Introduction
in Beginning theory (fourth edition)
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This introduction invites readers look back on their previous training in literary studies. It looks at the assumptions behind traditional literary criticism, or 'liberal humanism' as theorists usually call it. The word 'liberal' in this formulation means not politically radical, and hence generally evasive and non-committal on political issues. 'Humanism' implies something similar; it suggests a range of negative attributes, such as 'non-Marxist' and 'non-feminist', and 'non-theoretical'. The chapter explains that we are looking, in literary theory, for something we can use, not something which will use us. It suggests a useful form of intensive reading, known as 'SQ3R' or 'SQRRR', which breaks down the reading of a difficult chapter or article into five stages, as designated by the letters 'SQRRR'. The stages are: Survey, Question, Read, Recall, and Review. The chapter includes a STOP and THINK section to help readers reflect on the nature of literary education to date.

Beginning theory (fourth edition)

An introduction to literary and cultural theory

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