The Subject and the Text: Essays on Literary Theory and Philosophy (Literature, Culture, Theory)

Literary theory

In the play, Socrates appears hanging from a basket, where he delivers oracles such as:. Jorge Luis Borges is perhaps the twentieth century's preeminent author of philosophical fiction.

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He wrote a short story in which the philosopher Averroes is the chief protagonist, Averroes's Search. Many plot points in his stories accurately paraphrase and epitomize the thought of major philosophers, including George Berkeley , Arthur Schopenhauer , and Bertrand Russell ; he also attributes various opinions to figures including George Dalgarno. A key plot point in Umberto Eco 's novel The Name of the Rose turns on the discovery of a mysterious book that turns out to contain a lost manuscript by Aristotle. Eco's later novel Foucault's Pendulum became the forerunner of a run of thrillers or detective fiction that toss around learned allusions and the names of historical thinkers; more recent examples include Dan Brown 's The Da Vinci Code and The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason.

Dick , who has often been compared to Borges, raises a significant number of philosophical issues in his novels, everything from the problem of solipsism to many questions of perception and reality. Jorge Luis Borges introduces many philosophical themes, and a number of fictional philosophers, in his short stories. A fictional theologian is the subject of his story Three Versions of Judas.

Fictional philosophers occasionally occur throughout the works of Robert A. Heinlein and Ray Bradbury. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land contains long passages that could be considered as successors to the fictionalized philosophical dialogues of the ancient world, set within the plot. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the academic journal, see Philosophy and Literature.

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General Literary Theory and Criticism Guides

First-person Multiple narrators Stream of consciousness Stream of unconsciousness Unreliable. Retrieved from " https: Aesthetics Philosophy by topic Philosophical literature. Views Read Edit View history. This page was last edited on 20 June , at In its period of ascendancy during the s, "New Historicism" drew criticism from the political left for its depiction of counter-cultural expression as always co-opted by the dominant discourses.

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Part of Literature, Culture, Theory. Author: Manfred Frank, Eberhard-Karls- Universität Tübingen, Germany; Editor: Andrew Bowie, Anglia Polytechnic University. Literature, Culture, Theory is dedicated to theoretical studies in the human works of literary theory but also monographs and essay collections on topics and .

However, "New Historicism" continues to exercise a major influence in the humanities and in the extended conception of literary studies. Though the two fields are increasingly finding points of intersection—the work of bell hooks, for example—and are both activist intellectual enterprises, "Ethnic Studies and "Postcolonial Criticism" have significant differences in their history and ideas. Dubois, we find an early attempt to theorize the position of African-Americans within dominant white culture through his concept of "double consciousness," a dual identity including both "American" and "Negro.

Afro-Caribbean and African writers—Aime Cesaire, Frantz Fanon, Chinua Achebe—have made significant early contributions to the theory and practice of ethnic criticism that explores the traditions, sometimes suppressed or underground, of ethnic literary activity while providing a critique of representations of ethnic identity as found within the majority culture.

Ethnic and minority literary theory emphasizes the relationship of cultural identity to individual identity in historical circumstances of overt racial oppression. More recently, scholars and writers such as Henry Louis Gates, Toni Morrison, and Kwame Anthony Appiah have brought attention to the problems inherent in applying theoretical models derived from Euro-centric paradigms that is, structures of thought to minority works of literature while at the same time exploring new interpretive strategies for understanding the vernacular common speech traditions of racial groups that have been historically marginalized by dominant cultures.

Though not the first writer to explore the historical condition of postcolonialism, the Palestinian literary theorist Edward Said's book Orientalism is generally regarded as having inaugurated the field of explicitly "Postcolonial Criticism" in the West. Said argues that the concept of "the Orient" was produced by the "imaginative geography" of Western scholarship and has been instrumental in the colonization and domination of non-Western societies. Moreover, theorists like Homi K. The work of Gayatri C. Spivak has focused attention on the question of who speaks for the colonial "Other" and the relation of the ownership of discourse and representation to the development of the postcolonial subjectivity.

