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1. The Location of Culture (Routledge
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2. Literature of Travel and Exploration:
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3. The Norton Anthology of Theory
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4. Water and Dreams: An Essay on
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5. On Dialogue
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6. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic
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7. Literary Criticism: An Introduction
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8. Deceit, Desire and the Novel:
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9. Methodology of the Oppressed
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10. Unclaimed Experience: Trauma,
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11. Marxism and Literature (Marxist
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12. Literature and Psychoanalysis
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13. Discourse Analysis (Cambridge
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14. Story and Discourse: Narrative
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15. The Purloined Poe: Lacan, Derrida
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16. Illuminations
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17. Literary Theory: A Very Short
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18. Sexual Personae : Art & Decadence
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19. Semiotics: The Basics (The Basics)
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20. Narratology: Introduction to the

1. The Location of Culture (Routledge Classics)
by Homi K. Bhabha
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Asin: 0415336392
Catlog: Book (2004-10-01)
Publisher: Routledge
Sales Rank: 293143
Average Customer Review: 3 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In Location of Culture, Homi Bhabha sets out the conceptual imperative and political consistency of the post-colonial intellectual project. In a provocative series of essays, Bhaba explains why the post-colonial critiquwe has altered forever the landscape of postmodern discourse. ... Read more

Reviews (15)

3-0 out of 5 stars Homi don't play that!
Let's get one thing straight. Homi Bhabhi is difficult to understand. However, I think everyone else who wrote reviews is wrong. Bhabha is the only post-colonial theorist who has an adequate grasp of historical dynamics in constructing identity, while remaining unafraid to problematize notions of historicity. I don't think the other people who reviewed this book understand that. I liked this book. But I liked his earlier stuff--EG Nation and Narration--a little better.

5-0 out of 5 stars Obscure but ultimately an eye(and text) opening theory
Bhabha is writing about a terrain which is perhaps best understood when being applied to a specific text. The theory all by itself sounds fascinating but obscure, when you see Bhabhas theory in practice, however,it makes all kinds of sense and yields extremely nuanced readings of texts you may have thought you knew very well.
In Writing India(published 1996) Bart Moore-Gilbert uses Bhabha's theory to great effect in his analysis of Kipling.
Also Bart Moore-Gilbert gives an excellent and concise summary of Bhabhas work as well as excellent summaries of Said and Spivak(as well as detailed analysis of criticisms of their work) in Postcolonial Theory Contexts Practices(published 1997). All in crystal clear prose.

3-0 out of 5 stars I'd rather stick my hand in a blender than read this again
The fact that this book is influential is generally beyond argument. What astonishes me, however, is that so many people had the endurance to sit through the horrific writing; the author's style is obnoxious in the extreme. The first paragraph, for example, notes that the question of culture is the "trope of our times," characterized by "a tenebrous sense of survival." These concepts are not mind-bending. An everday, or as Homi would say, "colloquial" vocabularly would sufficiently articulate his thesis, yet he seems hellbent on packing his work with obscure language like he needs show off or prove something. Again, his ideas are influential, but he makes reading them as painful as possible.

1-0 out of 5 stars Mimicry, Mockery, Menace
Ambivalence is a key term in Bhabha's Location of Culture. Accordingly, Bhabha's prose might be considered poetry or gibberish, but certainly not scholarship. There is no thesis, no argument, no evidence. That is not to say that Bhabha wouldn't be capable of such writing. Every once in a while, the reader can catch a glimpse of Bhabha's Other: the lucid thinker of post-colonialism. In order to compensate for the lack of clarity, structure and, yes, basic congruity between subjects, verbs and objects, Bhabha enacts the thoughts he fails to express. Indeed, his text is a performance of itself. Take, for instance, his chapter on mimicry. Whatever intelligent thoughts other scholars have derived from this concept, you will not find them in Bhabha's book. But he indeed shows you what he means, as he goes through the motions of scholarship. First, he makes a number of general statements that sound like a thesis. Then he puts a in a few convoluted sentence structures that make no sense-grammatically or otherwise. And finally he slams in a quote or two to prove a point-what point doesn't matter, for he did not make one in the first place. As a reader you will have to decide whether his work is a mimicry (in his definition "almost but not quite") of scholarship or its menace (according to Bhabha, 'not at all but still a little'). About one thing, though, he leaves no ambivalence: he "quite simply mocks its power to be a model." Harvard volunteered to be the evidence.

3-0 out of 5 stars Even though this is one of the most highly regarded ...
...theory books of the 1990s, its fame and reputation seem overblown. None of the other reviews posted here have really stated what Bhabha tries to accomplish in "The Location of Culture," so I'll give it a crack, even though I'm no expert on postcolonial theory.

To save you all some time, many of Bhabha's key points are made in the first two pages of his book. For instance: "In-between spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood--singular or communal--that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society" (p. 1-2). Elsewhere, in-betweenness is easily the key concept in the book, as well as the notion of HYBRIDITY. The reason the modernist model of Colonialism is doomed to fail is not only because it needs the Other (the colonized) to validate its own supremacy (and to fulfill its desires), but also because it engages in what Bhabha refers to as "contra-modernity": modernity in "colonial conditions where its imposition is itself the denial of historical freedom, civic autonomy and the 'ethical' choice of refashioning" (p. 241). Bhabha finds that by examining the borderlines between Colonial power and Colonial oppression, a truer history of global populations can be obtained. In one of the finer passages in the book, Bhabha examines a scene from Salman Rushdie's controversial 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses" and descibes how the postcolonial body--shaped by an outside nationalist culture--is representative of the colonizer, yet the colonizers "can never let the national history look at itself narcissistically in the eye" (p. 168).

Now let me preface my explanation by saying this is what I THINK Bhabha is getting at. It's not that his prose is "confusing," as other reviewers have stated here--although it is exceedingly "academic" (and there is nothing wrong with that, in and of itself)--but it is mired in the theoryspeak of the West that Bhabha seems so insistent upon de-centralizing. Bhabha uses the theories of the European male elite with so much blind faith that it easily undermines much of what he is trying to accomplish. Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud and Jacques Derrida are all over this book. These "founders of discourse" (as Foucault called Marx and Freud--and could posthumously call himself given his exhaltation in the academy after his death in 1984) represent an alternate (i.e. "left") critical practice, yet completely dominate Western discussions of theory in literary circles. Is not Bhabha, an Indian scholar, colonized by these minds?

Also, Bhabha's insistence upon in-betweenness at times really seems to undermine his (apparent) intentions. He seems, on the one hand, to claim that it is precisely through in-betweenness that the oppressors dominate the oppressed. Yet, it also seems that this in-betweenness gives the oppressed the opportunity to resist the oppressors. We seem to be back at step zero. Is anything really being said here?

He should have followed better the example of Frantz Fanon, who appears early and often as a primary source in "The Location of Culture." Fanon was surely no stranger to the Western tradition, but was able to write in a critical-poetical-personal style that was accessible to non-academics, a style that had real fire. Bhabha, with all his emphasis on the work of postcolonial theory--which, in his words, seeks to "revise those nationalist or 'nativist' pedagogies that set up the relation of Third World and First World in a binary structure of opposition" (p. 173)--continually relies on the concept of "doubling" (likely a Lacanian theory) as well as his notion of in-betweenness (or liminality, as he calls it) in such a manner that no distinct point of view really emerges. The theoryspeak seems to subsume any important observations he might be willing to make.

