Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler


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Is there a relationship between literature and culture?

Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction Summary & Study Guide

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. Not other bloody novels! But you know, as well as being about stuff, novels etc are about — i.

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So yes, intertextuality is TRUE. That's just one example - amongs many.

Literary Theory: An Introduction #1 UGC NET English Literature

Oh yes, many. This is a rocking little introduction to a formidable subject. Recommended to SOME of you! View all 10 comments. Mar 08, Riku Sayuj rated it it was ok Shelves: history-of-thought , marx , lit-crit , literary-theory , vsis.

Endangered Theory! Culler sets out trying to define literature and theory, but soon degenerates into a comparison of literary studies and culture studies. In fact except for Foucault and Derrida no literary theorists are given more than a couple of paragraphs worth of space. This was an interesting exercise. And it ends with what I fel Endangered Theory! And it ends with what I felt was a very poignant message: A Theory can only, at best, be a tool. Theory provides no answers, no final way of looking at literature, only avenues for thinking.


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Theory, then, offers not a set of solutions but the prospect of further thought. It calls for commitment to the work of reading, of challenging presuppositions, of questioning the assumptions on which you proceed. I began by saying that theory was endless — an unbounded corpus of challenging and fascinating writings — but not just more writings: it is also an ongoing project of thinking which does not end when a very short introduction ends. But of course, after the VSI ends, we are left with the uncomfortable fact that it did not really introduce what it was supposed to!


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  • It was almost funny. All in all, a pretty loose book — the author is worried for the field of literary theory and spends his time sharing his concerns with us. Now, this could work. View all 17 comments. Apr 16, Mattia Ravasi rated it it was amazing. Feb 18, Aaron rated it really liked it. This book was my first in the "Very Short Introduction" series, and I picked one in a field where I had a little bit of background. Where I went to college it was impossible to take a humanities class and not have someone mention Foucault or Althusser. Reading this book, I couldn't help but wish I had it back then, for while every professor loved to spout critical theory, the acting assumption was that This book was my first in the "Very Short Introduction" series, and I picked one in a field where I had a little bit of background.

    Reading this book, I couldn't help but wish I had it back then, for while every professor loved to spout critical theory, the acting assumption was that everyone in the class knew what they were talking about, and as a freshman from the Midwest, I most certainly did not. While I eventually toiled to form a solid framework about these ideas, it was never quite as elegantly structured and argot-free as what Culler puts down here.

    The book clearly has its limits -- as it claims: it is merely an introduction causing it to give only a cursory overview of even the biggest name's in the field.

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    Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction

    Also, it's ten years old, and I'm sure that causes it to miss some of the major things happening in academia at the moment. Lastly, while a minor point, my blood boiled and cartoon-esque steam shot from my ears when I read "A good deal of the hostility to [literary:] theory no doubt comes from the fact that to admit the importance of theory is to make an open-ended commitment, to leave yourself in a position where there are always important things you don't know. I can think of a panoply of alternate reasons why there is hostility to literary theory: writing that prefers to obfuscate rather than clarify Jameson , a total lack of rigor the Sokal hoax , and a frustrating combination of advancing an epistemology that undercuts any claims that they are working towards something "real" while simultaneously positioning their work on the highest of moral ground Marcuse.

    I'd appreciate it if Culler didn't make it seem like the reason I never stuck with critical theory was simply laziness on my part. Rant aside, if you ever find yourself in intellectual settings where Foucault is getting name checked and you don't know what they are saying, get this book. I loved that Culler organized the work thematically rather than by critical schools.

    Given that many of the best theorists overlap in many fields--is Judith Butler a psychoanalyst or feminist? After all, poststructuralism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis tend to do much the same thing in a theoretical context: they all call 'the natural' of language, of the state and I loved that Culler organized the work thematically rather than by critical schools.

    After all, poststructuralism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis tend to do much the same thing in a theoretical context: they all call 'the natural' of language, of the state and economics, of the personality into question and thereby transform the self into subject. That denaturalization is the key difference from what came before, not the differences between, say, a politically informed and a merely linguistic poststructuralism.

    Moreover, even though it originally appeared about 10 years ago, its refusal to split theory into various schools preserved it from obsolescence. The pure Lacanian died out in or so, and now the best critics draw on everything. Highly recommended. This is probably the one I'll assign.

    Nov 19, Jihm rated it liked it. Take it in increments. It covers the broadest topics of literary theory in a very thorough treatment that makes it cumbersome at times. Wisely, the author chose to write short chapters. I could see turning to this book to gather launch points for future literature papers. However, the author seems to have the wrong audience in mind.

    The vocabulary and sentence structure is rather stilted and the prose reads more like a philosophical treatise than an introductory text. Had I been a freshman in an Take it in increments.

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    Had I been a freshman in an English program at the time of reading this book, I would not have found it very helpful at all. A text that covers the fundamentals of a discipline should be written in the interest of clear presentation and not be a showcase of erudition. Nov 17, Bibliomantic rated it it was amazing Shelves: very-short-introductions. Among the Very Short Introductions, I count this one as one of the best entries. Culler is obviously very comfortable in the topic, and he reads in the way that makes me think his lectures at Cornell, from wha Among the Very Short Introductions, I count this one as one of the best entries.

    Culler is obviously very comfortable in the topic, and he reads in the way that makes me think his lectures at Cornell, from what I gather at Wiki are a pleasure to attend. Why does literary theory seem to be based so little things to do with literature? Why is Saussure so elemental? How did all of this evolve from Russian formalism to post-structuralism and beyond? Culler gives good brief answers without oversimplifying the arguments to accommodate length.

    May 24, Katia N rated it it was amazing Shelves: very-short-intro. I've recently discovered Oxford's "A Very Short Introduction" books and find them very helpful and really well written. That is assuming one does not know much about the subject of course. This one is particularly enjoyable. It starts with discussing what is the theory within the context of humanities; moves towards the overlap between the literary theory and the cultural studies; talks a bit about the linguistics within the context of literature and then moves on towards the types of the literar I've recently discovered Oxford's "A Very Short Introduction" books and find them very helpful and really well written.

    It starts with discussing what is the theory within the context of humanities; moves towards the overlap between the literary theory and the cultural studies; talks a bit about the linguistics within the context of literature and then moves on towards the types of the literary analysis. It reads like a literary detective! But two warnings: 1 understandably, people who know a lot in those areas or have some preconceptions about the subject might not find it informative; 2 if you do not like reading about the post-structuralism and yes lots, of French names here , you might not enjoy it as much as i did.

    View all 4 comments. Apr 05, Jafar Isbarov rated it really liked it Shelves: read-in-english.

    Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler
    Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler
    Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler
    Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler
    Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler
    Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler
    Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler
    Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler
    Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler Lesson Plan Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler

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