The Complete Idiot's Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism

by Steven J. Venturino PhD


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781615642410
Publisher: DK
Publication date: 03/05/2013
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 398,845
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Steven J. Venturino, PhD, is an award-winning educator and an internationally recognized literary theorist who has taught literary theory courses to both undergraduates and graduate students, in addition to teaching Victorian literature, the modern novel, and introductory courses in fiction and film. He was recognized as Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year (2012) by Loyola University Chicago's chapter of the Sigma Tau Delta National English Honor Society. Steven has published several essays for specialists, as well as general academic readers, and has edited a volume of conference proceedings, working with an international cohort of contributors, editors, and publishers.

Table of Contents

Part 1 Basic Ingredients and Useful Terms 1

1 It's Just a Theory 3

You Can't Help It 4

So Which Is It, Theory or Criticism? 5

Getting Some Perspective 5

Suspicious Minds 6

Do Writers Know All This Stuff? 7

Stick to the Script 8

Real Worlds and Real Words 9

2 What's the Word for That, Again? 11

Two Sides of the Coin 11

Theme 12

Form 13

Order, Please 14

Plot 14

Motif 15

Who Are These People? 16

Narrators 16

Characterization 19

Writers Love Details 20

Imagery 21

Figurative Language 22

Part 2 In Theory, How Do You Read? 25

3 New Criticism Looks Very Closely 27

Everything Fits Together 28

Buy Organic 28

Can't I Just Read? 29

In Other Words, There Are No Other Words 29

Reading Closely for What? 30

There's a Pattern Here 31

No, You're Not Reading Too Much Into It 32

Ironic, Isn't It? 33

What's Wrong with "Old" Criticism? 34

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings 35

Did the Author Really Mean That? 35

Everyone's a Critic 36

Who Begs to Differ? 37

4 Russian Formalism Fixates on the Machinery 39

Look At the Text, Not Through It 40

Not Content with Form and Content 40

A Scientific Basis for Literary Study 41

Why Did They Do This? 42

It's What Art Really Is 42

Habit Dulls Our Perception 43

Make the Ordinary Strange 44

Make the Artistry Obvious 46

Revealing the Tricks 46

Plot vs. Story-Stuff 49

Literary History Is the Interplay of Form 50

5 Reader-Response Criticism Watches Itself 53

In the Eye of the Beholder 53

Making It Up as You Go Along 54

Show Your Work 55

Draw a Blank 56

Crack the Code 58

Making You Up as It Goes Along 60

"You" Are There 60

Group Dynamics 61

Getting Real 62

Regaining Consciousness 62

6 Aristotle and Friends Plot the Course 65

Reading for Fun and (Intellectual) Profit 66

Delightful Instruction 67

Get It Out of Your System, or Not 68

Mime in a Box 70

Plot Changes Everything 71

The Rules of the Game 72

One Ring to Rule Them All 73

They're Just Guidelines, Really 75

Part 3 What Is Literature, Anyway? 77

7 Plato's Fundamental Gripe Against Literature 79

What's the Big Idea Here? 80

Me and My Shadows 80

A True Original 83

Cheat Sheets 84

Writers Blocked 86

Bad Influence 86

Madness and Magnets 87

Famous Platonic Relationships 89

8 The Romantics Get Defensive 91

Plato II: Revenge of the Poets 93

A Sincere Apology 94

It's Just My Nature 95

Wordsworth's Emotional Rescue 97

Coleridge's Fevered Imagination 100

Keats and Beautiful Truthiness 102

Shelley Gets Played Like a Harp 104

9 Marx Sees Through the Material World 109

Immersed in the System 110

Alma Mater-ialism 111

Let's Simplify Things 112

Living the Dream 113

Wake Up and Smell the Ideology 114

Get Real 115

Shocking Audiences Worldwide 117

Return of the Repressed 119

10 Freud Sees a Symptom 121

Thinking Big 121

What Do You Have in Mind? 123

Dream Weaving 126