While this book has some wonderful moments in it, I would estimate that about 25 of the books 250 pages really says something. I'm worried that this book has been canonized because the mainly white scholars that run the Academy need their theories stated in a dense manner by an Indian man to give them validity. I know that kind of thinking is very conspiratorial, but it is only a concern. I've not read any other Bhabha, or other postcolonial theorists like Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak or Arjun Appadurai, but I cannot recommend this an easy gateway into this material. I would recommend the writings of Fanon, though his writing precedes the moment of postcolonial theory by some three or four decades, as a better introduction. ... Read more


2. Literature of Travel and Exploration: An Encyclopedia
by Jennifer Speake
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Asin: 1579582478
Catlog: Book (2003-09-01)
Publisher: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers
Sales Rank: 496701
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Book Description

Containing more than 600 entries, this valuable resource presents all aspects of travel writing. There are entries on places and routes (Afghanistan, Black Sea, Egypt, Gobi Desert, Hawaii, Himalayas, Italy, Northwest Passage, Samarkand, Silk Route, Timbuktu), writers (Isabella Bird, Ibn Battuta, Bruce Chatwin, Gustave Flaubert, Mary Kingsley, Walter Ralegh, Wilfrid Thesiger), methods of transport and types of journey (balloon, camel, grand tour, hunting and big game expeditions, pilgrimage, space travel and exploration), genres (buccaneer narratives, guidebooks, New World chronicles, postcards), companies and societies (East India Company, Royal Geographical Society, Society of Dilettanti), and issues and themes (censorship, exile, orientalism, and tourism).

This comprehensive resource is designed for all those involved in teaching or researching this literature, as well as the general reader with an interest in exploring this growing subject. ... Read more


3. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism
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Asin: 0393974294
Catlog: Book (2001-06)
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Sales Rank: 33996
Average Customer Review: 4.78 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism presents a staggeringly varied collection of the most influential critical statements from the classical era to the present day. Edited by scholars and teachers whose interests range from the history of poetics to postmodernism, from classical rhetoric to ériture féminine, and from the social construction of gender to the machinery of academic superstardom, The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism promises to become the standard anthology in its field.

An Unrivaled Collection: The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism offers nearly twice the number of selections in other leading anthologies and more twentieth-century selections than any other text (including anthologies devoted solely to the twentieth century). This historical breadth of coverage and depth of selection—especially within the twentieth century—make The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism the perfect choice for nearly any theory and criticism course.

Continuity and Connections: The works in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism have been chosen not only because they are individually important but also because they speak to each other, providing students with a rich portrait of the ongoing "critical conversation." Where appropriate, the editors link classical, medieval, and early modern critics to contemporary theorists and movements as well as to other classical, medieval, and early modern critics. Throughout the twentieth-century selections, the editors trace the complex web of interrelated ideas and explicit influences.

Helpful Apparatus:

• General Introduction: A 30-page introduction surveys the history of criticism and theory and provides an overview of the many schools and movements that make up the contemporary theoretical landscape.

• Headnotes: Each of the 169 figures represented in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism is treated in an informative headnote that not only introduces the writer's life and thought but also connects the writer to other critics, theorists, and movements.

• Bibliographies: Each author headnote is followed by a selected bibliography. A detailed, annotated general bibliography at the end of the volume is divided into historical periods and major schools and movements. This material makes The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism a valuable reference for scholars as well as a useful teaching anthology.

• Annotations: In the Norton tradition, The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism's annotations are extensive, helpful, and as unobtrusive to students' own interpretive work as possible. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking
Being an English major I've had my share of anthologies. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism stands out to me because it offers direct access to the writers and their essays rather than filtered, explained, and dissected discussions of them. It allows for the opportunity to explore what the author had to say in their own voice. Unfortunately that means some selections are more difficult to read than others. The trade-off is knowing that what you are reading is the source of the idea rather than a reflection of it. While I bought this book as a class requirement, reading it (and I am nowhere near done) has offered me new perspectives to not only view literature, but the world in general. That is probably the best thing I can say about this book. The worst? It's not a light read -- literally! Having to tote this brick around campus for a semester was not a pleasant experience regardless of how interesting the essays are.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent but Incomplete
This criticism anthology is well put together but is lacking in certain authors. While many of the selections are used give a wide range of a particular author's work, some of the authors used in the work are not fully represented.

Sir Philip Sidney, Giambattista Vico, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth, Gyorgy Lukacs, Langston Hughes, Laura Mulvey and several others only have one work each in the book. Granted, you can't put all the works these authors have to offer, but some of them are heavy hitters in the criticism world and I find it hard to believe that they are poorly represented in a work such as this. Hopefully, in future editions these authors will better represented.

5-0 out of 5 stars A darn good anthology
As I set out to perform the presumptuous task of reviewing what I consider the bible of criticism, I want to make something quite clear: I am reviewing the book not as a literary critic, which I am not, but as a consumer, which I am, since I did pay the hefty price for this massive tome. I am no expert on this subject of Literature, but I would like to become one some day and I thought this a good place to start. I have not quite completed Leviathan (that is the name I gave my Norton Anthology in question here) but I have been reading this in between novels for coming on two years now and I feel I am able to give it the old thumbs up or thumbs down (note: there is no essay in the book covering the critical theory behind thumb pointing). My verdict is thumbs UP, with 5 stars (they don't get into star ratings either). Let it be stated that many of the worlds all-time great minds are represented here and the essays selected are historic and far beyond my reproach. The physical quality of the book is marvelous and the type is flawless; I have found no typos in the 1800 (out of 2500) finely printed pages I have read. The selection headings are invaluable, in-depth analyses of the essays that follow, and they all seem as if written by the same anonymous, deft hand.

The first order of business in the way of criticism for me is the nature of some of the selections, which are undeniably political with little or no relevance to literary theory. I can understand including Marx for laying the foundation for further essays about Marxist literary theory, but do I really learn about literature from Franz Fanon's essay on how a country can best recover from the end of colonialism? Or what about the irrelevant social criticisms of Theodore Adorno? Perhaps the most pessimistic, depressing, and idiotic things I have ever read. This is the only essayist whom I wish did not make the cut. In one essay he goes so far to offend as to outright assert that human laughter is a sign of moral and intellectual decay, among many other absurdities. Aside from Adorno, the non-relevant essays are very good and worth reading anyway, so I was not too bothered by it, but be forewarned there is a big chunk of political, social and linguistic theory here, much of which has only a tenuous (at best) relationship to what most people consider to be Literature.

My second criticism may perhaps have to do more with my own mistaken expectations and therefore unfair, but I would not be surprised if there are other like-minded consumers out there. I was expecting to learn more about literary history, style, modes, technique, devices, genres, and the like. I was also hoping to read classic criticism of classic works. There is none of that here except obliquely. You will not, for examples, learn anywhere in this book what the Romantic period of literature was all about, or how writers use plot and dialogue to convey meaning. You will not find a lot on the why verse and meter were once dominant modes of literary focus whereas prose is now. And lastly, you will not read a great exposition on Hamlet or Job. I think it would be more appropriate to call this an "Anthology of Theories OF Criticism", or better yet just "Anthology of Literary Theory", not "...Theory AND Criticism." The essays are mostly about the philosophical nature of literature and how to study, interpret, and teach it. My silly notion was that an anthology of both theory and criticism would have examples of the great critical writings, not just the theory behind them.

4-0 out of 5 stars Complex, but complete
This tome is complete, historically and culturally. Some of the reading is a bit jarring because of all the psychoanalytical jargon, but this anthology is a very thorough canon of articles about literary theory and criticism. If you're looking for a light read, this isn't for you. If you want depth and analysis, then you've found your anthology.

Word_Ninja

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Available Twentieth Century Anthology
While this is undoubtedly the best anthology of its kind I am aware of and, as other reviewers note, the selection of twentieth century theorists is extremely rich, I do find that that it isn't as strong as I had hoped on earlier periods. Inevitably, no anthology could ever be all-inclusive, but it is surprising when someone like Carlyle, for instance, who is mentioned in a number of the introductory prefaces, doesn't warrant an entry in his own right. Nor is there any Ruskin, which is a *huge* hole. I was also surprised that the Romantic Theory section did not have a selection of Keats' theorising- a very strange omission indeed.

