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Literary Theory: An Anthology
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Literary Theory: An Anthology

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  684 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
This anthology of classic and cutting-edge statements in literary theory has now been updated to include recent influential texts in the areas of Ethnic Studies, Postcolonialism and International Studies

A definitive collection of classic statements in criticism and new theoretical work from the past few decades All the major schools and methods that make up the dynamic fie
Paperback, 1314 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Blackwell Publishers (first published December 22nd 1997)
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Craig Smillie
Jul 31, 2012 Craig Smillie rated it it was amazing
I HAVE read this cover to cover. I picked it up on my daughter's shelf and started looking - and was amazed to find I could barely understand a single sentence! As an English teacher I was surprised to find a whole other way of looking at text since my University days. I was horrified that none of my lecturers had even referenced any of this material in the seventies. So... I self-educated myself - struggling through all the material - and then just started going to the original sources.Fascinat ...more
Ad Astra
May 25, 2011 Ad Astra rated it really liked it
This is a really good collection of essays, whose scope bends beyond just literary theory, but many of the emerging thoughts and ideas that surrounded the beginning of this field. Although I haven't necessarily finished it, I've read a lot of the portions in here for discussion and class. Some of the essays are incredibly dense and it takes me about 2 or 3 times to read something to form ideas and comprehend what is being said. Definitely worth checking out some of the Derrida or Lacan about pow ...more
Danielle Chappell
Oct 30, 2014 Danielle Chappell rated it did not like it
I had to read most of this huge book for graduate school. This is an anthology of various philosophers and essayists that discuss phonology, various lit theory, linguistics, etc. It is very lengthy and each essay is very long and very difficult to read unless you love to read about phonology for fun.
Dec 29, 2008 Alan rated it really liked it
Ya, can anyone ever say that they've read a monstrous anthology like this? OK, I've not read all of it. And I have already forgotten half of what I read. But I know I spent more than 100 hours in this book, and what I read changed how I read—mostly for the better. Is that good enough?
Jodi Lu
May 17, 2011 Jodi Lu rated it did not like it
Everyone needs to get over themselves here. And when that's done, can someone explain the stupid postmodern cover art to me?
Monica Martin
Aug 05, 2015 Monica Martin rated it did not like it
I hate that you can't simple unclick the 'currently reading' button on this website. I'm not going to start this book because its a heffer, and im lazy.
That is all.
Jan 10, 2017 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Covers a wide breadth of theories. I haven't read this cover-to-cover, but went through quite a bit for ENGL 251B. At times it's challenging to read, but it was one of my favourite textbooks and I sometimes reference it years later.
Janille N G
Jul 18, 2016 Janille N G rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
"Course in General Linguistics", Ferdinand de Saussure
"Mythologies", Roland Barthes
"How To Do Things With Words", JL Austin
"On Narcissism", Sigmund Freud
"The Uncanny", ---
"The Mirror Stage...", Jacques Lacan
"The Negro and Psychopathology", Frantz Fanon
"Capital", Karl Marx
"The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction", Walter Benjamin
"Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses", Louis Althusser
"The Culture Industry as Mass Deception", Horkheimer and Adorno
"Différance", Jacques Derrida
Jan 03, 2015 Craig rated it it was amazing
I must admit, I have only read about 85% of this anthology. It comprises a collection of essays and excerpts from various philosophers of literature or theorists who touched on literature (like Marx, Freud, etc.) It is the one non-scriptural book that has brought me the most satisfaction through life (in the short-term and long-term). The ideas contained therein are near sacred to myself since they are now part of me in many senses. I have often thought this book is one that any intelligent pers ...more
Feb 19, 2016 Faye rated it liked it
I obviously didn't read every word of this book, but I did consume a fairly large majority of the essays. I thought this was a good anthology. I loved the insight of the authors in their intros to the various literary theories. I think I learned the most from their thoughtful essays than from the scholars themselves. I do wish there was a bit more commentary and insight into some of the more complicated/less accessible material. Especially since the course I took was online and I didn't get the ...more
Jun 23, 2013 Stephanie rated it liked it
This anthology is a pretty good introduction to the basic concepts of literary theory and the diverse schools of thought on the subject. It contains excerpts from some of the most famous essays/speeches on the topic, abridged for the purposes of the text and the course. At times, the language of the individual writers is confusing, so I found myself reading and re-reading several chapters to make sure I took away everything I needed to learn. This one's a tough read, but offers a lot of helpful ...more
Dec 04, 2016 V rated it it was amazing
I'm a different person now.
Jun 17, 2009 Meghan rated it it was ok! you definitely have to be in certain mindset to wrap your head around this content. There are some "out there" theories in this text.

