Theory's Empire: An Anthology of Dissent / Edition 1

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Not too long ago, literary theorists were writing about the death of the novel and the death of the author; today many are talking about the death of Theory. Theory, as the many theoretical ism's (among them postcolonialism, postmodernism, and New Historicism) are now known, once seemed so exciting but has become ossified and insular. This iconoclastic collection is an excellent companion to current anthologies of literary theory, which have embraced an uncritical stance toward Theory and its practitioners. Written by nearly fifty prominent scholars, the essays in Theory's Empire question the ideas, catchphrases, and excesses that have let Theory congeal into a predictable orthodoxy. More than just a critique, however, this collection provides readers with effective tools to redeem the study of literature, restore reason to our intellectual life, and redefine the role and place of Theory in the academy.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

National Review
Clearly, this is not your father's textbook; it's closer to The Norton Anthology of Screw-the Academy

— Michael Potemra

Wall Street Journal
A sign that things may be changing...its 47 contributors patiently dissect all aspects of theory.

— James Seaton

Chronicle of Higher Education
Theory's Empire is important because it shows that the opposition to theory is not just the preserve of intellectual lightweights.

— William Pannapacker


This is a valuable book for scholars and for those encountering literary theory for the first time... Recommended.

Times Literary Supplement
Theory's Empire is a unique documentation of an intellectual deformation that still affects the way literature is studied.

— Brian Vickers, A 2005 Book of the Year

Common Review
Patai and Corral waste no time and pull no punches.

— Michael Berube

Modern Language Notes
Theory's Empire offers a powerful retrospective on the rise of "Theory" in the American academy.

— Sara Castro-Klaren

Thomas Pavel

This is a splendid anthology that evaluates, puts into perspective and thoughtfully criticizes contemporary literary and cultural theory. A welcome alternative to dogmatic thought, this book is designed to generate a lively debate. A must for every serious student of literature and culture.

Jon Erickson

Patai and Corral's Theory's Empire represents the invigorating leading edge of a new diversity of thought in the academy, the vision of a healthy skeptical approach to what has become theoretical orthodoxy and dogmatism.

Mary Lefkowitz

If you never quite believed that thought is the same as action, that fact is irrelevant, that declaration amounts to proof, or that cultures rather than individuals compose works of art, you will discover in Theory's Empire why you are neither deluded nor delusional. Theories may help scholarship seem relevant, but they are no substitute for empirical evidence, logical argument, and plain old common sense.

National Review - Michael Potemra

Clearly, this is not your father's textbook; it's closer to The Norton Anthology of Screw-the Academy

Wall Street Journal - James Seaton

A sign that things may be changing...its 47 contributors patiently dissect all aspects of theory.

Chronicle of Higher Education - William Pannapacker

Theory's Empire is important because it shows that the opposition to theory is not just the preserve of intellectual lightweights.

Times Literary Supplement - Brian Vickers

Theory's Empire is a unique documentation of an intellectual deformation that still affects the way literature is studied.

Common Review - Michael Berube

Patai and Corral waste no time and pull no punches.

Modern Language Notes - Sara Castro-Klaren

Theory's Empire offers a powerful retrospective on the rise of "Theory" in the American academy.

Library Journal
In this anthology, the term Theory is shorthand for any of the many theories of literary interpretation that arose in the latter 20th century and that now "matter more than the literature it once interpreted." Patai (Brazilian literature & literary theory, Univ. of Massachusetts) and Corral (Spanish American literature, California State Univ., Sacramento) intend this work as a shot across the bow of The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, which codified the "textual harassment" that passes for current literary criticism. With articles not included in the Norton volume and a few of more recent vintage, this "back to basics" anthology traces the rise of Theory, how it negates literary meaning, and how the overthrow of its autocratic hold on literary scholarship might begin. Although most of the signed articles are available in journals, this is worth having just for its superb introductions, guaranteed to stir every reader dejected by deconstructionism. Although a tad pricey, this is recommended for general and specialized collections and as a supplement to textbooks and reading lists.-Shelley Cox, emerita, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231134170
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 4/13/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 736
  • Sales rank: 1,460,163
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Daphne Patai is professor of Brazilian literature and literary theory at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of a number of books on literature, utopian studies, and the culture wars, most recently Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women's Studies, Revised Edition (with Noretta Koertge).