If you are predominantly interested in pre-twentieth century theory, this is not your oracle. From a glance at the index, it's obvious that more than half the anthology is twentieth century material. Perhaps, given the profusion of criticism in the twentieth century, two volumes would have achieved a more effective historical survey. That said, as a twentieth century anthology, this is exemplary. The indexes, bibliographies, tables of content,etc render the material much easier to negotiate than one would have expected and the introductory prefaces which appear before each author's selection are concise, insightful and would be especially useful for students struggling with some of this material for the first time. These prefaces open up further trails of enquiry both within and beyond the anthology, allowing readers to easily pinpoint the relevant theorists for their areas of interest. ... Read more


4. Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter (Bachelard Translation Series)
by Gaston Bachelard
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Asin: 0911005250
Catlog: Book (1999-03-15)
Publisher: Dallas Institute Publications
Sales Rank: 282512
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Book Description

Gaston Bachelard, master dreamer of the elements, animates the waters of the soul with his stirring, fluid imagination. With the subtlety of a poet, he ranges from the surface of water with its reflective narcissism to the very depths where water flows into death. Clear waters, deep water, the Charon Complex, water in combination with other elements, maternal waters, water's morality, violent water, water's voice. ... Read more


5. On Dialogue
by David Bohm, Lee Nichol
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Asin: 0415149126
Catlog: Book (1996-12-01)
Publisher: Brunner-Routledge
Sales Rank: 159179
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"During the past few decades, modern technology, with radio, television, air travel and satellites has woven a network of communications which puts each part of the world into almost instant contact with all the other parts. Yet, in spite of this world-wide system of linkages, there is, at every moment, a general feeling that communication is breaking down everywhere, on an unparalleled scale."

The question of how we can communicate better is at the heart of On Dialogue. This revised and expanded edition is the most comprehensive documentation to date of best-selling author David Bohm's dialogical world view.
... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars A very helpful book.
When you work with people, or as a matter of fact, when you live among people, as we all do, having some knowledge about how interactions work are essential. David Bohm's book On Dialoge is a very handy book on this topic.

In our world everything happens so fast, with modern technology, television, computers, air travel and sattelites. There is a network of communications which has influence on our everyday life. Just push a button and you are in contact with people from all over the world.

How we communicate is a question for all of us. And in On Dialogue David Bohm is helping us to at least find some answers.

The book enlightens topics as on communication, on dialogue, the nature of collective thoughts and many more. We read from the foreword: "Perhaps most importantly, dialogue explores the manner in witch thought is generated and sustained at the collective level."

Read this book, and you will learn alot about your own life, the life you are bond to live in interaction with people around you.

Britt Arnhild Lindland

4-0 out of 5 stars As usual a superb book.
Bohm has a certain style in his writing which makes him stand out from others who write on similar topics. One aspect is his willingness to suspend his own viewpoint, at least to some degree, by introducing his approach to communication on an intimate level. This does not mean the kind of intimacy between lovers but it is of the same kind. What does this mean ? It means that it is communication without the presence of walls/barriers which interfere with the ability of one person to give rise to the same meaning in the mind of the other. This is the essence of communication at its most basic. The 'normal' mode of cummunication which takes place between people nowadays is way short of this ideal. The social barriers and thought constructions which are firmly embedded in the mind of most induce various automatic or reflex reactions when questions or comments are made which are in some way outside of the "allowed" list. These reactions can vary from fear, the most common, to anger and eventually in extreme cases to violence. How do they arise ? Through purely reflex reactions generated from countless experiences which promote a protective response because of the "existence" of the self. I say existence in inverted commas because Bohm denies this has any reality. Bohm uses his dialogue mode of communication to let people face their thought reflexes and stay with them ie staying aware while their mind and body undergoes its automatic reactions. Only this allows the mind to go beyond these usually unconscious reactions and proceed into a place where creation can occur. This means the creations of new ideas rather than a fallback into the old ones. This form of communication is far from easy to undergo and reactions of fear would be common as would eventual anger and frustrations as the self attempts to dominate in some way by either trying to control the dialogue or hide from it. This is overcome by staying with the discomfort until it dissipates by itself.

Dialogue offers much more than the current ways of communication such as discussions or negotiations which never face the serious issues. Bohm stresses the pathless approach, ie one where no direct goal is provided and no leader selected. This has some similarity to tribal councils practised by native Americans for example.

In this book Bohm through examples and ideas develops this mode to something useful for all of society. Bohm always leaves room for ideas to be generated from his own beginnings. As usual a superb book.

4-0 out of 5 stars To experience a sense of dialogue read this book.
Author Bohm, David. Year (1996) Title On Dialogue, Publisher Routledge: New York, NY Pages 95 Comments On Dialogue provides the reader with the feeling of dialogue. The effect while reading is akin to the movement from alpha to beta brain waves. An aura develops around one's thinking and experience that is qualitatively different than usual. It has the feel of the deep night dialogues round the campfire. It engenders thinking on a different level. Read this book if you are interested in the story behind the story on dialogue as mentioned by Senge and if you are attracted to exploring ideas on thinking about thinking. Do not read this book if you are looking for a quick, easy, step by step requiring no egagement process for developing dialogue. The writing style is a flowing narrative. The complexity lies in the topic not in the language usage. Highligts: · A clear understanding of suspending assumptions. · Experiencing the mood of dialogue for self dialogue. · Dialogue means no purpose, no agenda, and not doing anything. · Thought is the problem- it's the ideas that matter. · The importance of observation of content and process. · The introduction to the concept of participatory thought. · The increased understanding of the concept of the implicate order ... Read more


6. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature
by Espen J. Aarseth
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Asin: 0801855799
Catlog: Book (1997-09-01)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Sales Rank: 122287
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Just get it
... what else is necessary to say. This book will spur so many thoughts and ideas that you will be reading it for ever after. It is a must for any serious hypertext/cybertext scholar.

5-0 out of 5 stars THE book on interactive narrative studies
Aristotle is alive and he is norwegian! Finally here is the lost book of Poetics. If you are one of the rare race of people that like to think about videogames rather than play with them, you will love this book. Maybe many scholars won't pay Aarseth much attention, but time will speak by itself. This is the most intelligent, visionary and interesting book available about interactive fiction/narrative/drama/or-whatever-name-you-like. ... Read more


7. Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice (3rd Edition)
by Charles E. Bressler
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Asin: 0130333972
Catlog: Book (2002-07-01)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Sales Rank: 68869
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Must-Have for Anyone with an interest in Literary Criticism
Literary Criticism is one field of study that, no doubt, confuses most people with all the "-isms". Charles Bressler's book is a very useful tool in sorting out all these "-isms". This is a well-organized book: each chapter focuses on a different theory and discusses the theory's historical development, assumptions, methodology and even has questions for analysis (great help when writing a paper). The chapter culminates in two essays of application of that particular theory. This is the most popular and widely-circulated book among Lit Majors in my university. And this is one that you should definitely own. ... Read more


8. Deceit, Desire and the Novel: Self and Other in Literature
by R. Girard
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Asin: 0801818303
Catlog: Book (1976-05-01)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Sales Rank: 397189
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars A superior work of literary criticism
Though Girard admits in an interview that when he wrote this book he was indulging in the dubious pleasure of debunking, it is still an excellent entree into the mimetic hypothesis. The book outlines the important theory of "triangular" or "mimetic" desire, which states that the notion of a desire original to the subject is a romantic lie, and that human beings borrow one another's desires. The book is also a monumental contribution to the study of the history of literature, showing that the evolution of society is tracked and analyzed by the great novelists, who alone in the Western world have understood the mimetic foundations of human interaction.

