Literary Theory: An Anthology (Blackwell Anthologies) Paperback – 11 Jun 2004
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From the Back Cover
Literary Theory: An Anthology is a definitive collection of classic and contemporary statements in the field of literary theory and criticism. It is an invaluable resource for students who wish to familiarize themselves with the most recent developments in literary theory and with the traditions from which these new theories are derived.
The anthology represents all the major schools and methods that make up the dynamic field of literary theory. It contains classic texts from a range of movements, including Formalism, Structuralism, Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Deconstruction, Historicism, and Feminism, and incorporates cutting–edge work by leading theoreticians in the fields of Postmodernism, Cultural Studies, Post–colonialism, Gay and Lesbian studies, and Ethnic Studies. For the second edition, the content has been updated to include the most recent influential texts, particularly in the areas of Ethnic Studies, Transnational Studies, and Cultural Studies.
About the Author
Julie Rivkin is Professor at Connecticut College, where she teaches courses in American Literature, Contemporary Women Writers, and Literary Theory. She is the author of False Positions: The Representational Logics of Henry James′s Fiction (1996).
Michael Ryan is Professor of English at Northeastern University, where he teaches courses in American Literature and Culture, American Film, and Literary Theory.
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My tutor told me that the reason she set this text is so that we could become involved in the original writing that forms what we know as theory today. Instead of reading other academics interpretations and explanations of what a theory is, we were able to go back to the roots, and start to understand the theory ourselves.
What this book has enabled me to do is to become acquainted with these theorists, and use what they wrote in every aspect of my academic work. My grades have jumped the last hurdle into consistent A's because of this book. I can use theorist's original ideas and create my own interpretations of the texts, instead of having to rely solely on other academics theoretical translations
I absolutely believe that this text is essential to any serious literature under- and post- graduate. I say serious student, because there is no hiding the fact that these essays are tough going, and take a lot of time to assimilate into your own understanding. It is however worth all the effort.
(There is also a book called Literary Theory- An Introduction which accompanies this anthology. Personally, I believe that it is frankly, a useless book that offers nothing more than a confused and often over simplified notion of the theories. Thus taking the magic of the anthology away)
While some of the language is heavy going it will give you a firm grasp of literary theories, so its brilliant when you're trying to write essays. Definitely worth the money!
Rivkin and Ryan have created a great selection, structured into sections which is very given that the book is over a thousand pages. Each sections contains material by several influential authors, such as Foucault, Roland Barthes, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, Hélène Cixous, Lyotard, Baudrillard, Freud, Lacan, Hegel, Marx, Bakhtin, Althusser, Judith Butler, Gilbert and Gubar, Edward Said, Bhabha. These are only some of the well-known critics - both historical and contemporary - whose names are familiar to many.
Each essay (taken often from larger works) have been provided with a very helpful introduction to provide the necessary vocabulary and arguments needed to understand the relevant essay.
Another reviewer said that the book is only useful as an introduction and I have to say I agree. The scope of the book does not allow for a large scope on one section in particular. But anthologies often provide texts only partially. If you're interested in Post-modernism or feminism, find a Post-modernist or feminist anthology. As a student, not knowing what topic I'd end up researching in more detail, I found this a good starting point for seminars. And when I found I wanted to continue reading more, I'd look for the author's complete work in the university library. It is still better than spending a lot of money on all these authors' work separately.
Some authors are hard to read, others have theories that are hard to get your head around, but they are one thing: they are all extremely important for any given literary student and I plan on holding on to my copy even after graduation.
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