Like feminist and ethnic theory, "Postcolonial Criticism" pursues not merely the inclusion of the marginalized literature of colonial peoples into the dominant canon and discourse. In this respect, "Postcolonial Criticism" is activist and adversarial in its basic aims. Postcolonial theory has brought fresh perspectives to the role of colonial peoples—their wealth, labor, and culture—in the development of modern European nation states. While "Postcolonial Criticism" emerged in the historical moment following the collapse of the modern colonial empires, the increasing globalization of culture, including the neo-colonialism of multinational capitalism, suggests a continued relevance for this field of inquiry.

Gender theory came to the forefront of the theoretical scene first as feminist theory but has subsequently come to include the investigation of all gender and sexual categories and identities. Feminist gender theory followed slightly behind the reemergence of political feminism in the United States and Western Europe during the s.

Political feminism of the so-called "second wave" had as its emphasis practical concerns with the rights of women in contemporary societies, women's identity, and the representation of women in media and culture.

Literature, Culture, Theory

These causes converged with early literary feminist practice, characterized by Elaine Showalter as "gynocriticism," which emphasized the study and canonical inclusion of works by female authors as well as the depiction of women in male-authored canonical texts. Feminist gender theory is postmodern in that it challenges the paradigms and intellectual premises of western thought, but also takes an activist stance by proposing frequent interventions and alternative epistemological positions meant to change the social order.

In the context of postmodernism, gender theorists, led by the work of Judith Butler, initially viewed the category of "gender" as a human construct enacted by a vast repetition of social performance. The biological distinction between man and woman eventually came under the same scrutiny by theorists who reached a similar conclusion: Gender theory achieved a wide readership and acquired much its initial theoretical rigor through the work of a group of French feminist theorists that included Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray, Helene Cixous, and Julia Kristeva, who while Bulgarian rather than French, made her mark writing in French.

What is Literary Criticism?

French feminist thought is based on the assumption that the Western philosophical tradition represses the experience of women in the structure of its ideas. As an important consequence of this systematic intellectual repression and exclusion, women's lives and bodies in historical societies are subject to repression as well. Their work beyond the descriptive stage becomes an intervention in the history of theoretical discourse, an attempt to alter the existing categories and systems of thought that found Western rationality. French feminism, and perhaps all feminism after Beauvoir, has been in conversation with the psychoanalytic revision of Freud in the work of Jacques Lacan.

Two concepts from Kristeva—the "semiotic" and "abjection"—have had a significant influence on literary theory. Masculine gender theory as a separate enterprise has focused largely on social, literary, and historical accounts of the construction of male gender identities. Such work generally lacks feminisms' activist stance and tends to serve primarily as an indictment rather than a validation of male gender practices and masculinity.

Having long served as the de facto "subject" of Western thought, male identity and masculine gender theory awaits serious investigation as a particular, and no longer universally representative, field of inquiry. Much of what theoretical energy of masculine gender theory currently possesses comes from its ambiguous relationship with the field of "Queer theory.

To "queer" becomes an act by which stable boundaries of sexual identity are transgressed, reversed, mimicked, or otherwise critiqued. Michel Foucault's work on sexuality anticipates and informs the Queer theoretical movement in a role similar to the way his writing on power and discourse prepared the ground for "New Historicism.

Eve Sedgwick is another pioneering theorist of "Queer theory," and like Butler, Sedgwick maintains that the dominance of heterosexual culture conceals the extensive presence of homosocial relations. For Sedgwick, the standard histories of western societies are presented in exclusively in terms of heterosexual identity: Much of the intellectual legacy of "New Historicism" and "Cultural Materialism" can now be felt in the "Cultural Studies" movement in departments of literature, a movement not identifiable in terms of a single theoretical school, but one that embraces a wide array of perspectives—media studies, social criticism, anthropology, and literary theory—as they apply to the general study of culture.

Stuart Hall, Meaghan Morris, Tony Bennett and Simon During are some of the important advocates of a "Cultural Studies" that seeks to displace the traditional model of literary studies. Literary Theory "Literary theory" is the body of ideas and methods we use in the practical reading of literature. What Is Literary Theory? Traditional Literary Criticism Academic literary criticism prior to the rise of "New Criticism" in the United States tended to practice traditional literary history: Formalism and New Criticism "Formalism" is, as the name implies, an interpretive approach that emphasizes literary form and the study of literary devices within the text.