5-0 out of 5 stars An indispensable book
Groucho Marx said "I wouldn't be a member of any club that would be stupid enough to have me". In DECEIT, DESIRE and THE NOVEL, Girard and his wonderful translator Yvonne Freccerro help us explore that dilemma of self-distaste, and the ever-receding goal of acceptance.

The book argues that the novel as a form is historically preoccupied with one particular dilemma: That when young, each of us believes that the OTHERS have some passport to community that we ourselves lack. The path through life (to maturity or to death) takes place through imitation of, and competition with, those persons who seem to have achieved what we wish ourselves to achieve. As part of this, we often chase after objects whose possession promises to "transform" us into someone else. Think of Swann and high society, Don Quixote and knighthood. If we tilt at windmills-- or seek achievements we don't value once we have them-- it may be because we thought these symbols will yield not merely themselves but also what they symbolize: Don Quixote hopes to become a knight, Swann hopes to become an aristocrat.

When the transformation doesn't happen-- when, for example, Groucho Marx becomes a member of the country club and discovers he's still as uncouth as he always was -- the possession disappoints. The victim then either matures, or sets off on another treasure hunt.

There has never been a work of literary criticism so revealing of the human psyche as DECEIT, DESIRE AND THE NOVEL. Girard's book focuses on envy, but in the process reveals a path to becoming genuine. If nothing else, this book will send you back to Proust, Cervantes and Stendhal greedy for text.

5-0 out of 5 stars triangular mimesis
Girard's work in _Deceit, Desire & the Novel_ is a psychoanalytic approach to literary criticism. It explores the relationship between the subject and object of desire, attributing the cause of desire to a third party, the mediator. He uses Proust, Dosteyvsky, Stendhal and Flaubert as models. Overall, it is engaging, easy to read and absolutely necessary for anyone interested in critical theory. ... Read more


9. Methodology of the Oppressed
by Chela Sandoval
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Asin: 0816627371
Catlog: Book (2000-10)
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Sales Rank: 126849
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars A New Addition to my Top 10 List
Every so often, you read a book that makes it all come together for you. In this brilliant and densely footnoted volume, Chela Sandoval identifies the "academic apartheid" that keeps poststructuralism, postcolonial theory, ethnic studies, queer theory, hegemonic (white) feminism, and, especially, U.S. third world feminism isolated from and in limited conversation with one another, despite their common undercurrents. By introducing the concepts of "differential social movement" and "differential consciousness," she makes these spheres mutually intelligible and reconcilable in a way that can facilitate coordinated action for democratic social justice (rather than simply more academic pontification). What is particularly helpful is that she situates her analyses within postmodernity, noting how the dimensions of this historical space at once warrant, demand, and permit new and dynamic forms of activism. You will never think the same way about "theory," U.S. third world feminism, or the possibilities for a democratic future in the era of globalization after reading this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Chela Continues On Differential Consciousnes..
Chela Sandoval, a professor of Chicana/o Studies at UCSB, first introduced what she characterizes as the "methodology of the oppressed" in 1991 with her essay "U.S. Third World Feminism: The Theory and Method of Oppositional Consciousness in the Postmodern World," which is the central to her book "The Methodology of the Oppressed." In the mentioned essay she unravels the meaning of"U.S Third World Feminisms,"why and where such movimientos came about , and what different forms of feminist practice it employs to bring social justice. She labels the tactics used by the movimientos as: equal rights, revolutionary, supremacist and separatist. U.S Third World Feminism is then "differential consciousness," which means possessing the faculty of mapping the circumstances one finds herself, and acting accordingly out of the four forms of tactics. By specifically reviewing the works of Western theorists such as that of Frederic Jameson, Roland Barthes and Michael Focault, Sandoval deconstructs and challenges the hegemony of these eurocentric thinkers within 'the Academy' on postmodern resistance and consciousness. She exploits these theoretical faults so that women-of-color continue constructing U.S. Third World Feminism as a legitimized theory and practice. Such hegemonic puncturing movidas by Sandoval, are then examples of the inner/outter technologies that the oppressed use for emancipation: "radical semiology, deconstruction and meta-idealizing." Sandoval can employ these various technologies because of her "differential movement;" the ability of differential perception and deployment of consciousness, or what many Chicana/os know as "la conciencia de la Mestiza." These technologies are guided by her commitment to equity for the marginalized inside/outside the master's home, to make "the system" accountable to our voices. This commitment is what she characterizes as "democratics," the love for people which drives one to pursue social justice, which constitutes the technologies, which are essential for the methodology of the oppressed, which is the methodology of love. Although the "Methodology of The Oppressed" is a rigorous read because of the high theory, it is an extremely brilliant book that gives us hope in laying out possibilities for us to build coalitions across race, class, gender and sexualities to enact social movements to bring social change. This book masterfully makes the connection between the political struggle within the academy, as well as outside, and assist us in strategically negotiating the terms of engagement to meet our normative goals of social equity.

5-0 out of 5 stars My Review for UCLA's "La Gente de Aztlan" Newsmag.
Chela Sandoval, a professor of Chicana/o Studies at UCSB, first introduced what she characterizes as the "methodology of the oppressed" in 1991 with her essay "U.S. Third World Feminism: The Theory and Method of Oppositional Consciousness in the Postmodern World," which is the central to her book "The Methodology of the Oppressed." In the mentioned essay she unravels the meaning of"U.S Third World Feminism,"why and where such movimiento came about , and what different forms of feminist practice it employs to bring social justice. She labels the tactics used by the movimientos as: equal rights, revolutionary, supremacist and separatist. U.S Third World Feminism is then "differential consciousness," which means possessing the faculty of mapping the circumstances one finds herself, and acting accordingly out of the four forms of tactics. By specifically reviewing the works of Western theorists such as that of Frederic Jameson, Roland Barthes and Michael Focault, Sandoval deconstructs and challenges the hegemony of these eurocentric thinkers within 'the Academy' on postmodern resistance and consciousness. She exploits these theoretical faults so that women-of-color continue constructing U.S. Third World Feminism as a legitimized theory and practice. Such hegemonic puncturing movidas by Sandoval, are then examples of the inner/outter technologies that the oppressed use for emancipation: "radical semiology, deconstruction and meta-idealizing." Sandoval can employ these various technologies because of her "differential movement;" the ability of differential perception and deployment of consciousness, or what many Chicana/os know as "la conciencia de la Mestiza." These technologies are guided by her commitment to equity for the marginalized inside/outside the master's home, to make "the system" accountable to our voices. This commitment is what she characterizes as "democratics," the love for people which drives one to pursue social justice, which constitutes the technologies, which are essential for the methodology of the oppressed, which is the methodology of love. Although the "Methodology of The Oppressed" is a rigorous read because of the high theory, it is an extremely brilliant book that gives us hope in laying out possibilities for us to build coalitions across race, class, gender and sexualities to enact social movements to bring social change. This book masterfully makes the connection between the political struggle within the academy, as well as outside, and assist us in strategically negotiating the terms of engagement to meet our normative goals of social equity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Chela Sandoval's Methodology of the Oppressed
Chela Sandoval's Methodology of the Oppressed is an eloquent and compelling explication of the revolutionary praxis of US Third World Feminism. Throughout, Sandoval provides an accessible roadmap for understanding the fameworks and limitations of a variety of modern theorists ranging from Derrida to Barthes through Haraway. ... Read more


10. Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History
by Cathy Caruth
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Asin: 0801852471
Catlog: Book (1996-03-01)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Sales Rank: 372082
Average Customer Review: 2 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Cathy Caruth has emerged as one of our most innovative scholars on what we call trauma, and on our ways of perceiving and conceptualizing that still mysterious phenomenon".--Robert Jay Lifton, M.D., author of "Hiroshima in America" and "The Protean Self". ... Read more

Reviews (1)

2-0 out of 5 stars Poor Analysis
I was excited to read this book when I found out about it, but I was severely dissapointed by the analysis Caruth gives. The texts and problems she addresses are rich and full of material to be sifted through, but her analysis is too quick to make equivalences and parallels where there are none. I found this to be the case most prominently in the chapters on Freud's "Moses and Monotheism." If you follow her logic carefully, she attempts to demonstrate that Freud exhibited repetition (in rewriting "Moses and Monotheism") before he experiences trauma (of being forced to leave Germany). To my knowledge, traumatic repetition is supposed to FOLLOW the traumatic incident. In addition, insofar as she depends on "Beyond the Pleasure Principle," she simply ignores the argument Freud gives for the death drive, and reduces repetition to trauma alone. However, Freud makes the case in "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" that trauma alone is NOT sufficient to understand repetition. I would have been more sympathetic with Caruth's reading if she had made an argument as to why this was not the case, but she does not. ... Read more


11. Marxism and Literature (Marxist Introductions)
by Raymond Williams
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Asin: 0198760612
Catlog: Book (1985-06-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 66483
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12. Literature and Psychoanalysis : The Question of Reading: Otherwise
by Shoshana Felman
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Asin: 080182754X
Catlog: Book (1982-03-01)
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Sales Rank: 153118
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13. Discourse Analysis (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics)
by Gillian Brown, George Yule
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Asin: 0521284759
Catlog: Book (1983-07-28)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 301321
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Book Description

Discourse analysis is a term which has come to have different interpretations for scholars working in different disciplines. For a sociolinguist, it is concerned mainly with the structre of social interaction manifested in conversation; for a psycholinguist, it is primarily concerned with the nature of comprehension of short written texts; for the computational linguist, it is concerned with producing operational models of text-understanding within highly limited contexts. In this textbook, the authors provide an extensive overview of the many and diverse approaches to the study of discourse, but base their own approach centrally on the discipline which, to varying degrees, is common to them all - linguistics. Using a methodology which has much in common with descriptive linguistics, they offer a lucid and wide-ranging account of how forms of language are used in communication. Their principal concern is to examine how any language produced by man, whether spoken or written, is used to communicate for a purpose in a context. The discussion is carefully illustrated throughout by a wide variety of discourse types (conversations recorded in different social situations, extracts from newspapers, notices, contemporary fiction, graffiti, etc.). The techniques of analysis are described and exemplified in sufficient detail for the student to be able to apply them to any language in context that he or she encounters. A familiarity with elementary linguistics is assumed, but the range of issues discussed in conjunction with the variety of exemplification presented will make this a valuable and stimulating textbook not only for students of linguistics, but for any reader who wishes to investigate the principles underlying the use of language in natural contexts to communicate and understand intended meaning. ... Read more


14. Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film
by Seymour Chatman
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Asin: 080149186X
Catlog: Book (1980-06-01)
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Sales Rank: 219097
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Rhetoric and Narrative
Chatman's book has been around for a while, but it is still probably the best summary of structuralist narrative theory out there. Chatman makes the very important connection beetween narrative theory and its rhetorical effects on audience. His treatment of the construction of time in narrative summarizes several other prominent narrative theorists, but his terminology is perhaps the most useful. His clear presentation of the distinction between "story" and "discourse" (often called "l'histoire" and "recit" after Genette) and the linking of discourse to rhetorical theory is perhaps the book's most useful feature. Chatman, whose early works included a treatise on poetic meter, is known primarily as a film theorist, but his work analyzes narrative in many media and in many forms. I have used this book as an introduction to narrative theory in my classes.

5-0 out of 5 stars Useful for analyzing written and film narratives
This book offers, for me, the most understandable model of a narrative I've read so far. Chatman offers helpful concepts for analyzing both written and film narratives. He tries to create a synthesis of all narrative theory before his book, and he does a very good job. Instead of getting lost in a collection of different approaches, you actually find yourself connecting them all, seeing where they fit together.

Among all the books on narratology and narrative analysis I've read, this is the one most helpful not only for analyzing film narratives but also written narratives (although I would always recommend you also read "Narratology: An Introduction", "Narrative Fiction" and perhaps Bordwell and Thompson's " Film Art : An Introduction", if you want to focus especially on films).

This book and the way Chatman dissects the narrative are also interesting for people more interested in writing than in analysis: I believe the parts Chatman splits the narrative into resemble very closely those writers use in putting one together. So this book may actually help writers gain new insights into what they are doing instinctively.

First and foremost, however, it is a very useful book for the student and scholar of literature. ... Read more


15. The Purloined Poe: Lacan, Derrida and Psychoanalytic Reading
by John P. Muller, William J. Richardson
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Asin: 0801832934
Catlog: Book (1988-03-01)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ Pr
Sales Rank: 270583
Average Customer Review: 3.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1956 Jacques Lacan proposed an interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe's "Purloined Letter" that at once challenged literary theorists and revealed a radical new concept of psychoanalysis. Lacan's far reaching claims about language and truth provoked a vigorous critique by Jacques Derrida, whose essay in turn spawned further responses from other writers. "The Purloined Poe" brings Poe's story together with these readings to provide a structured exercise in the elaboration of text interpretation. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars Confussion explained
Obviously, the reader from Miami, Florida filed the wrong review. This book is not the Poe short story "The Purloined Letter" (which, by the way, is a good story), but, rather a philosophical and psychoanalitical study of Poe.

4-0 out of 5 stars Rsponse to the above review
Although I have not finished the book yet, I needed to respond to the other reviewer who wrote that this is not a good mystery. You dingbat! This is a work in philosophy and psychology, not fiction! If you don't even have the slightest clue regarding a text, do not review it!

3-0 out of 5 stars This book had potential but I was not interested in it.
I repeat I am not a big fan of mystery novels but this one was not mysterious at all. Edgar Allen Poe left out the suspenseful feeling that every mystery should contain. ... Read more


16. Illuminations
by WALTER BENJAMIN
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Asin: 0805202412
Catlog: Book (1969-01-13)
Publisher: Schocken
Sales Rank: 7459
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Studies on contemporary art and culture by one of the most original, critical and analytical minds of this century. ... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Benjamin's Greatest Hits
This is the only theoretical text that I have read, with pleasure, in recent memory. Given the conventional prolixity, obfuscation, and circumlocution of contemporary academic prose in the humanities, the fact that you can read Benjamin with pleasure marks him as outstanding.

Benjamin's project was itself outstanding. He aimed at a synthesis of Marxism, mysticism, German romanticism--in a sense, theology, materialist philosophy, and poetry. His critical approaches and thinking embodies the characteristics he praises in literary texts; Benjamin thinks poetically.

This eclectic collection of material, emphasizing Benjamin's later (and more Marxist) ideas, is not unlike a sampler of related but different confections. It's mistaken to think of Benjamin's various intellectual leanings as discrete ideologies or outright contradictions; instead, to borrow from Wittgenstein, consider his ideas to be different members of a family that resemble one another and are clearly related but live different lives in different contexts.

Benjamin's essay "Unpacking my Library," for example, looks on the surface like a confession of self-indulgence, but (in my opinion) deals in a clever and powerful way with the ways in which we inherit, buy, trade, classify, and value our heritage and cultures. This is truly fascinating material!

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, every sentence an insight
Benjamin is one of the few 20th century philosophers who can convey profound thoughts in language that isn't at all opaque. His sentences are always perfectly clear - no pretentious literary or Marxist jargon (thank God). The only thing that makes it slow reading is that you always want to stop, put the book down, and think about what he's just said.

