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.
, their espousal of liberalhumanism is both expressed and received in subtly different ways. In this chapter I provide a close reading and comparison of key texts about London by each author. But first I provide an overview of each writer's career and London-based writing.
Peter Abrahams was born Peter Henry Abrahams Deras in 1919 to an Ethiopian father and a coloured South African mother, in Vrededorp, a large Johannesburg slum. His tumultuous childhood included the early death of his father and his being sent to family in rural Elsburg, before
with an account of the ‘liberalhumanism’ against which all these newer critical approaches, broadly speaking, define themselves.
There is a problem concerning how to label the older ways of doing literary studies that were challenged in the 1970s and 1980s by the arrival on the scene of the theoretical developments described in this book. One solution is to use a generalised phrase like ‘older approaches to literary study’, or ‘traditional ways of discussing literature’. But the vagueness of descriptors like these is troubling, and it is never safe to assume that
authoritarian art form is the musical’ (AT, 17) and he castigates what he calls the
‘ideology’ of London/English theatre, which is, he asserts, ‘liberalhumanism’;2
that is the politically determined expectation that theatre subject itself to a
project of moral and/or social improvement/reassurance of its audience.3
Neither of these positions endears him to the leading critics in London.
It will be my purpose here to examine the nature and scale of the chasm
which exists between Barker’s theatre – and also his theatre theory (which I
maintain is better described as a
themselves to antidemocratic political philosophy or radical racism. This is not sufficiently reflected in the scholarship. Thus, in this book, as in an
increasing amount of others, the subsequent catastrophe remained a
silent presence in the room, and a different German mainstream
came to the fore.
However, Chapter 1 explored the different ways of critiquing
modernity and the metropolis in early twentieth-century Germany
which, although critical, did not depart from the values of liberalhumanism. Focusing on criticism of the city would allow any consistent irrational or
inadequately given the space available, the variety of work that became
available in these decades.
It hardly needs pointing out that the poetry scene has changed since
the publication of British Poetry Since 1970, in which Blake Morrison
stereotyped the published poet as writing from a ‘nostalgic liberalhumanism’ with ‘strong respect for “traditional” forms, even strict metre
and rhyme’ (Jones and Schmidt 1980: 142). Morrison said as much two
years later in the introduction to The Penguin Book of Contemporary
British Poetry (1982: 11). But, as Robert Hampson and Peter
of moral totality by examining two later works, one relatively
established, Gertrude – The Cry, and one recently completed and unperformed,
Wonder and Worship in the Dying Ward, both of which carry the thesis of
Catastrophic Theatre into yet more uncomfortable territory, namely the experience of Sacrifice.
The culture of Liberal-Humanism finds Sacrifice comprehensible only in
very constrained circumstances. Unwillingly it palliates the death of soldiers by
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Some destinations beyond catastrophe
attaching the word to the
Bordering intimacy is a study of how borders and dominant forms of intimacy, such as family, are central to the governance of postcolonial states such as Britain. The book explores the connected history between contemporary border regimes and the policing of family with the role of borders under European and British empires. Building upon postcolonial, decolonial and black feminist theory, the investigation centres on how colonial bordering is remade in contemporary Britain through appeals to protect, sustain and make family life. Not only was family central to the making of colonial racism but claims to family continue to remake, shore up but also hide the organisation of racialised violence in liberal states. Drawing on historical investigations, the book investigates the continuity of colonial rule in numerous areas of contemporary government – family visa regimes, the policing of sham marriages, counterterror strategies, deprivation of citizenship, policing tactics, integration policy. In doing this, the book re-theorises how we think of the connection between liberal government, race, family, borders and empire. In using Britain as a case, this opens up further insights into the international/global circulations of liberal empire and its relationship to violence.
discourse is immediately apparent. Similarly in all three, the surface of the writing is difficult and the route through to any consequent political action (or stance, even) is necessarily indirect. This kind of postcolonial criticism roughly corresponds, then, to the theoreticised ‘French’ feminist criticism associated with figures like Julia Kristeva or Hélène Cixous. The example of postcolonial criticism offered later is from the work of Edward Said, who is less overtly theoretical, seems to accept some of the premises of liberalhumanism, and has a more ‘up
specific theories about literary language and how it works, and these theories are usually taught alongside the practice.
The grounds for excluding stylistics, therefore, probably lie in the nature of the theoretical outlook behind the discipline, for liberalhumanism and stylistics have a good deal in common. Firstly , both have a strong empirical bias, that is, a bias towards detailed verbal analysis of specific canonical literary texts, rather than a commitment to establishing generalised theoretical positions. Secondly , both have kept aloof from the eclecticism