Marxism and Critical Theory Marxist literary theories tend to focus on the representation of class conflict as well as the reinforcement of class distinctions through the medium of literature. Structuralism and Poststructuralism Like the "New Criticism," "Structuralism" sought to bring to literary studies a set of objective criteria for analysis and a new intellectual rigor. New Historicism and Cultural Materialism "New Historicism," a term coined by Stephen Greenblatt, designates a body of theoretical and interpretive practices that began largely with the study of early modern literature in the United States.

Ethnic Studies and Postcolonial Criticism "Ethnic Studies," sometimes referred to as "Minority Studies," has an obvious historical relationship with "Postcolonial Criticism" in that Euro-American imperialism and colonization in the last four centuries, whether external empire or internal slavery has been directed at recognizable ethnic groups: Gender Studies and Queer Theory Gender theory came to the forefront of the theoretical scene first as feminist theory but has subsequently come to include the investigation of all gender and sexual categories and identities.

Cultural Studies Much of the intellectual legacy of "New Historicism" and "Cultural Materialism" can now be felt in the "Cultural Studies" movement in departments of literature, a movement not identifiable in terms of a single theoretical school, but one that embraces a wide array of perspectives—media studies, social criticism, anthropology, and literary theory—as they apply to the general study of culture. References and Further Reading a. General Works on Theory Culler, Jonathan.

A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, The Cultural Studies Reader.

The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, Vol I

The existentialists include among their numbers important French authors who used fiction to convey their philosophical views; these include Jean-Paul Sartre 's novel Nausea and play No Exit , and Albert Camus 's The Stranger. If so, what are these principles? Close this message to accept cookies or find out how to manage your cookie settings. Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection. Stuart Hall, Meaghan Morris, Tony Bennett and Simon During are some of the important advocates of a "Cultural Studies" that seeks to displace the traditional model of literary studies.

University of Minnesota Press, After the New Criticism. University of Chicago Press, Addison, Wesley, Longman, Rice, Philip and Waugh, Patricia. Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. Rivkin, Julie and Ryan, Michael. Literary and Cultural Theory Adorno, Theodor. Selected Essays on Mass Culture. Richard Macksey's foreword describes how the poetics of paratexts interact with more general questions of literature as a cultural institution, and situates Gennet's work in contemporary literary theory. Rhetoric and Culture in Lacan Gilbert D.

This is the first book to explore the full range and import of Lacan's theory of poetry and its relationship to his understanding of the subject and historicity. Gilbert Chaitin's lucid and accessible study of this famously complex thinker shows how Lacan moves beyond the traditionally hostile polarities of mythos and logos, poetics and philosophy, to conceive of the subject as a complex interplay between psychoanalysis, rationality and history.

Lacan's incorporation of historical necessity into the formation of subjectivity enables him to illuminate the role literature plays in the creation of selfhood. Lacan's metaphor of the subject, Chaitin argues, draws not only on Saussure, Jakobson, Freud, Heidegger and Hegel but on hitherto unacknowledged sources such as Bertrand Russell and I.

Literature: Theory & Criticism

Chaitin explores the ambiguities, contradictions and singularities of Lacan's immensely influential work to provide a definitive account of the theoretical development across his entire career. Kenneth Burke, arguably the most important American literary theorist of the twentieth century, helped define the theoretical terrain for contemporary literary and cultural studies.

His perspectives were literary and linguistic, but his influences ranged across history, philosophy, and the social sciences. In this important study, first published in , Robert Wess traces the trajectory of Burke's long career and situates his work in relation to postmodernity.

His study is both an examination of contemporary theories of rhetoric, ideology, and the subject, and an explanation of why Burke failed to complete his Motives trilogy. Burke's own critique of the 'isolated unique individual' led him to question the possibility of unique individuation, a strategy which anticipated important elements of postmodern concepts of subjectivity. Robert Wess' study is a judicious exposition of Burke's massive oeuvre, and a crucial intervention in debates on rhetoric and human agency.

Drawing on work in critical theory, feminism and social history, this book traces the lines of tension shot through Victorian culture by the fear that the social world was being reduced to a display window behind which people, their actions and their convictions were exhibited for the economic appetites of others. Affecting the most basic elements of Victorian life - the vagaries of desire, the rationalisation of social life, the gendering of subjectivity, the power of nostalgia, the fear of mortality, the cyclical routines of the household - the ambivalence generated by commodity culture organizes the thematic concerns of these novels and the society they represent.