For example, a passage from his essay on Kafka:

'The definition of it which Kafka has given applies to the sons more than to anyone else: "Original sin, the old injustice committed by man, consists in the complaint that he has been the victim of an injustice, the victim of original sin." But who is accused of this inherited sin - the sin of having produced an heir - if not the father by the son? Accordingly the son would be the sinner. But one must not conclude from Kafka's definition that the accusation is sinful because it is false. Nowhere does Kafka say that it is made wrongfully. A never-ending process is at work here, and no cause can appear in a worse light than the one for which the father enlists the aid of these officials and court offices . . . '

This is not opacity for the sake of being opaque; he is trying to get at something incredibly complex, something that (unlike most literary criticism) actually helps you appreciate Kafka and understand him a little better. Benjamin doesn't peel away layers of an onion to arrive at a single shining insight; he presents a simple idea, expands on it a little, and lets you put on the layers of complexity yourself. Read these essays carefully, and it will be obvious why entire schools of thought have sprung up around single paragraphs, why people have devoted their lives to figuring out the ramifications of a single sentence . . .

Benjamin accomplishes something rare: in writing about art, he succeeds in telling us something about life in modern times. And his insights never seem forced; they flow naturally from what he is discussing. For example, his essay on Leskov, "This process of assimilation, which takes place in depth, requires a state of relaxation that is becoming rarer and rarer. If sleep is the apogee of physical relaxation, boredom is the apogee of mental relaxation. Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away. His nesting places - the activies that are intimately associated with boredom - are already extinct in the cities and are declining in the country as well. With this the gift for listening is lost and the comminity of listeners disappears. For storytelling is always the art of repeated stories, and this art is lost when the stories are no longer retained."

A simple little paragraph on storytelling, but soon you start thinking about how the art of writing has changed since Benjamin's time, and what effect television and the movies have had on the way we live, on "boredom" and mental relaxation . . . anyway, I'm probably starting to get pretentious which Benjamin, thankfully, never does.

Above all this entire collection is filled with something increasingly rare nowadays, a genuine love of books. Forget all the Marxist stuff in other reviews, all Benjamin is really doing, finally, is talking about some books that he likes. That he succeeds in doing much more is a testament to his brilliance.

5-0 out of 5 stars Talking Walls
For Walter Benjamin, the defining characteristic of modernity was mass assembly and production of commodities, concomitant with this transformation of production is the destruction of tradition and the mode of experience which depends upon that tradition. While the destruction of tradition means the destruction of authenticity, of the originary, in that it also collapses the distance between art and the masses it makes possible the liberation which capitalism both obscures and opposes. Benjamin believes that with the destruction of tradition, libratory potentialities are nonetheless created. The process of the destruction of aura through mass reproduction brings about the "destruction of traditional modes of experience through shock," in response new forms of experience are created which attempt to cope with that shock.

Allegoresis and collection are the twin foci around which the elliptical writings of Walter Benjamin orbit. The former, as a mode of criticism, transforms the latter practice into a version of materialist historicism. Instead of constructing further barriers between his own practice and the practices of the historical moment he would transcend, Benjamin embraces the underside of his own theories in "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." There he proclaims the disintegration of the aura and champions the revolutionary potential which is thus released. It will be of use therefore, to look at some of his other references to the aura. It's as though Benjamin takes more seriously than Marx the notion that capitalism contains its own subversion--the path to subversion is not to resist and revolt, but to accede and accelerate...

5-0 out of 5 stars Worth the effort
Walter Benjamin put everything he knew into everything he wrote. It all resonates. This makes for challenging reading - at times, it seems like what he is saying is simply too much at a tilt with everything one thinks one knows to seem comprehensible. Then, suddenly, one tilts, and the extraordinary reach, eloquence and power of this man's reading hits home. Benjamin is difficult in the only legitimate way - because what he is trying to say can be said no other way.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfection
This book is a must read for students of literature, philosophy, history, or aesthetics. ... Read more


17. Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Jonathan Culler
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Asin: 019285383X
Catlog: Book (2000-05-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 41595
Average Customer Review: 4.21 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

What is literary theory? Is there a relationship between literature and culture? In fact, what is literature, and does it matter?These questions and more are addressed in Literary Theory:A Very Short Introduction, a book which steers a clear path through a subject which is often perceived to be complex and impenetrable.

Jonathan Culler, an extremely lucid commentator and much admired in the field of literary theory, offers discerning insights into such theories as the nature of language and meaning, and whether literature is a form of self-expression or a method of appeal to an audience. Concise yet thorough, Literary Theory also outlines the ideas behind a number of different schools:deconstruction, semiotics, postcolonial theory, and structuralism, among others.

From topics such as literature and social identity to poetry, poetics, and rhetoric, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction is a welcome guide for anyone interested in the importance of literature and the debates surrounding it. ... Read more

Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars A useful map of the landscape
First, if you have ever speculated that "theory" is primarily posturing by intellectuals with too much time on their hands in an attempt to justify their fringe political/social views, this book will probably confirm that belief for you. Further, if you have ever suspected that the arcane jargon created by "theory" practitioners is little more than obfuscation to ensure that their more outrageous pronouncements will be immune from refutation by intelligent but uninitiated outsiders, this book will do little to dissuade you. Nonetheless, if you want an approachable explication of what "theory" is all about, this is the book for you. Professor Culler does not argue the case for a particular school of thought, but explains (eschewing jargon when possible) the underlying currents of thought that drive literary analysis today. He starts by explaining the inextricable connection of literature theory to cultural studies and proceeds to explore the ramifications of that marriage. He then examines how literature theory attempts to answer questions about the nature of self, language, and meaning. To ensure that no single movement is given precedence, short descriptions of the tenets of the various schools are relegated to an appendix. The sheer number of approaches listed is breathtaking -- Russian Formalism, New Criticism, Phenomenology, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, Deconstruction, Feminist Theory, Psychoanalysis, Marxism, New Historicism/Cultural Materialism, Post-Colonial Theory, Minority Discourse, and Queer Theory. So, if you simply want to know what all the "fuss" is about, or if you want to embark on a more serious study, start here.

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential guide to PoMo Theory
Jonathan Culler's work is a fine exposition on the wrok of some of the twentieth centuries most provoctive philosophical and literary theorists. In well researched and clear chapters, Culler takes the reader on a guided tour of Postmodern theory-- which grew out of or is a response to russian formalism, phenomenology, new criticism, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction,feminist theory, new histroricism, post-colonial theory, and minority discourses--beginning with the a discussion of the idea of "theory" and its importance and application to academic study today.

Using a highly stylized prose voice Culler succeeds greatly in expressing the nuance and deepth of this most controversial philosophical movement. Rather one is a student of Foucault, Derrida, de Saussure, or literary theory in general this book is an invaluable guide to the basics of these complex collection of ideas.

In this work Culler expands upon the importance of literature and by extension the close study of it as he recognizes the interconnectivty implicit between individual life and the literature that is produced as an attempt to explain its meaning. In Culler's view literature and the study of same is every bit as important as the study of history and religion as all aim to promulgate a "true" narrative of human experience, which some do better than others. Literary Theory, if for no other reason, is an important resource simply because it brings this idea to the fore and urges the reader into a more open and receptive posture in relation to the "reading" of any meaningful text, be it a novel, a symphony, a ballet, a painting or even a newspaper, which can only lead to a more infused understanding of the purpose of art and humanities necessary relation to it.

Reading this slim volume will save you hours of struggle with the difficult texts and ideas, that this book is definitely not meant to replace, but only supplement, rather it be Foucault's "History of Sexuality" and "Discipline and Punish"; Derrida's notion of "play" and deconstruction, de Saussure's "la parole" or the diverse body of work that first found its inspiration in these ideas, which are essential to understanding the raging debates in academia today.

