliction of intellectual duty. But if we do continue to teach theory, familiar questions abound.

Should students be introduced to theory via abstruse, perplexing and intimidating theoretical essays which are conceptually and stylistically far removed from their own experience of studying literature? Can students engage in meaningful sem- inar discussion when they have limited grasp of the debates the theory is addressing and scant knowledge of the literary texts to which it may do no more than allude in passing?

Is there any meaningful use, finally, in simply lecturing on theory? All such questions are, in effect, a reflex of the press- ing central questions: how to get beyond a passive engagement with the- ory or, conversely, a loose pluralism in which students shop around for those theories which most appeal to them i.

Students need to be able to make informed and engaged choices about the theories they encounter, to take a critical stance towards them, and to deploy the resulting insights in their own critical practice. Lodge, David ed. Newton, K. Rylance, Rick ed. Selden, Raman ed. Tallack, Douglas ed. Walder, Dennis ed. Hawthorn, Jeremy ed. Murray, Chris ed. Payne, Michael ed. Sim, Stuart ed.

Simons, Jon ed. Wolfreys, Julian ed. Leavis Origins: Eliot, Richards, Empson T he origins of the dominant Anglo-American traditions of criticism in the mid-twentieth century roughly from the s to the s are of course complex and often apparently contradictory — as are their theoretical and critical positions and practices.

The principal twentieth-century mediator of Arnold into the new critical movements, and himself the single most influential common figure behind them — British or American — was the American and then naturalized English poet, dramatist and critic, T.

Eliot see below. To over-simplify, what is central to all the diverse inflections of the Anglo- American tradition — and itself derived from the two sources mentioned above — is a profound, almost reverential regard for literary works themselves.

This is its great danger; and of course it disenfranchises huge tracts of literary writing from serious study and status.

Contemporary Literary Theory

Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer. Miscellanea Vol. Miscellanea Published: Editorial Editor's Preface. Literary Theory as a Corrective in National Cultures.

Closure versus subversion, product versus practice, meaning-containing object versus significance-scattering process: Barthes' theory of writing owes a great deal, as we shall see, both to Marxism and to psychoanalysis. Deconstructionist design wasn't well received by modernism, an advocate of practicality and effectiveness; however, as the beginning of subsequent postmodernism, it started to earn a warm welcome from a number of designers. There has been incessant critical contradiction in terms of the heritage of deconstruction. Then there is a section on the contemporary deconstructionist approach of Jacques Derrida and Paul de Man who expose tropic activity within philosophical discourse itself. Abdul Hakim, KH. All the subsequent page references to this book are incorporated in the text.

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Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory.pdf

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Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory: The Johns Hopkins Guide

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Reference works for literary theory

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Marvel C. 09.12.2020 at 11:39

The field of literary theory and criticism is vast and encompasses many different classical and Formalist Literary Theory in America, Cambridge () (PDF).

Margaux F. 12.12.2020 at 03:12

A reader's guide to contemporary literary theory / Raman Selden, Peter lesbian and queer theories Gay theory and criticism Lesbian feminist theory.

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