Taking the commodity as their point of departure, chapters on Thackeray, Gaskell, Dickens, Eliot, Trollope, and the Great Exhibition of suggest that Victorian novels provide us with graphic and enduring images of the power of commodities to affect the varied activities and beliefs of individual and social experience. Derrida and Autobiography Robert Smith https: The work of Jacques Derrida can be seen to reinvent most theories. In this book Robert Smith offers both a reading of the philosophy of Derrida and an investigation of current theories of autobiography.

Smith argues that for Derrida autobiography is not so much subjective self-revelation as relation to the other, not so much a general condition of thought as a general condition of writing - what Derrida calls the 'autobiography of the writing' - which mocks any self-centred finitude of living and dying.

In this context, and using literary-critical, philosophical, and psychoanalytical sources, Smith thinks through Derrida's texts in a new, but distinctly Derridean, way, and finds new perspectives to analyse the work of classical writers including Hegel, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Freud, and de Man. The anti-sceptical relativism and self-conscious rhetoric of the pragmatist tradition, which began with the Older Sophists of Ancient Greece and developed through an American tradition including William James and John Dewey has attracted new attention in the context of late twentieth-century postmodernist thought.

At the same time there has been a more general renewal of interest across a wide range of humanistic and social science disciplines in rhetoric itself: This book, written by leading scholars, explores the various ways in which rhetoric, sophistry and pragmatism overlap in their current theoretical and political implications, and demonstrates how they contribute both to a rethinking of the human sciences within the academy and to larger debates over cultural politics.

The language theory of Mikhail Bakhtin does not fall neatly under any single rubric - 'dialogism,' 'marxism,' 'prosaics,' 'authorship' - because the philosophic foundation of his writing rests ambivalently between phenomenology and Marxism. The theoretical tension of these positions creates philosophical impasses in Bakhtin's work, which have been neglected or ignored partly because these impasses are themselves mirrored by the problems of antifoundationalist and materialist tendencies in literary scholarship.

Between Phenomenology and Marxism Michael Bernard-Donals examines various incarnations of phenomenological and materialist theory - including the work of Jauss, Fish, Rorty, Althusser, and Pecheux - and places them beside Bakhtin's work, providing a contextualised study of Bakhtin, a critique of the problems of contemporary critics, and an original contribution to literary theory. Peter Szondi is widely regarded as being among the most distinguished post-war literary critics.

This first English edition of one of his most lucid and interesting series of lectures opens up his work in hermeneutics for English-speaking readers. The question of what is involved in understanding a text occupied Biblical and legal scholars long before it became a concern of literary critics.

Peter Szondi here traces the development of hermeneutics through examination of the work of eighteenth-century German scholars. Ordinarily treated only as prefigurations of Schleiermacher, the work of Enlightenment theorists Johann Martin Chladenius, George Friedrich Meier, and Friedrich Ast yields valuable insight into the 'material theory' of interpretation, on which a practical interpretive methodology might be built. Theories of Mimesis Arne Melberg https: Mimesis, with its connecting concepts of imitation, simile, and similarity, has been cited since classical times in the exploration of the relationship between art and reality.

In this major study Arne Melberg discusses the theory and history of mimesis through narratological analysis of texts by Plato, Cervantes, Rousseau, and Kierkegaard. Moving away from the relatively straightforward 'representation of reality' ideas in Erich Auerbach's Mimesis , Melberg brings the concept of mimesis into the context of the literary theories of de Man and others. Theories of Mimesis is a strenuously argued account of language and time, charting the movement of mimesis from the Platonic philosophy of similarity to modern ideas of difference.

The concept of possible worlds, originally introduced in philosophical logic, has recently gained interdisciplinary influence; it proves to be a productive tool when borrowed by literary theory to explain the notion of fictional worlds. In this book Ruth Ronen develops a comparative reading of the use of possible worlds in philosophy and in literary theory, and offers an analysis of the way the concept contributes to our understanding of fictionality and the structure and ontology of fictional worlds.

Dr Ronen suggests a new set of criteria for the definition of fictionality, making rigorous distinctions between fictional and possible worlds; and through specific studies of domains within fictional worlds - events, objects, time, and point of view - she proposes a radical rethinking of the problem of fictionality in general and fictional narrativity in particular. The postmodern debate has been heavily influenced by often contradictory conclusions about the foundations of knowledge: