Why theory?

Cultural critique in film and television

Author: Edward Tomarken

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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