Overview


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. ...

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Theory's Empire: An Anthology of Dissent

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Overview


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.

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Editorial Reviews

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.
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.

Choice

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

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

Choice

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231508698
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 6/5/2005
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 736
  • File size: 2 MB

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.

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Table of Contents

1 Theory, what theory? 24
2 Destroying literary studies 41
3 Traveling through American criticism 52
4 The rise and fall of "practical" criticism : from I. A. Richards to Barthes and Derrida 60
5 The power and limits of literary theory 78
6 Is theory to blame? 92
7 Theory, theories, and principles 109
8 The linguistic unconscious : Saussure and the post-Saussureans 125
9 Literary theory and its discontents 147
10 The quandaries of the referent 176
11 The great dichotomy 190
12 The deconstructive angel 199
13 The grand academy of theory 218
14 Theorrhea and kulturkritik 234
15 Masters and demons 247
16 The debate over the wartime writings of Paul de Man : the language of setting the record straight 271
17 Presentism : postmodernism, poststructuralism, postcolonialism 287
18 Preface for a post-postcolonial criticism 297
19 Author! author! : reconstructing Roland Barthes 318
20 The French intellectual habitus and literary culture 330
21 Social constructionism : philosophy for the academic workplace 341
22 Bad writing 354
23 Everyman an ubermensch : the culture of cultural studies 360
24 The end of theory, the rise of the profession : a rant in search of responses 381
25 The cant of identity 400
26 The gender fallacy 411
27 Feminism's perverse effects 419
28 Queer theory, literature, and the sexualization of everything : the gay science 424
29 Battle of the Bien-Pensant 441
30 Oppositional opposition 454
31 Silence is consent, or curse ye Meroz! 458
32 Criticism as displacement 476
33 Thick aestheticism and thin nativism 490
34 Casualties of the culture wars 508
35 Rationality/science 528
36 The furor over Impostures Intellectuelles : what is all the fuss about? 537
37 The sleep of reason 541
38 Staying for an answer : the untidy process of groping for truth 552
39 What is social construction? 562
40 Postcolonial science studies : ending "epistemic violence" 575
41 Literature and theory : notes on the research programs of the 1980s 590
42 Changing epochs 605
43 Making knowledge : bioepistemology and the foundations of literary theory 621
44 Literature and fiction 636
45 Literary aesthetics and the aims of criticism 651
46 Crisis in the humanities? : reconfiguring literary study for the twenty-first century 668
47 A Hippocratic oath for the pluralist 688
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