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Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  771 Ratings  ·  70 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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Jul 22, 2008 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books on critical theory. Easy and accessible, it's helped me write many an A paper.
Erika Schoeps
Sep 01, 2014 Erika Schoeps rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-for-school
One of my favorite textbooks ever, and probably one of the reasons I changed my major from "Professional Writing" to "Literature." This book takes a conversational, casual tone explaining sometimes difficult subjects.
Although this book feels conversational and casual, it never stumbles into the realm of patronizing.

Sometimes, even though this book was quite casual, I feel as if the author was being unnecessarily wordy. I would sometimes stop and try to rephrase a sentence to be far simpler, and
Laura Simpson
Oct 02, 2012 Laura Simpson rated it liked it
Shelves: uni-reading
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
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.
Mar 29, 2007 Anne-Marie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
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.
Sep 26, 2007 Scott rated it liked it
Shelves: theory
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.
Aug 29, 2008 Sarah rated it liked it
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.
May 19, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing
Easy to read and well written with a good layout- All I ask for in a theory book.
Sep 21, 2016 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic
Yay! Mission accomplished! I’ve finally finished reading this huge book on literary theory! Lois Tyson’s Critical Theory Today is an extremely comprehensive and highly readable introductory guide aimed for those who seek to gain a thorough understanding of the various schools of literary criticism it offers. Whilst there are numerous books on literary theory that provide thorough explanations with regard to and great insights on different literary criticism, I’ve found this particular book to be ...more
Tazar Oo
Feb 29, 2012 Tazar Oo rated it really liked it
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
Matt Sautman
Aug 14, 2016 Matt Sautman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Using The Great Gatsby as a central text for analysis, Critical Theory Today provides a catalogue of major theoretical lenses, each subdivided to explain primary concepts pertaining to each lens. This book is not anthology, but the manner in which Tyson breaks down information and provides bibliographies for future readings leaves the reader feeling just as enlightened had Tyson substituted her words for the words of major theorists instead. Whether one wants an introduction to Postcolonial, New ...more
Sep 21, 2012 Anna rated it it was ok
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
Megan Ivy
Oct 14, 2013 Megan Ivy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-college
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.
Sep 19, 2007 Patrick rated it really liked 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.
Sep 22, 2014 kylajaclyn rated it liked it
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.
Jul 19, 2012 Nick rated it liked it
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/.
Feb 13, 2015 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: textbooks
From liberal humanism to post-modernism, this book gives an informative account of different critical theories allowing us to interpret any text or poem given.
Lois Tyson makes it accessible for any user to approach the theories easily and to apply them effectively throughout the process of analysing the text
Jul 08, 2009 Michelle rated it it was amazing
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!
Laura Leaney
Jun 17, 2010 Laura Leaney rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 10, 2013 Morgan rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 12, 2015 Amanda rated it really liked it
Textbook reviews! Yay?

The textbook I used in a previous class made critical theories super confusing. It went so over my head that I was super nervous about the class that required this textbook. However, this book is awesome and explains critical theory so much better than that other textbook. So props to this book. It made critical theory easy.
Apr 28, 2009 Loo rated it liked it
Shelves: textbooks
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.
Jan 16, 2017 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This was a very basic introduction into critical theory/literature theory. Most of the information was not new to me, but it was a good foundational text to help me decide which direction to take in my own readings from here.
Jun 17, 2012 Jacqué rated it it was amazing
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!!!
Jan 14, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
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.
M.E. Vaughan
Sep 11, 2013 M.E. Vaughan rated it really liked it
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.
Niratisaya Niratisaya
Jun 19, 2010 Niratisaya Niratisaya rated it really liked it
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
Mar 06, 2009 Katherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Nov 21, 2014 Len rated it really liked it
A book that neatly explains various critical theories. It's accessible yet in-depth. If you want to enhance your engagement with literature (and life for that matter) then this is worth reading.
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