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An introduction to literary and cultural theory
Series: Beginnings
Author: Peter Barry

Theory often eclipses the text, just as the moon's shadow obscures the sun in an eclipse, so that the text loses its own voice and begins to voice theory. This book provides summaries or descriptions of a number of important theoretical essays. It commences with an account of the 'liberal humanism' against which all newer critical approaches to literature, broadly speaking, define themselves. The book suggests a useful form of intensive reading, which breaks down the reading of a difficult chapter or article into five stages, as designated by the letters 'SQRRR': Survey, Question, Read, Recall, and Review. It explains the rise of English studies by indicating what higher education was like in England until the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The book talks about the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Derrida. It lists some differences and distinctions between structuralism and post-structuralism under the four headings: origins, tone and style, attitude to language, and project. Providing a clear example of deconstructive practice, the book then describes three stages of the deconstructive process: the verbal, the textual, and the linguistic. It includes information on some important characteristics of literary modernism practiced by various writers, psychoanalytic criticism, feminist criticism and queer theory. The book presents an example of Marxist criticism, and discusses the overlap between cultural materialism and new historicism, specific differences between conventional close reading and stylistics and insights on narratology. It covers the story of literary theory through ten key events.

Series: Beginnings
Author: John McLeod

This book provides a sense of the continuing debates about postcolonialism while seeking to anchor some of its key themes and vocabularies securely. It takes as its primary focus, the various reading practices which distinguish and characterise much of the field - practices which for the purpose of this book attend chiefly to literary texts, but which can be applied beyond a strictly literary context to other cultural phenomena. The book introduces some major areas of enquiry within postcolonialism, as well as offers concrete examples of various kinds of relevant reading and writing practices. It provides a brief historical sketch of colonialism and decolonisation, providing the intellectual contexts and development of postcolonialism. The book approaches various attitudes towards nationalist representations in literary and other writings during the busy period of decolonisation in the 1950s and 1960s. It then deals with national traditions and national history, and the conflict between national liberation and imperialist domination. Divisions within the nation such as ethnicity, language, gender and eliteness which threaten the realisation of its progressive ideals are discussed, with attention on Partha Chatterjee's narrative of Indian nationalism and Chinua Achebe's novel Anthills of the Savannah. Other discussions include the re-reading of literary 'classics', the re-writing of received literary texts by postcolonial writers, postcolonial feminist criticism, and migration and diaspora in the context of decolonisation. The 'STOP and THINK' section in each chapter identify focal points of debate for readers to pursue critically.

Abstract only
Series: Beginnings
Author: Steven Earnshaw

Terms used to describe artistic practices have different meanings from their common usage, but 'realism' as an aesthetic idea cannot be too far removed from the way we would talk about something 'real'. This book explores the artistry and aesthetics of realist literature, along with the assumptions of realist literature. It examines the different ways in which theorists, critics and philosophers conceptualise 'realism'. The book argues that a 'realist' sensibility is the ground on which other modes of literature often exist. It considers verisimilitude that is associated with the complexity of realism, describing the use of realism in two ways: capital 'R' and small 'r'. A set of realist novels is used to explore preliminary definition of realism. The STOP and THINK section lists some points to consider when thinking about realist works. The book looks at the characteristics of the Realist novel. It deals with the objections raised in discussions of Realism, from the Realist period and twentieth- and twenty-first century criticisms. The book provides information on the novel genre, language that characterises Realism, and selection of novel material. It looks at crucial elements such as stage design, and a technical feature often overlooked, the aside, something which seems non-realistic, and which might offer another view on Realism. The book talks about some writers who straddled both periods from the 1880s and 1890s onwards, until the 1920s/1930s, gradually moved away from Realism to modernism. Literary realism, and Aristotle's and Plato's works in relation to realism are also discussed.