Literary Theory and Criticism

This volume offers a comprehensive account of modern literary criticism, presenting the field as part of an ongoing historical and intellectual tradition. Featuring thirty-nine specially commissioned chapters from an international team of esteemed contributors, it fills a large gap in the market by combining the accessibility of single-authored selections with a wide range of critical perspectives. The volume is divided into four parts. Part One covers the key philosophical and aesthetic origins of literary theory, while Part Two discusses the foundational movements and thinkers in the first half of the twentieth century. Part Three offers introductory overviews of the most important movements and thinkers in modern literary theory, and Part Four looks at emergent trends and future directions.

Writing Women’s Literary History

By championing the recovery of “lost” women writers and insisting on reevaluating the past, women’s studies and feminist theory have effected dramatic changes in the ways English literary history is written and taught. In Writing Women’s Literary History, Margaret Ezell critically examines these successful women’s literary histories and applies to them the same self-conscious feminism that critics have applied to more traditional methods. According to Ezell, by relying not only on past male scholarship but also on inherited notions of “tradition,” some feminist historicists replicate the evolutionary, narrative model of history that originally marginalized women who wrote before 1700. Drawing both on French feminisms and on recent historicist scholarship, Ezell points us to new possibilities for the recovery of early modern women’s literary history.

The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism: Volume 3, The Renaissance

This 1999 volume was the first to explore as part of an unbroken continuum the critical legacy both of the humanist rediscovery of ancient learning and of its neoclassical reformulation. Focused on what is arguably the most complex phase in the transmission of the Western literary-critical heritage, the book encompasses those issues that helped shape the way European writers thought about literature from the late Middle Ages to the late seventeenth century. These issues touched almost every facet of Western intellectual endeavour, as well as the historical, cultural, social, scientific, and technological contexts in which that activity evolved. From the interpretative reassessment of the major ancient poetic texts, this volume addresses the emergence of the literary critic in Europe by exploring poetics, prose fiction, contexts of criticism, neoclassicism, and national developments. Sixty-one chapters by internationally respected scholars are supported by an introduction, detailed bibliographies for further investigation and a full index.

Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction

What is literary theory? Is there a relationship between literature and culture? In fact, what is literature, and does it matter? These are some of questions addressed by Jonathan Culler in this Very Short Introduction to literary theory. Often a controversial subject, said to have transformed the study of culture and society in the past two decades, literary theory is accused of undermining respect for tradition and truth and encouraging suspicion about the political and psychological implications of cultural projects rather than admiration for great literature. Here, Jonathan Culler explains ‘theory’, not by describing warring ‘schools’ but by sketching key ‘moves’ theory has encouraged, and speaking directly about the implications of theory for thinking about literature, human identity, and the power of language. In this new edition Culler takes a look at new material, including the ‘death of theory’, the links between the theory of narrative and cognitive science, trauma theory, ecocriticism, and includes a new chapter on ‘Ethics and aesthetics’. This lucid introduction is useful for anyone who has wondered what all the fuss is about or who wants to think about literature today. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Literary Work of Art

This long-awaited translation of Das literarische Kunstwerk makes available for the first time in English Roman Ingarden’s influential study. Though it is inter-disciplinary in scope, situated as it is on the borderlines of ontology and logic, philosophy of literature and theory of language, Ingarden’s work has a deliberately narrow focus: the literary work, its structure and mode of existence.

The Literary Word of Art establishes the groundwork for a philosophy of literature, i.e., an ontology in terms of which the basic general structure of all lliterary works can be determined. This “essential anatomy” makes basic tools and concepts available for rigorous and subtle aesthetic analysis.

Literary Theory

What is literary theory? Is there a relationship between literature and culture? In fact, what is literature…and does it matter? These are the kinds of questions Jonathan Culler addresses, and he illuminates a subject often perceived as impenetrable. In addition to outlining the ideas behind various schools (including deconstruction, semiotics, structuralism, and post-colonialism), he offers insights into theories about the nature of language, meaning, interpretation, poetics, rhetoric, narrative, and readership.


Possible Worlds in Literary Theory

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.

Literary Theory

A quarter of a century on from its original publication, Literary Theory: An Introduction still conjures the subversion, excitement and exoticism that characterized theory through the 1960s and 70s, when it posed an unprecedented challenge to the literary establishment. Eagleton has added a new preface to this anniversary edition to address more recent developments in literary studies, including what he describes as “the growth of a kind of anti-theory”, and the idea that literary theory has been institutionalized. Insightful and enlightening, Literary Theory: An Introduction remains the essential guide to the field.

  • 25th Anniversary Edition of Terry Eagleton’s classic introduction to literary theory
  • First published in 1983, and revised in 1996 to include material on developments in feminist and cultural theory
  • Has served as an inspiration to generations of students and teachers
  • Continues to function as arguably the definitive undergraduate textbook on literary theory
  • Reissue includes a new foreword by Eagleton himself, reflecting on the impact and enduring success of the book, and on developments in literary theory since it was first published