The Literary Theory Handbook


The Literary Theory Handbook introduces students to the history and scope of literary theory, showing them how to perform literary analysis, and providing a greater understanding of the historical contexts for different theories.

  • A new edition of this highly successful text, which includes updated and refined chapters, and new sections on contemporary theories
  • Far reaching in its inclusion of a detailed ...
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The Literary Theory Handbook introduces students to the history and scope of literary theory, showing them how to perform literary analysis, and providing a greater understanding of the historical contexts for different theories.

  • A new edition of this highly successful text, which includes updated and refined chapters, and new sections on contemporary theories
  • Far reaching in its inclusion of a detailed history of theory and in-depth discussions of major theories and movements
  • Four distinct perspectives on theory—historical, thematic, biographical, practical—are carefully intertwined, so that key concepts, terms and ideas are developed in different contexts and cross-referenced, in the text and in the index.
  • Includes alphabetically-arranged biographies designed for quick reference, and sample readings to illustrate the practical application of theory
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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
“Gregory Castle's Literary Theory Handbook brings his account of theory up to the minute, practically, incorporating—and relating to one another—the most significant developments in literary and cultural theory of the twenty-first century (cognitive theory, the new materialism, disability studies, ecocriticism and animal studies). Castle does justice to the complexity of the issues he covers (his handling of deconstruction and Lacanian psychoanalytic theory is admirable), and one has to marvel at both the impartiality of his account and the lucidity of his writing, with a clear sense throughout of his audience and of what needs to be said.”—David Richter, CUNY

"Comprehensive and clear, Castle's Handbook is essential for students seeking accessible and thorough summaries of all of the schools of contemporary critical thought and analysis. Each chapter covers a lot of material, and each is beautifully written."—Michael Ryan, Temple University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470671955
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 8/5/2013
  • Series: Blackwell Literature Handbooks Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 438
  • Sales rank: 982,999
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory Castle is a professor of British and Irish literature at Arizona State University. He is author of Modernism and the Celtic Revival (2001), Reading the Modernist Bildungsroman (2006), and The Blackwell Guide to Literary Theory (2007) and has edited Postcolonial Discourses (2000) and the Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory, vol. 1 (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011). He has also published numerous essays on Joyce, Yeats, Wilde, and other Irish writers.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments x

Alphabetical Listing of Key Movements and Theories xii

Introduction 1

The Nature of Literary Theory 2

What is Literature? 4

The Practice of Theory 8

How To Use the Handbook 9

1 The Rise of Literary Theory 11

Early Developments in Literary Theory 12

Modernism and Formalism, 1890s–1940s 18

Cultural and Critical Theory, 1930s–1960s 24

The Poststructuralist Turn, 1960s–1970s 27

Culture, Gender, and History, 1980s–1990s 33

Postmodernism and Post-Marxism, 1980s–2000s 39

Posthumanism: Theory at the Fin de Siècle 44

Conclusion 47

2 The Scope of Literary Theory 51

1 Form/Structure/Narrative/Genre 52

Formalism and Structuralism 52

New Criticism 59

Chicago School Neo-Aristotelian Theory 63

Narrative Theory/Narratology 68

Theory of the Novel 75

2 Ideology/Philosophy/History/Aesthetics 84

Marxist Theory 84

Critical Theory 91

Post-Marxist Theory 101

New Historicism/Cultural Poetics 119

Postmodernism 125

3 Language/Systems/Texts/Readers 142

Phenomenology and Hermeneutics 142

Reader-Response Theory 153

Deconstruction 160

Poststructuralism 167

4 Mind/Body/Gender/Identity 178

Psychoanalysis 178

Feminist Theory 190

Gender Studies 198

Gay and Lesbian Studies 204

Trauma Studies 209

5 Culture/Ethnicities/Nations/Locations 218

Cultural Studies 218

African American Studies 225

Ethnic and Indigenous Studies 231

Chicano/a Studies 232

Native and Indigenous Studies 235

Asian American Studies 237

Postcolonial Studies 242

Transnationalism 254

6 People/Places/Bodies/Things 266

Posthumanism 266

Evolutionary Literary Theory 278

Object-Oriented Ontologies 283

Disability Studies 290

Ecocriticism 298

3 Key Figures in Literary Theory 313

Theodor Adorno (1903–69) 313

Giorgio Agamben (1942– ) 314

Louis Althusser (1918–90) 315

Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin (1895–1975) 316

Roland Barthes (1915–80) 317

Jean Baudrillard (1929–2007) 318

Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) 319

Homi Bhabha (1949– ) 320

Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002) 321

Lawrence Buell (1939– ) 322

Judith Butler (1956– ) 323

Hélène Cixous (1937– ) 324

Lennard Davis (1949– ) 324

Teresa de Lauretis (1939– ) 325

Gilles Deleuze (1925–95) and Félix Guattari (1930–92) 326

Paul de Man (1919–83) 327

Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) 328

Terry Eagleton (1943– ) 330

Frantz Fanon (1925–61) 330

Stanley Fish (1938– ) 331

Michel Foucault (1926–84) 332

Henry Louis Gates (1950– ) 333

Sandra Gilbert (1936– ) and Susan Gubar (1944– ) 334

Stephen Greenblatt (1943– ) 335

Elizabeth Grosz (1952– ) 336

Stuart Hall (1932– ) 337

Donna Haraway (1944– ) 338

N. Katherine Hayles (1943– ) 339

bell hooks (1952– ) 340

Luce Irigaray (1930– ) 341

Wolfgang Iser (1926–2007) 342

Fredric Jameson (1934– ) 343

Julia Kristeva (1941– ) 344

Jacques Lacan (1901–81) 345

Bruno Latour (1947– ) 346

Jean-François Lyotard (1924–98) 348

J. Hillis Miller (1928– ) 349

Antonio Negri (1933– ) 350

Jacques Rancière (1940– ) 351

Edward Said (1935–2003) 352

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (1950–2009) 353

Elaine Showalter (1941– ) 354

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1942– ) 355

Raymond Williams (1921–88) 356

Cary Wolfe (1959– ) 358

Slavoj Žižek (1949– ) 358

4 Reading with Literary Theory 361

William Shakespeare, The Tempest 362

John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” 364

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea 366

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart 370

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse 374

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God 376

Samuel Beckett, Endgame 378

Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children 380

Recommendations for Further Reading 383

Glossary 392

Index 412

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