I'm not so sure I can "rate" this text. It definitely takes some digusting and some serious thought but, even then I'm not sure anyone could fully understand the theories that are held within. Its defintiely interesting...after reading these theories and taking literary theory my reading is somewhat tainted. ;0)
Cait Cordova
Jun 21, 2016 Cait Cordova rated it it was amazing
This is one of the finest anthologies I have ever had the pleasure of perusing. Not only is it a perfectly balanced collection of stories, biographies, excerpts, and factoids, it's eclectic nature allows all of these different pieces to compliment each other as the reader learns and reads more. From Achebe to Derrida, this anthology is a wonderful introduction to anyone interested in the ever changing world of literary theory.
This is a handy volume to have around, except for being actually physically handy. It weighs in at pretty hefty, but it's packed with the seminal works of theory that have informed all the major schools, from formalism to reader response to gender studies. Sooo helpful, and there are still a handful of pieces we didn't read for class that I'll have to go back to and check out.
May 14, 2011 Leeann added it
Shelves: ssc-general
This was a book that has short discussions of schools of literary criticism over time accompanied by excerpts of larger works that apply to that school in some way. Some of the material is very dense and hard to get through, but, overall, I do think that it is a way to look at the various schools of criticism (as an introduction).
Jun 27, 2016 Darius rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the theorists' essays. They gave me deep insights into literary and critical theory effecting the past, present, and future of society and politics. I've found great quotes to underpin my critical essays. Anyone wishing to understand theory and how it applies to real world historical events should certainly read this collection of scholarly essays.
Crystal Belle
Feb 15, 2009 Crystal Belle rated it liked it
now i didn't read all 1336 pages, but i read enough of it to know that if you are obsessed with literature and the analysis of books, you need to have this in your life. well it's not a necessity, but it is helpful. i used this a lot in college. some great essays about psychoanalysis and freudian theories.
Jul 18, 2007 Cody rated it really liked it
A worthy primer, though I must admit the *Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism* is much more exhaustive. This also contains some lesser taught/read pieces, which makes it a great companion to the Norton...that is, if you have no life and choose to spend days on end attempting to comprehend the grand trajectory of lit crit.
Apr 25, 2010 Lief added it
This book contains a lot of very useful articles dealing with literary criticism. The main problem I have, is, again, mostly the fact that only so much can be fit into a book like this without making it take up three times the size. What I would like to see is more description about how to apply these theories to reading, but it is still a good volume to have for reference.
Apr 20, 2010 Lindsey rated it really liked it
I read a good portion of this in my Literary Theory class and thought it was very useful (though heavy and a pain to carry around). Ryan and Rivkin give great introductions before each school of theory. Some of the excerpts seem oddly excerpted, but other than that, this is a great reference book for those studying literature at the advanced level.
Megan Ivy
Apr 19, 2015 Megan Ivy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-college
I didn't read every single page (who really does?), but I still think this book is great. The editors, Rivken and Ryan, have good introductions to each lit theory. I will also be referencing this book in future college classes as the anthology has so many great essays from leaders in the world of theory and cultural change.
Tom Bensley
Sep 01, 2014 Tom Bensley rated it it was amazing
Well. I didn't read the whole thing, obviously. But I'm finished with the class which required weekly readings of it. It's full of knowledge. I doubt I'm done with it. Read it if you're one of those people who gets a kick out of Deleuze, Foucault, Irigaray, Barthes and a myriad of other smart weirdos.
Nov 29, 2011 Melissa rated it liked it
Basically reading this damn thing cover to cover for my grad class on lit theory. Using in tandem with the Norton Theory and Criticism anthology.

It's not a horrible anthology, but there were too many so-called seminal pieces that I had to read in the Norton. The chapter introductions were usually useful.
Megan S
Apr 18, 2013 Megan S rated it liked it
A great text for university students. Although on the one hand it is nice to have theory broken down into shorter bite-sized chunks, sometimes you lose the context of the debate surrounding the selection. This is a good starting point for those interested in beginning their journey with literary theory.
Does everything it sets out to do - provides an excellent selection of critical theory applicable to literary studies, from the now-mandatory structuralism and poststructuralism to gender and postcolonial studies.
Jenna Kathleen
Aug 20, 2016 Jenna Kathleen rated it it was ok
Shelves: school
I just found this sitting under a pile of old notes and papers and was reminded of pain and suffering. There were some essays I found interesting, but I distinctly remember having a meltdown before the exam for my literary criticism course.
Jan 22, 2008 Cameron rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-crit, philosophy
My first thrust into the world of literary theory came at the claws of this text. Engaging with texts in this critical manner is a skill I have still barely developed, yet it has been richly rewarding in broadening my understanding of the written word.
Dec 13, 2007 Mason rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: beginning grad students
Most of these essays were easily digested if you expended the requisite effort. It loses a star for leaving out Nietzsche and for not including more pieces that specifically address literature (or art or whatever).
Apr 28, 2008 Anna rated it really liked it
Wonderful breadth of selections. Headnotes are dangerously short and, unlike the Norton edition, this anthology does not provide author bios. Great text for a literature class, but will need to be supplemented by additional materials.
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  • The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory
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