Literature on the Couch 129

Must Be About Sex 131

Unless It's About Death 133

11 Saussure and Science Settle Into a Good Read 135

Must Be a Sign 136

Adding Some Structure 138

Just a Slice, Please 138

It's Your Move 139

Stop in for Great Values 141

Everybody Gets in On the Act 143

It's All in Your Head 145

Part 4 Hey, Whose Book Is This? 149

12 Feminist Theories Change the Game 151

Is This Pedestal High Enough for You? 152

Particularly Universal 152

It's Only Natural, Isn't It? 154

Girl, That Rochester Is Bad News 156

Diving Into the Stereotypists' Pool 158

Writing Circles Around You 160

Evolving Phases 161

Body Works 162

What Do You Mean, "We"? 162

13 Gender and Queer Theories Read Desire 165

Tending Gender 166

Typecasting Sexuality 168

Pride Fest 170

Beyond Stonewall 170

Lesbian Revisions 172

It's Showtime! 174

Beyond Gay and Straight 175

14 Ethnic Studies Changes the Key 179

Are You What You Read? 179

National Sensations 180

Please Check One of the Boxes 181

American Autograph 182

Write Makes Might 183

Modern Subjects 186

Theory Turns 188

Reading Like a Writer 189

Well, That Figures 190

Borders and Belongings 192

15 Disability Studies Gets Physical 195

Social Ills 196

Marked Bodies 197

Stormin' Normin' 199

Posing Gender 201

Book It 203

Learn on Me 203

I See What You Mean 204

Thinking Otherwise 206

Aud, Isn't It? 207

Part 5 Try to Watch Your Language 211

16 Structuralism Senses a Pattern Here 213

Patterns and Rules 214

Not What It Means, but How Does It Mean? 215

Oh That Old Chestnut (or, Why So Grimm?) 216

Working the Story 217

Logical Tools 217

Jung at Art (or, Swingin' a Myth) 218

It's the Economy 219

Does This Tie Match My Signifying System? 220

Great Expectations 221

So You Say 223

17 Deconstruction Says It's Not What You Think 225

Philosophy's Low Opinion of Language 226

Truth First 227

With Writing in Mind 228

Bye-Bye Binary 229

Texting from Work 232

Living in the Material Word 234

18 Psychology Brings Linguistics to the Couch 237

Post-Structuralist Mind 238

Mirror, Mirror, Then the Wall 238

Subjects of Significance 240

Getting Saussure Stuck in Your Head 240

Chain Letters 242

Taking Your Place 243

Baby Talk (Or, a Womb with a View) 244

Who's Pulling the Strings? 247

Part 6 In the World and Of the World 249

19 Cultural Studies Tries to Ruin a Good Time 251

High Fives for High Culture 252

The Culture Industry 253

Enlighten Me-No, Don't 254

New Forms for New Minds 256

Making Copies 257

Material Feelings 258

Freaky Styley 259

Who Are Your References? 260

What Just Happened? 261

The Pastiche Prologue 263

Wait, Let Me Finish 265

20 History Gets Literary 267

New and Improved 268

Plotting Along in the Past 268

There's Culture in My Poetry! 270

Making the Connections 272

Knowing Looks 273

Doesn't Know When to Quit 274

Russian Legacy 275

I Hear Voices 275

Step Into My Parlor 276

21 Postcolonial Criticism Flaunts the Fashions 279

Reading Between the Lands 280

Us and Them 282

Return to Thornfield 284

Look at It This Way 285

Other Others 286

Choosing Your Words Carefully 287

Are You Lookin' at Me? 288

22 Ecocriticism Offers a Word from Our Sponsor 291

Hit the Ground Running 291

It's Writing, Naturally 294

Portrait of the Land as a Young Woman 297

Varieties of Ecocritical Experience 298

Seeing But Not Scene 299

Collective Energies 299

Glossary 303

Index 309

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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't let the title throw you --- this is a witty and intelligent treatment of a complex subject that is approachable and attainable, as well as authoritative and academic. Very funny while not making fun of its subject. Conversational in tone, the text engages you, never talking down to you or dumbing down the subject matter. I learned a lot, while being entertained at the same time. Read this book!!!