4-0 out of 5 stars an accessible and helpful self-study guide for beginners
Yes, the book does aim to answer questions about the nature of literature and theory rather than approach them from a school-by-school philosophical/ideological orientation. Some English student in a rush who just wants an elucidation of the major critical schools will find Culler's approach oblique and might want to find a different book to read. Culler's book is easy to read, fun, clear, yet it touches briefly on a lot of heavy ideas that are explained in plain language for beginners. I appreciate that he doesn't seem to privilege any one ideology but lets the reader make up his own mind; this is the sign of a mature educator. Other reviewers of this little gem have overlooked what is perhaps the most valuable part: the "Citations and Further Reading" section in the back. This helpful annotated bibliography is loaded with references to journals and books that are linked to each chapter topic. It gives specific page numbers where to locate the relevant information so you don't waste time searching. Believe me: this is great. If you are facing something like Derrida's Of Grammatology or de Saussure's Course in General Linguistics for the first time, it can be pretty intimidating. These valuable references make Culler's litle book the perfect self-study guide with the primary texts. The only disappointment I have is that this book does not teach the reader how to apply the information he reads here to other texts; for example, the reader isn't taught steps on how to "deconstruct" a text. But there are other books that already do that like Steven Lynn's Texts in Context or Critical Theory Today by Lois Tyson and many others that are equally good. If you still want an institutional history of criticism or an explication of its schools, Culler recommends many books in the appendix in the back (I haven't read them), among them Terry Eagleton's Literary Theory: An Introduction ("a tendentious but very lively account"), Peter Barry's Beginning Theory: An Introducion to Literary and Cultural Theory ("a useful 'school'-oriented textbook"), Richard Harland's Superstructuralism ("broad and lively introductory survey"), Green and LeBihan's Critical Theory and Practice ("cleverly fuses the survey by school with approach by topic"). Culler's Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction is definitely not the only book a beginner will want to read on literary theory, but it is a great place to start. I rate it a strong four stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars helpful to me
I have been reading Culler's more comprehensive books on Structuralism and Deconstruction. I was having trouble reading these, so I stopped and read this, along with the other "Very Short Introduction" on Poststructuralism (not by Culler.)

I am finishing up "On Deconstruction" and it has been very smooth sailing, thanks to this book.

If you are not a beginner, this book probably isn't necessary, but if you are, it might be useful

3-0 out of 5 stars Spasmodically insightful.
Once again, Culler shows that he can explain theory in a manner that is relatively accessible to the neophyte yet likely to go down well with his peers. All the same, the final effect is less than satisfying. As thoughtful as the seven meditations on theory and language are, they don't have sufficient cohesion to make much of an impression (let alone a memorable one) on a reader fresh to theory. One wishes the author had paid more attention to the historical periods of theory and the revisions of successive generations, if only to clarify key distinctions. Or that this commentary (like many other recent explanations of literary theory) did not pass by archetypal criticism, which may be reductive and out of fashion in the academy but for many younger readers offers an edifying and useful approach. Instead, he manages to touch on Foucault, Derrida, and Lacan in the introductory chapter and devotes later chapters to discussions about J. L. Austin and performative language along with a section about Judith Butler.

The Appendix, which provides a summary of various schools and methodologies, is written in unhelpful, "humanless" prose, as unaware of an audience as it is deaf to voice (certainly this isn't what Barthes had in mind when he sacrificed the author to the life of the text).

In short (or in this case, the very very short of it), there are some good things to be gleaned from this little text (especially if an instructor wishes to use it for "departure points"), but I'm afraid it's too arbitrary, personal, and eccentric to be of great service in the undergraduate classroom. ... Read more


18. Sexual Personae : Art & Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson
by CAMILLE PAGLIA
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Asin: 0679735798
Catlog: Book (1991-08-20)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 35269
Average Customer Review: 4.54 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (50)

5-0 out of 5 stars The most important book of the last 3 decades
Paglia's "Sexual Personae" is a massive work of Olympian learning; the most important book of the last 3 decades and certainly one of the greatest literary tomes of the century. This book in itself is utterly more valuable than a complete undergraduate education at one of our most prestigious universities.

"Sexual Personae" embodies the kind of hard-thinking discussions of art and philosophy so direly needed as the 20th century comes to a close. Paglia forces us to see the embedded truth in old sexual stereotypes, easily cuts through the muddled sentimentalism of current poststructuralist jargon, and implores us to take stock of ourselves in an ascetic, self-responsible and disciplined way using wit, wisdom, and aesthetics as tools of self-knowledge in a turbulent age of decadent Empire.

Paglia sees human history through art with an all-knowing, unapologetic eye to the point of sophisticated fatigue. She revives the ancient Greek concept of the Apollo/Dionysus continuum, she is honest about human social and sexual catharsis, and for all the talk about Paganism these days Paglia forces us to come to terms with the concept in a way that removes its [beautiful and horrifying] dualities from the sterile, solipsistic MickeyMouse playground on which it has been snidely and carelessly tossed by lazy new-age boomer "intellectuals"--so blindly at the expense of the well-being of the next generation of philosophical thinkers.

In many ways, "Sexual Personae" is a kind of intellectual call-to-arms for Generation X. Paglia is brave, shows that she cares, and is willing to take abuse and get tough in order to get the job done. It is the Bible of the 1990's, and an indespensible book for knowing ourselves and our world.

4-0 out of 5 stars Too original and thought provoking to be "feminist"
Reading Rene Denfeld's critique of modern feminism made me think of this book which directly attacked and challenged everything that was feminism in its time (and was roundly condemned by both women who still called themselves feminists) from "Matriarchy is peace" to "women are naturally more loving, compassionate, etc., etc."

Its more than that. It is an examination, a critique, a tour through Western culture from the perspective of a unique and startling confrontational woman. Her Appolonian=male, Dionysian=female argument might be just as a whacked as the Gloria Steinem inner child but it is still largely believed that structure=male, nature=female (just that nature is good and wholesome while structure is "patriarchal") and her love of everything patriarchal is knid of scary if patriarchal had actual meaning than what feminists call things that they don't like.

In this book you will see Emily Dickinson described as the female Sade, read Paglia's burning hatred for Mark Twain (she admits to hating Huckleberry Finn so much that one of the things to do when she went to grad school was to write a paper tearing that book apart), watch Paglia tear the matriarchy apart (look at the pregnant statue - no face, no legs, just pregnant - does that look like a life affirming goddess figure to you or a woman with one function only?), and get disturbed by her theories of culture (all cultures at their height of power and art are primarily pedophiliac)

It's a dense book and one that cannot be read in one sitting. YOu might even have to put it on the shelf and come back to it later, but like the teacher who loves her subject, Paglia will keep you interested. You will never look at Western art the same way again.

Oh one last thing on the feminist issue. Most feminists are Jungian in their outlook. They talk about feminine aspects and masculine aspects in the terms that Jung proposes. Paglia is a Freudian. MOst people consider Freud was a sexist even though he never said anything about anything being naturally feminine or masculine (penis envy being a type of hysteria like the Oedipal complex - possible and not altogether improbable but not normal everyday behavior) but that's because most people don't read Freud because he scares them before they can open up a Freudian text. So if you are feminist who thinks that your cherished ideas will not be confirmed by this book, run away. Let it rest on the shelf. Unless you have the courage to be challenged. Then read some Freud too and see what you've been missing.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Book of the 1990s
I first read "Sexual Personae" right after the 1991 Anita Hill brouhaha, when feminism was at its most dominant position in American culture. Paglia played such a huge role in the destruction of feminism as a credible intellectual force in the 1990s that it's hard to realize just how revolutionary this book was at that point.

