Theory's Empire: An Anthology of Dissent

Theory's Empire: An Anthology of Dissent

by Daphne Patai
     
 

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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

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.

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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231508698
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
06/05/2005
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
736
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

David Denby

Theory's Empiregathers together the work of many scholars and critics into a multi-faceted but coherent defense of literature, and of the many intellectual and temperamental habits that must accompany that defense-a belief in judgment and in literature's moral significance, and, most happily of all, a proud assertion of the love that dare not speak its name in university literature courses, the love of art. One hopes that future generations of students, wondering why they should study literature in the first place, will take strength from this volume.

Mario Vargas Llosa

Theory's Empire is a magnificent collection of essays that returns sanity and rationality to literary criticism, rescuing it from the esotericism, jargon and delusions under which it had been buried by the "theorizers." An indispensable book for lovers of genuine literature and criticism!

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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