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Peter Barry

Several of the available introductory guides to literary theory incorporate such features as glossaries of key terms, ‘timelines’, and potted accounts of the ideas of important theorists arranged in encyclopaedic format. I have not been tempted to include any of these features in the fourth edition of this book, because I have always preferred to integrate information into a themed narrative. But one way of presenting the story of literary theory is to centre it upon a series of key events which constitute its public history. The advantage of doing this is that

in Beginning theory (fourth edition)
An Introduction
Jerrold Hogle
Andrew Smith

This tenth anniversary issue of Gothic Studies reconsiders how the study of the Gothic mode in many venues (from fiction and drama to cinema and video) has been deeply affected by a wide range of psychoanalytical, historicist, cultural, and literary theories that have been, and can still be, employed to interpret and explain the Gothic phenomenon. This collection builds on the most fruitful of existing theoretical perspectives on the Gothic, sometimes to transform them, or by suggesting new alliances between theory and the study of Gothic that will enrich both domains and advance the mission of Gothic Studies, as well as Gothic scholarship in general, to provide the best arena for understanding the Gothic in all its forms.

Gothic Studies
Open Access (free)
Studies in intimacy

Featuring essays from some of the most prominent voices in early medieval English studies, Dating Beowulf: studies in intimacy playfully redeploys the word ‘dating’, which usually heralds some of the most divisive critical impasses in the field, to provocatively phrase a set of new relationships with an Old English poem. This volume presents an argument for the relevance of the early Middle Ages to affect studies and vice versa, while offering a riposte to anti-feminist discourse and opening avenues for future work by specialists in the history of emotions, feminist criticism, literary theory, Old English literature, and medieval studies alike. To this end, the chapters embody a range of critical approaches, from queer theory to animal studies and ecocriticism to Actor-Network theory, all organized into clusters that articulate new modes of intimacy with the poem.

A study of Georg Lukács’ writings on film, 1913–71

This book explores Georg Lukács' writings on film. The Hungarian Marxist critic Georg Lukács is primarily known as a literary theorist, but he also wrote extensively on the cinema. These writings have remained little known in the English-speaking world because the great majority of them have never actually been translated into English until now. This book contains the most important writings and the translations. This book thus makes a decisive contribution to understandings of Lukács within the field of film studies, and, in doing so, also challenges many existing preconceptions concerning his theoretical position. For example, whilst Lukács' literary theory is well known for its repudiation of naturalism, in his writings on film Lukács appears to advance a theory and practice of film that can best be described as naturalist. Lukácsian film theory and cinema is divided into two parts. In part one, Lukács' writings on film are explored, and placed within relevant historical and intellectual contexts, whilst part two consists of the essays themselves.

An introduction to literary and cultural theory
Series: Beginnings

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.

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Cultural critique in film and television

Why theory? takes six major literary theorists and explores their work using examples from contemporary film and television. Each chapter is devoted to a single theorist and addresses three of their ideas in particular – a methodical approach that, coupled with the concrete and accessible illustrations, helps to strip away the obscurity that has built up around the discipline.

The theorists discussed, representing the cultural critique of the period 1970–2000, are Clifford Geertz, Hayden White, Julia Kristeva, Homi K. Bhabha, Pierre Bourdieu and Martha Nussbaum. The diverse illustrations are taken from the mainstream film and television of the past two decades, and include The West Wing (1999), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Frozen (2013) and Twelve Years a Slave (2013). Providing a broad range of specific examples drawn from everyday life, they allow for sophisticated ideas to be quickly grasped, while demonstrating the enduring power of cultural theory to explain the world around us.

Ideal for students of literature and cultural studies, Why theory? will also be of interest to academics and general readers looking for a new way to approach the discipline, as well as a convincing reassertion of its value.

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Peter Barry

About this book The high-water mark of literary theory occurred in the 1980s. That decade was the ‘moment’ of theory, when the topic was fashionable and controversial. By the 1990s there was already a steady flow of books and articles with titles like After Theory (Thomas Docherty, 1990) or ‘Post-Theory’ (Nicolas Tredell, in The Critical Decade, 1993). As such titles suggest, the ‘moment of theory’ had probably passed. Twenty years on from then, the publication of ‘afters’ continues, with Nicholas Birns's Theory After Theory: An Intellectual History of

in Beginning theory (fourth edition)
Abstract only
Peter Barry

of literature. So the false antithesis between close and ­theorised ways of reading remained dominant in litera­ ture teaching for more than 20 years. The theorists insisted that we should look outwards from the text – towards concerns hitherto those of history, psychology, linguistics and philoso­phy – while close readers continued to look inwards at the text itself, pondering its structure, vocabulary, formal devices, nuances and literary prece­dents. What we actually needed was a Janus-faced critique 1  Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction

in Reading poetry
Thompson as writer, reader and critic
Luke Spencer

analytical horse. Thompson’s insistence on literature as agency relies, of course, upon the ontological security of the author, an idea which it has been the business of much contemporary literary theory, from Barthes onwards, to discredit. His firm belief in authorial intention and the moral autonomy of imaginative writing puts Thompson squarely in the opposite camp to Barthes and Derrida; just as his defence of what he calls ‘the empirical idiom’ and of the value of personal experience in historical writing sets him against Althusser and Anderson. Yet it should be said

in E. P. Thompson and English radicalism
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Chaucer: validity in interpretation
S. H. Rigby

which seeing Chaucer in the context of the political issues, social values, generic conventions and literary theory of his own day can help us to understand the meaning of his work: how he could leave the text of the ‘General Prologue’ ‘open’ precisely because the response required of it was more closed than that expected from a modern novel; how the apparent contradictions which make Theseus a

in Chaucer in context