The Literary Theory Toolkit: A Compendium of Concepts and Methods / Edition 1

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The Literary Theory Toolkit offers readers a rich compendium of key terms, concepts, and arguments necessary for the study of literature in a critical-theoretical context.

  • Includes varied examples drawn from readily available literary texts spanning all periods and genres
  • Features a chapter on performance, something not usually covered in similar texts
  • Covers differing theories of the public sphere, ideology, power, and the social relations necessary for the understanding of approaches to literature
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Rapaport (Wake Forest Univ.) calls this clearly written book "a compendium of major issues and developments in literary criticism and theory" and "a companion to major issues in literary criticism and theory that can be read linearly in terms of units or areas. . . Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above." (Choice, 1 October 2011)

"This is not simply a masterful and lucid introduction to literary theory, but one that explains entertainingly and rigorously how "theory," as it has emerged from a range of disciplines, is relevant to literary study.  In the best tradition of the critical introduction, Rapoport's narrative and organization are provocatively original in their own right."
Eleanor Kauffman, University of California, Los Angeles

"The Literary Theory Toolkit offers an excellent introduction to literary theory, but it is much more than this. Rapaport gives us an extraordinary toolbag for (in his own phrase) rummaging in. Alongside consistently lucid and perceptive accounts of different theorists, movements, concepts and arguments, there is an admirable focus on avant-garde writing and on performance art, as well as a constant concern with the social and political contexts of literary studies. One of the most probing, thought-provoking and original books of its kind, The Literary Theory Toolkit is at once idiosyncratic and authoritative, instructive and exhilarating."
Nicholas Royle, University of Sussex

"The Literary Theory Toolkit offers students, researchers and teachers an extremely clear guide to the myriad complexities of recent literary theory set against a deep historical background. Herman Rapaport is exceptionally thorough and non-partisan. With precise yet economic detail he outlines the many different concepts that theorists have used to explain how texts work, giving careful attention to ways these ideas can work together or may clash; most important of all, he demonstrates how to use them in practice, starting with basic assumptions made explicit, and then proceeding step by step through examples of how these concepts can be shaped into sophisticated arguments and rewarding interpretations. Rapaport is an outstanding educator who never loses sight of his goal: to help students learn to reason about literary texts for themselves, and in doing so to be able to argue both with and against the theorists and theories. The book is full of highly readable worked examples of the interpretation of texts of all kinds, including the sort of texts that are often neglected in literary textbooks, the ones that are tricky to negotiate because opaque, avant-garde, or seeming to rely on extra-textual effects such as performance. This is an essential addition to that small number of guides and reference books that every student of literature will want to own."
Peter Middleton, University of Southampton

"The Literary Theory Toolkit offers students, researchers and teachers an extremely clear guide to the myriad complexities of recent literary theory set against a deep historical background.... This is an essential addition to that small number of guides and reference books that every student of literature will want to own."
Peter Middleton, University of Southampton

"In the quarter century since Terry Eagleton's landmark study, Literary Theory: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1983), there have been dozens of books that aim at achieving a virtually encyclopedic chronicle of the various schools and methods of literary interpretation. Amidst this daunting array of thoughtful meditations on the myriad ways of characterizing the thing called 'literature,' Herman Rapaport's Literary Theory Toolkit presents a strikingly innovative perspective on theory and criticism that combines succinct and accessible accounts of the most significant approaches to the experience of literature with a unique and compelling orientation to both contemporary avant-garde experimental poetics and performance theory. This volume will establish itself as an indispensable resource for anyone interested in contemporary thinking about everything from Saussurean linguistics to Badiou's relation to Derrida to Meryl Streep's style of acting, from Milton's politics to the crisis of thinking about community after the Holocaust. Rapaport's TOOLKIT combines an original reflection on the theoretical act at large with a pedagogically useful and reliable synthesis of the enormous diversity of literary theories over the past century."
Ned Lukacher, University of Illinois at Chicago

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405170475
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 5/17/2011
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 310
  • Sales rank: 781,099
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Herman Rapaport is Reynolds Professor of English, Wake Forest University, North Carolina, USA. He has published several books on aspects of Jacques Derrida's work and is currently doing research in the Derrida archives for a forthcoming project Archival Derrida.
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Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Introductory Tools for Literary Analysis

1.1. Basics

1.2. Common Critical Practices

1.3. Literary Language

1.4. Hermeneutics

1.5. Major 20th Century Schools of Critical Analysis

1.6. Socio-Political Analyses

Chapter 2: Tools for Reading Narrative

2.1. Story and Plot: Fabula and Syuzhet

2.2. Order

2.3. Mimesis/Diegesis

2.4. Free Indirect Discourse

2.5. Interior Monologue

2.6. Diachronic and Synchronic

2.7. Intertextuality

2.8. Dialogism

2.9. Chronotope

2.10. Character Zone

2.11. Focalization

2.12. Narrative Codes

Chapter 3: Tools for Reading Poetry

3.1. Tropes

3.2. Elision

3.3. Resemblance

3.4. Objective Correlative

3.5. Language Poetry

3.6. The New Sentence

3.7. Sound Poetry/Concrete Poetry

3.8. Prosody

Chapter 4: Tools for Analyzing Performance

4.1. Performance Studies

4.2. Realist Theatre: Total Acting

4.3. Konstantin Stanislavski

4.4. Lee Strasberg (The Method), David Mamet (Practical Aesthetics), Mary Overlie (The Six Viewpoints Approach)

4.5. Epic Theatre

4.6. Theater of Cruelty

4.7. Actions

4.8. Play

4.9. Happenings

4.10. Performance Art

4.11. Guerrila Theatre

Chapter 5: Tools for Reading Texts as Systems

5.1. Aristotle and Form

5.2. The Literary Work as Object of Rational Empiricism

5.3. Saussurean Linguistics

5.4. Levi-Strauss and Structuralism

5.5. Roman Jakobson’s Communication Model

5.6. Roland Barthes’ Hierarchical Structures

5.7. Ideality and Phenomenology of the Literary Object: Husserl and Derrida

5.8. Dissemination

5.9. Structure as Rhizome: Deleuze and Guattari

5.10. Permutation

5.11. Undecidability: Derrida, Gödel, Lacan

5.12. Simulating Systems: Baudrillard

5.13. Multiplicity: Badiou

Chapter 6: Tools for Social Analysis

6.1. The Public Sphere

6.2. Ideology

6.3. Theories of Power

6.4. The Social Relation

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  • Posted April 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Collegial Text -- Very Good!

    I have not read, reviewed, or used the Herman Rapaport textbook before a Teaching Sophomore Literature class at Texas A & M in Commerce.The Literary Theory Toolkit is a book I will keep and add to my professional library. I like how the textbook is organized; after the introduction, the author includes specific portions of the book to narratives, poetry, and then performance literature. My AP Literature syllabus that is approved by the College Board and has 4 quarters of instruction – narratives, poetry, and then drama. We finish the year with a review of the specific genres and prepare for the AP test. The book goes well with what I do. I specifically like the use of literary references to illustrate the points. The academic vocabulary is a challenge, but it provides us with the opportunity to learn – I have not used the word “syuzhet” before (as an example), but after reading the text, I now know that “syuzhet” is “the order of narrated events” – in class I could add this to our high school literary “word wall” – this may seem like a small thing to the doctoral students, but I teach high school, and this book is a valuable addition to my professional library. If some students did not like it, I would presume that it may be because the text will take the reader out of their comfort zone if they are not accustomed to Herman Rapaport and his writing style.

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