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

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.

South African liberal humanists in postwar London
Andrea Thorpe

, their espousal of liberal humanism 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

in South African London
Abstract only
Peter Barry

with an account of the ‘liberal humanism’ 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

in Beginning theory (fourth edition)
Mark Brown

authoritarian art form is the musical’ (AT, 17) and he castigates what he calls the ‘ideology’ of London/English theatre, which is, he asserts, ‘liberal humanism’;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

in Howard Barker’s Art of Theatre
Abstract only
Germany, space and modernity
Leif Jerram

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 liberal humanism. Focusing on criticism of the city would allow any consistent irrational or

in Germany’s other modernity
Open Access (free)
The ‘outside’ in poetry in the 1980s and 1990s
Linden Peach

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 liberal humanism’ 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

in Across the margins
Some destinations beyond catastrophe
Howard Barker

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 R&G 20_Tonra 01 11/10/2013 17:30 Page 209 Some destinations beyond catastrophe attaching the word to the

in Howard Barker’s Art of Theatre
Peter Barry

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 liberal humanism, and has a more ‘up

in Beginning theory (fourth edition)
Abstract only
Peter Barry

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 liberal humanism 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

in Beginning theory (fourth edition)
Anshuman A. Mondal

essentialism’ that Spivak had noticed in the Subaltern Studies project through ‘a fluid and at times confusing deployment of the lexicons of both liberal humanism and post-structuralism … [which] is part of his strategic avoidance with either humanism or post-structuralism … In a theoretically elusive way he suggests that “real life” can only be grasped as a performance in the “theatre” of writing, which actually produces the presence it seems to describe.’22 Although Dixon acknowledges the tension in In an Antique Land between humanism and postmodernism here, it seems

in Amitav Ghosh