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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.

Peter Barry

‘multiplicities of meaning’. They look for shifts and breaks of various kinds in the text and see these as evidence of what is repressed or glossed over or passsed over in silence by the text. These discontinuities are sometimes called ‘fault-lines’, a geological metaphor referring to the breaks in rock formations which give evidence of previous activity and movement. Deconstruction: an example I try here to give a clear example of deconstructive practice, showing what is distinctive about it while at the same time suggesting that it may not constitute a complete break

in Beginning theory (fourth edition)
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What is 'Gothic'?
Robert Miles

textual destiny of power. The figure ‘turn’ may call to the reader’s mind the deconstructive practices of Jacques Derrida and Paul De Man. ‘Deconstruction’ has become an inescapable portmanteau word, combining the senses of ‘analysis’ and ‘taking apart’. Here I want to invoke neither Derrida’s and De Man’s philosophical and rhetorical theories, nor ‘deconstructions’ familiar sense. I grant the slippery

in Gothic writing 1750–1820
Peter Barry

's in the London Review of Books , Denis Donoghue's in the New York Review of Books , and Roger Scruton's BBC Radio 3 talk. Deconstruction and Criticism caused such outrage because it wasn't in fact a work of deconstructive theory , but (ostensibly) of deconstructive practice. Had it been ‘mere’ theory, hostile academic readers (or dippers-in) of other persuasions could have dismissed it as not really being germane to their own core business of reading and interpreting literature. It could then have been brushed aside as just one more of the increasing number

in Beginning theory (fourth edition)
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Sound, signification and materiality
Andy Birtwistle

history of deconstruction, the term is used in this book in a more general sense to signal those artistic and critical practices that, in the wake of structuralism, sought to deconstruct particular (often hegemonic) cultural practices and objects. My own use of the word seeks to embrace a plurality of deconstructive practices, including the strategies associated with so-called ‘counter cinema’ and

in Cinesonica
Open Access (free)
Quentin Crisp as Orlando’s Elizabeth I
Glyn Davis

inherently political discourse and its deployment by straights a mere appropriation. Drag, like camp, was also subject to similar scrutiny, defended and pilloried in equal measure: an embarrassing relic to some, a deconstructive practice highlighting the performative nature of all gendered behaviour to others. Orlando is a rich text in relation to these debates. What Crisp derogatorily referred to as the film

in The British monarchy on screen
The mutual paranoia of Jacques Derrida and Niklas Luhmann
Gunther Teubner

network of decisions, the validity of which is not necessarily dependent on the validity of legal argumentation (concepts, doctrines, principles, policies), but merely structurally coupled to them in a loose way. Such an institutionalised separation of self-observation and operation creates problems for deconstructive practice, given that the latter does not systematically distinguish texts from social institutions, i.e. from

in Critical theory and legal autopoiesis
Representation and the real in the twentieth-century avant-gardes
Liz Tomlin

efficacy of new performance practices in the postmodern era. In his essay on the seminal European company Forced Entertainment, Florian Malzacher dismisses the political efficacy of the Brechtian model which, he claims, ‘has become a mere affirmation or mirror of reality and as such, fails as a valid political argument in the same way the bourgeois theatre failed before Brecht began to revolutionize it’ (2004: 132). Instead, he holds Forced Entertainment’s sceptical deconstructive practice as the new model for a political theatre of our time: The art work resists and at

in Acts and apparitions
Abstract only
John Drakakis

of deconstructive practice, we need to remind ourselves, as Annabel Patterson has observed, that Holinshed ‘was only one of nearly a dozen persons who contributed to the project over two decades and in two quite different editions, the first appearing in 1577, the second, expanded version of 1587 largely produced after Holinshed’s death’. 97 The point is, surely, that even where it is possible to identify origins they tend to be either plural, or, where no individual writers can be identified, they remain anonymous. In a

in Shakespeare’s resources