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Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  489 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Critical Theory Today is the essential introduction to contemporary criticial theory. It provides clear, simple explanations and concrete examples of complex concepts, making a wide variety of commonly used critical theories accessible to novices without sacrificing any theoretical rigor or thoroughness.

This new edition provides in-depth coverage of the most common approac
Paperback, Second Edition, 465 pages
Published August 14th 2006 by Routledge (first published 1998)
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One of the best books on critical theory. Easy and accessible, it's helped me write many an A paper.
The chapter on deconstruction is what first attracted me to this book, but I ended up reading the whole thing. Tyson's reader is an ambitious project aimed at "enlarg(ing) our understanding not only of literary works...but also of human experience in general" (p.453). I would say that Tyson succeeded in doing this for me, especially since her book is very different from the kinds I typically read.
Tyson's introduction to critical theory is very useful. She provides excellent overviews of the types of theories popular in English studies today, and she does a good job of showing the strong and weak points of each. The text is quite readable and well-written, though it does become repetitive at times. Each chapter includes a reading of The Great Gatsby in the style of the theory she has discussed.
This book basically takes the complex jargon of theorists and puts it in exceptionally easy terms. It is almost disappointingly easy, in the sense that you lose the style of the original theorists. Still, it's helpful for overarching concepts and terms. At the end of each section, Tyson uses the theory discussed in that chapter in an essay on The Great Gatsby, allowing one to see the theory applied.
Wonderful guide to literary criticism (Psychoanalytical, Marxist, Feminist, New Criticism, Reader-response, Deconstructive, New historical and cultural, Lesbian/gay/queer, African American, and Postcolonial. Each theory is explained clearly, has discussion questions, and short essay interpreting Great Gatsby through that theory lens.
By far the most helpful book assigned to me by my graduate program. This has influenced both my teaching and my reading of literature. Such a great resource, and, like the book boasts, totally reader-friendly. This comes highly recommended!
Tazar Oo
Consider, for example, the similarities among the ever popular “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and, of course, “Cinderella.” In all three tales, a beautiful, sweet young girl (for females must be beautiful, sweet, and young if they are to be worthy of romantic admiration) is rescued (for she is incapable of rescuing herself) from a dire situation by a dashing young man who carries her off to marry him and live happily ever after. The plot thus implies that marriage to the r ...more
Easy to read and well written with a good layout- All I ask for in a theory book.
Laura Simpson
I was reading this book aspartame of my uni course, I gave read most of the theories except one or two. The theories I enjoyed reading about most was feminism, Marxism and psychoanalysis. Tyson creates a clear but comprehensive guide to a beginners look at the theories, but the book is also helpful for more in depth knowledge as I learnt things I didn't know previously about theories. I also liked The Great Gatsby critical readings as not only could you see how the readings were very different b ...more
This book was required reading for a course I took, so I only read the assigned chapters. However, the general impression I got was that although Tyson sometimes simplifies too much (for my taste), her writing makes the main literary theories approachable. Tyson gives an overview of the most influential past and present fields of criticism and illustrates them with examples. I would recommend this book to people in search of general knowledge on critical theory and some hands-on excercise in put ...more
A must-have for any student of "the Lit".
Megan Ivy
This was required reading for a college class but I really enjoyed it. All the theories were presented clearly which was great because I have no prior background with lit theories. My only complaint would be that I didn't know a lot of the novels and authors that she used for examples. This problem just makes me want to find those authors to read now! I have a feeling that as I progress into other Lit courses, this book will get pulled out many, many times.
Kyla Crowley
Okay, so I didn't read the last two chapters. It's the end of the semester, cut me a break! However, those two chapters were an addition to the updated version of this book, so technically I have read the whole thing. This is good for understanding the basic theories we all use to critique things, and for finding out your reading community. It's one of the better books I've had to read for a class.
Not bad, but some explanations were painfully convoluted. It's interesting to see every critical approach exemplified using Great Gatsby to show the versatility of literary criticism, but because of that does not help a learning critic learn how to select an appropriate approach with any given work. Criticism is partly about choosing a viewpoint and defending it, but in so many ways you just /can't force it/.
This is the only book I've seen that actually lays out what each theory is, in plain language, and how it works and how to apply it. A very useful tool - however, it is just as its title states, an introduction only. More in-depth use of theory should be sought elsewhere, but this is a great way to get a clear understanding of the theories whose authors seem so resistant to setting out clear roadmaps for.
Had to read this for a class. It was informative but it was really dry and I didn't like how the examples all tended tie back in with The Great Gatsby. I didn't really like that story and the fact that I had to keep analyzing it just made it that much more of a chore to do. I'm glad to be done with this book and that course. I wouldn't recommend this for anyone who doesn't like The Great Gatsby.
Laura Leaney
The sub-title is accurate. This is truly a "user-friendly guide." I was a member of the Nerdy Folk tribe who enjoyed literary theory in college, but reading de Saussure, Bakhtin, or Cixous made for some stressful late-night reading. This book takes complex theory and makes it clear and easy to understand immediately. A very helpful source for the uninitiated.
Jul 08, 2009 Michelle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Michelle by: Lois Tyson
Lois Tyson is the sweetest person you will ever meet and one of the most knowledgable. This book is written exactly how she talks, and it will teach you everything you need to know about critical theory. I was so lucky to use this book in a class taught by her. Amazing read for anyone who wants to learn about the topic!
Thank you to Ms. Pratiwi, I can read this e-book. Still on the process of reading, but it was a blast of help when I had to deal with the Literary Criticism class, though I haven't really understand all, but at least I'm not as blind as I was before. Good book, and it is a user-friendly guide
M.E. Vaughan
It really is a user-friendly guide and introduction into the chaotic, sexist and sometimes intolerably bigoted world of Critical Theory. Tyson has a refreshingly simple way of writing, and maintains a bright and enjoyable narrative throughout.
So user friendly, but because it goes over theories and not theorists it is not as thorough as expected. A few important theorists are left out. It is still a simplified version, providing a cohesive understanding to theory.
This book is my absolute favorite. Critical Theory Today has really helped me question my natural assumptions that I had as a child and brought healing to my unconscious. Its an amazing book. Its a must have!!!
This author gave a wonderfully concise and understandable overview of most major critical theories. If you want to learn about the different lenses to view literature through, this is a perfect introduction.
Elizabeth Lund
Basically reaffirmed what I already suspected about literary theory. Quite useful, though, as I couldn't seem to find a straight answer on what theory was from anywhere else. Good descs. of the theories.
Really nerdy, but I love this book! It is the best presentation of critical theory I have been exposed to. User friendly is an understatement, it makes critical theory understandable to all readers!
Heather Acker
As far as textbooks go, it's actually very interesting. The examples given are easily understandable, and for once, textbook jargon has been traded for the language of the lay man.
Used this during my undergrad. It was very useful in providing an overview of various theories and how they are applied. It is a good springboard for other sources and topics.
Jennifer Ladino
This is the book that reads Gatsby through every theoretical lens. Very interesting, and accessible, introduction to theory. I'm using it in a class this semester.
Arjun Ravichandran
Fascinating introduction to literary/cultural theory ; covers psychoanalytical, de-constructive, Marxist, structuralist approaches to literature, culture and thus life.
A fantastically accessible introduction to literary theory. The book introduces key ideas in literary theory and applies them to readings of the Great Gatsby.
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