Will H. Corral teaches Spanish American literature and culture at California State University, Sacramento. He is the author or editor of several books in Spanish, the most recent of which is El error del acierto (contra ciertos dogmas latinoamericanistas); he lives in Davis, California.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Part I. Theory Rising Introduction1. Theory, What Theory?, by Valentine Cunningham2. Destroying Literary Studies, by Rene Wellek3. Traveling Through American Criticism, by Tzvetan Todorov4. The Rise and Fall of "Practical Criticism": From I. A. Richards to Barthes and Derrida, by Morris Dickstein5. The Power and Limits of Literary Theory, by Richard Freadman and Seumas Miller6. Is Theory to Blame?, by John M. Ellis7. Theory, Theories, and Principles, by Denis DonoghuePart II. Linguistic Turns Introduction8. The Linguistic Unconscious: Saussure and the Post-Saussureans, by Raymond Tallis9. Literary Theory and Its Discontents, by John R. Searle10. The Quandaries of the Referent, by Vincent Descombes11. The Great Dichotomy, by Wendell V. Harris12. The Deconstructive Angel, by M. H. AbramsPart III. Empire Building Introduction13. The Grand Academy of Theory, by Frederick Crews14. Theorrhea and Kulturkritik, by J. G. Merquior15. Masters and Demons, by Brian Vickers16. The Debate Over the Wartime Writings of Paul de Man: The Language of Setting the Record Straight, by Alan B. Spitzer17. Presentism: Postmodernism, Poststructuralism, Postcolonialism, by Graham Good18. Preface for a Post-Postcolonial Criticism, by Erin O'ConnorPart IV. Theory as a Profession Introduction19. Author! Author! Reconstructing Roland Barthes, by Clara Claiborne Park20. The French Intellectual Habitus and Literary Culture, by Niilo Kauppi21. Social Constructionism: Philosophy for the Academic Workplace, by Mark Bauerlein22. Bad Writing, by D. G. Myers23. Everyman an ?bermensch: The Culture of Cultural Studies, by Stephen Adam Schwartz24. The End of Theory, the Rise of the Profession: A Rant in Search of Responses, by Geoffrey Galt HarphamPart V. Identities Introduction25. The Cant of Identity, by Todd Gitlin26. The Gender Fallacy, by William C. Dowling27. Feminism's Perverse Effects, by Elaine Marks28. Queer Theory, Literature, and the Sexualization of Everything: The Gay Science, by Lee Siegel29. Battle of the Bien-Pensant, by K. Anthony AppiahPart VI. Theory as Surrogate Politics Introduction30. Oppositional Opposition, by Harold Fromm31. Silence Is Consent, or Curse Ye Meroz!, by Richard Levin32. Criticism as Displacement, by Jeffrey Wallen33. Thick Aestheticism and Thin Nativism, by Russell Jacoby34. Casualties of the Culture Wars, by Eugene GoodheartPart VII. Restoring Reason Introduction35. Rationality/Science, by Noam Chomsky36. The Furor Over Impostures Intellectuelles: What Is All the Fuss About?, by Jean Bricmont and Alan Sokal37. The Sleep of Reason, by Thomas Nagel38. Staying for an Answer: The Untidy Process of Groping for Truth, by Susan Haack39. What Is Social Construction?, by Paul A. Boghossian40. Postcolonial Science Studies: Ending "Epistemic Violence", by Meera NandaPart VIII. Still Reading After All These Theories... Introduction41. Literature and Theory: Notes on the Research Programs of the 1980s, by David Bromwich42. Changing Epochs, by Frank Kermode43. Making Knowledge: Bioepistemology and the Foundations of Literary Theory, by Nancy Easterlin44. Literature and Fiction, by Peter Lamarque and Stein Haugom Olsen45. Literary Aesthetics and the Aims of Criticism, by Paisley Livingston46. Crisis in the Humanities? Reconfiguring Literary Study for the Twenty-first Century, by Marjorie PerloffCodaIntroduction47. A Hippocratic Oath for the Pluralist, by Wayne C. Booth

Columbia University Press

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