The Blackwell Guide to Literary Theory
More than eighty years ago, the English literary critic, I. A. Richards, spoke of a “chaos of critical theories,” an assessment that would not be wide of the mark in the early years of the twenty-fi rst century. The student of literature today is confronted with an array of theories concentrating on the literary text, TEXTUALITY, language, genre, the reading process, social, historical, and cultural context, sexuality and gender, the psychology of character, and the intentions of the author. In some cases, the specifi c nature of a given course in literature will make selecting from among these various theoretical approaches easier; in many cases, however, students must choose for themselves which direction their analyses should take. The Blackwell Guide to Literary Theory is designed to facilitate this process by offering students and instructors basic information on the major theories, practitioners, and their texts. It also includes a history of literary theory from the late nineteenth century to the dawning of the twenty-fi rst and a series of sample theoretical readings
of a variety of literary texts.