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Critical Practice (New Accents) Paperback – 16 May 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (16 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415280060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415280068
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 215,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"This book gives the uninitiated and/or sceptical reader a strong sense that new trends in literary theory represent, not an attempt to foist trendy jargo on old common places, but a compelling challenge to restructure our understanding of "literature" in relation to language, self and society." James H. Kavanagh

"A fine assessment of recent work in literary theory and a suggestive account of new directions to take...an excellent piece of critical analysis." William E. Cain

"Teh work of Louis Althusser, Pierre Macherey, Jacques Lacan and Tel Quel group in France are suddenly rendered comprehensible for English readers by Catherine Belsey's Critical Practice. This ambitious and original synthesis exposes the ideological construction of orthodox literary studies."  Alan Sinfield, Critical Quarterly

"A provocative critique of where we are, where we've been and what we're doing." Genre

"An excellent book for the novice." Voice Literary Supplement

About the Author

Catherine Belsey is Professor of English at Cardiff University, where she chairs the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory. Her books include Desire: Love Stories in Western Culture and Shakespeare and the Loss of Eden.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
In David Lodge's novel, Changing Places, Philip Swallow finds, when he arrives as Visiting Professor of English at an American university, that he has been put down to teach a course on novel-writing. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bo S. Svensson on 15 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazon's well written commentary below says what you need to know, with a surplus. I wonder, is it written by the author herself?
So what can I add? I really enjoyed reading this book, in its opening of new venues to an important discussion of modernist and postmodernist topics related to literature and cultural studies. One example: In the 1970'ies I and my generation of young inexperienced marxists read Althusser's complicated french theories on Marxism and Structuralism, found them to dogmatic and static (in German "Kapitallogik") and put them aside. Catherine Belsey's creative reading of Althusser suddenly makes sense to me in its own right and as a useful bridge to Derrida's way of using the structural language theories of Saussure and Benveniste. Prof. Belsey's book is very well written and therefore also easy to understand, the complexity of thoughts have been properly sorted out and outlined. But of course, the problems are still at hand and you will need to use your own way of dealing with them. This is no easy fix!
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By klj on 3 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Useful overview of critical theory . Probably too general for someone with a a background in this area, but helpful for the beginner. Easy to read.
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By Katie Moran on 28 Nov. 2014
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Great thank you
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Contradictory, but a highly valuable aid to literary criticism. 16 April 2009
By Graham Christian Skaggs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was advised this book during a conversation over a cup of coffee. In the conversation I was discussing how I had spent most of my life trying to become "free of society" by isolating myself from my familial, my cultural, my religious and even historical ties. The first thing my companion does is recommend two books: Critical Practice by Cathrine Belsey and Image-Music-Text. The reason, I think, was to make me aware of how completely immersed I am in culture, tradition, religion, etc, and how it predetermines the way I think or "criticize". These books made me extremely self-aware of that. The first book I read was Image-Music-Text, and I highly advise those who are looking to read Critical Practice read that book first. In Image-Music-Text I read this excerpt:

"All images are polysemous, they imply, underlying their signifiers, a 'floating chain' of signifieds, the reader able to choose some and ignore others. Polysemy poses a question of meaning and this question always come through as a dysfunction, even if this dysfunction is recuperated by society as a tragic or a poetic game; in cinema itself, traumatic images are bound up with an uncertainty concerning the meaning of objects or attitudes. Hence in every society various techniques are developed intended to fix the floating chain of signifieds in such a way as to counter the terror of uncertain signs." - Rhetoric of the Image, The Linguistic Message,Image-Music-Text - Roland Barthes

What I believe Critical Practice is trying to stop is "[the] various techniques developed [that are] intended to fix the floating chain of signifieds in such a way as to counter the terror of uncertain signs". The excerpt, in context, has very little to do with the methods suggested in Critical Practice. But it clearly specifies some of things the methods in Critical Practice are opposed to. Critical Practice asks that readers pull themselves outside of the cultural and historical context when they read and write, basically to find more authentic meaning and morality outside of the cultural and historical. The fear is, I suppose, that by not doing this a person's value system is predetermined by the system of semiotics in which he is immersed.

But, I must note the contradiction. The method suggested is also inside of it's own cultural, ideological, and historical context and suggests "a technique developed [that is] intended to fix the floating chain of signifieds." The difference is that it brings the reader face to face with a "terror of uncertain signs" and suggests that this is where meaning can be found and valued. I might be wrong, but this is the impression I got.

I highly recommend this book. I believe it makes one more self-aware of how influenced and (dare I say) predetermined his ideology is by his surrounding environment, culture, and history, but I do not recommend anyone take the technique too seriously. Men were made to place value in things, places, or ideas, and without these we have no value system period. The technique is one that is self-destructive if taken too seriously because it uproots our primary method of finding meaning. Consider the techniques and methods, but (I personally suggest) don't let them become overtly authoritative unless you desire to eradicate your value system (or your traditional morality).
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Book to Remember 22 Feb. 2009
By C. Akova - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Belsey gives a good introduction of what literary criticism should be. She blows out any other orthodox criticism and creates a new vision.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Four Stars 1 Aug. 2014
By Kimspeare - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Though the condition is not so good, it is understandable, considering the publication date of this book.
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great condition! 14 Jun. 2011
By themagicalkay - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book came so quickly and besides a few words written in the pages, it's in great condition! Thank you!
5 of 27 people found the following review helpful
BS Supreme 26 Nov. 2007
By track100 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Don't bother. Try thinking for yourself instead of trying to decipher someone else's jumbled thoughts.
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