I'll restrict myself to two points. Her first chapter is the most quotable piece of writing since "Hamlet." In her chapter on Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," she penetrates to the heart of what's funny about the play so well that Wilde's lines are funnier in her essay than they are in the mouths of event the best actors.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliance dogged by a bifocal argument
Critical Theory, more or less, is that discipline of the Humanities that interprets the Arts via the ideas of philosophy and psychology.

Paglia's "Sexual Personae" is a work of critical theory focusing on human sexuality.

Paglia assumes the mantle of rogue, apostate feminist in declaring that had the development of civilization been left to women, we would all still be living in swamps. She maintains that aesthetic creation is an intrinsic function of male physiology: basically, men have phalluses and thus they create. Also, whereas female biology has a centrality rooted in the earth, male biology is psychologically peripheral and thus inevitably driven to attempt to dominate and rule the irrepressible female. By extension, then, males are driven to "subdue the earth" through the creation of civilization.

From this psychosexual premise, Paglia develops her central thesis: that human sexuality is crucially central to High Culture, that human sexuality inevitably involves power relationships, and that this "gigantic fact" leads inevitably to portrayals in the Arts of relationships characterized by dominance and submission.

Her thesis, then, clearly is influenced by the stark human equations championed by de Sade and Sartre.

While the first half of "Sexual Personae" is highly entertaining, the second half of the book labors under (what appears to be) the logical inconsistency of Paglia's "hermaphrodite" concept.

Paglia argues that up to the Renaissance, European sexual roles and sexual personae - male and female psychologies - were vibrant and well-defined. After that, there commenced a period of diffused "maleness" and "femaleness," resulting in muddled psychosexual conceptions of what had always been, in the good ole days, clear-cut gender roles.

In other words, Paglia's central thesis of the centrality of sex in the creation of High Culture starts unintentionally echoing Douglas Adams' hilarious quip in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy": invoking a pre-Renaissance golden age when, "Men were REAL men, women were REAL women, and small brown furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were REAL small brown furry creatures from Alpha Centauri."

Paglia's logical inconsistency lies in her having, on the one hand, to acknowledge C.G. Jung's axiom that creative males inevitably develop their inner feminine, while on the other hand having to argue that this sort of thing *really* is an undesirable, post-Renaissance muddling of psychosexual identity.

And so it goes: page after page of Paglia reaffirming ad infinitum how the works of all post-Renaissance male artists clearly portray their vast consuming dread of the "vagina dentata" -- the "devouring vagina." (No, I'm not making this up.) This dread presumably being an inevitable consequence of these artists' collective, psychological hermaphroditism...

That said, Paglia's finale - an analysis of Emily Dickinson, whom Paglia refers to as "the American de Sade" - is one of the most compelling and thought-provoking textual analyses in this or any other work of critical theory.

By book's end, after all the intellectual pyrotechnics have faded, Paglia has presented a worldview similar to that of Giambattista Vico: not only do we live in Vico's post-mythological world, we apparently also are occupying Paglia's World of Confused Gender Roles tragically inhabited by masculinized women and feminized men.

"Sexual Personae" is quirky, brilliant, engaging and encyclopedic: a tour de force of erudition.

Recommended to anyone interested in a highly unorthodox appraisal of sexuality in Western Art.

4-0 out of 5 stars Dr. Paglia's A brilliant survey of Western cultural icons
Camille Paglia is a brilliant professor of culture who is this groundbreaking work looks with original insight into cultural
art and literary works from the dawn of civilization to the
poetry of Emily Dickinson who she labels the "Sade of America>
Paglia sets us a paradigm of conflict between the sexes throughout history in realms as diverse as politics, art and
literature. Paglia sees the conflict as based on the Apollo instinct in male artists to overcome the dark, watery, earth-

centered female.
Through a detailed look at such literary giants as Shakespeare, the Romantic poets, Emily Bronte, Whitman, Poe,
Hawthorne, Melville and the late nineteenth century decadents such as Oscar Wilde, Bauldelaire, Gautier, Huysmans and others
she makes original and until now unnoticed observations on the work of each master artist.
The book should be read through to understand her point but students could also use the book to examine the chapters dealing with the particular author or literary/artistic movement they are studying.
Paglia's work is so important it is absud to expect a short review such as this one to do justice to Dr. Paglia's groundbreaking work which will wake up the academy and complacent feminists!
As a disciple of Dr. Harold Bloom this bisexual Italian-American academic is someone the student of the arts should read and savor.
Paglia is controversial but essential reading. I recommend her work and have enjoyed the week I spent with this book!
Highly recommended! ... Read more


19. Semiotics: The Basics (The Basics)
by Daniel Chandler
list price: $17.95
our price: $12.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0415351111
Catlog: Book (2004-08-01)
Publisher: Routledge
Sales Rank: 50245
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Following the successful Basics format, this is the book for anyone coming to semiotics for the first time. Using jargon-free language and lively, up-to-date examples, Semiotics: The Basics demystifies this highly interdisciplinary subject. Along the way, the reader will find out what a sign and a text are, what codes we take for granted, how semiotics can be used in textual analysis and who Saussure, Peirce, Barthes and Jakobson are and why they are important. Features include a glossary of key terms and realistic suggestions for further reading. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars If you really want an overview of the subject at hand...
then this is perhaps the best book to pick up, as an intro... But ask yourself, honestly- why are you doing this to your mind? Writers who write as badly as the ones dealt with in this tome do so for one reason: intimidation. You're supposed to think, "wow this is hard to read. It must mean the writer has a grasp of things I don't. His arbitrarily constructed and half-assed idiolect make me feel befuddled... Ooh... He smart. Me dumb."

This is not the case.

'Twas the not the case with Schopenhauer, or Rousseau, or Plato, or Nietzsche, or Descartes, or any thinker/writer of substance. Ok, maybe Wittgenstein is hard at times, but his was an original and alien mind... One that struggled, always struggled... Sadly- the 20th C. was a benighted time for original thought. It had wordplay in abundance... but not much thought... one big candy store of thought. Neither caviar nor kale. No beef, no collard greens...

Semioticians and post-structuralists and post-mods, whatever: Their all-too-bombastic obscurantism is a sign of their bad faith. These thinkers are dead ends, their basic presuppositions are highly questionable (if not laughable) and their "discipline," if one may boldly employ the word in as ironical a way as possible- is a joke. The academic legacy of semiotics is a boil on the face of literature. "How many angels can dance oer' the head of a pin," but for post-modernity.

So, why are you taking these prating fools seriously? Call them on their bluff... and abandon their books to the fate of not being read.

Still, as they go, this is a Good Book, a clear book, albeit on a senseless, worthless and ultimately useless subject. Do you really think in 20 years the corpus of these frauds will have any bearing on the world? Does it now?

5-0 out of 5 stars Great introduction and more
This book has been a great introduction to semiotics. However, it has been more, for when trying to understand what appeared to be unrelated topics I have returned to this book and found new insights which reach into philosophy and ontology.

5-0 out of 5 stars First Among Many
Daniel Chandler decided to write this book because at the time there were no books providing an introduction to the complex subject of semiotics.There are now a number of titles on the market, but Chandler's is by far the best.At once accessible, Semiotics: The Basics, takes the reader through all the stages in the evolution of an understanding of semiotics and contextualises with clear examples.I used this book while writing my final undergraduate dissertation and had to read many of the other books on semiotics, but this is the book that I kept coming back to when I needed refreshing both in the basics and the more sophisticated concepts of semiotics.If you are an undergraduate just starting a course in semiotics then buy this book.And if you are about to teach a course in semiotics then read this book and recommend it to your students.

4-0 out of 5 stars Offering Basics without being simplistic.
'Semiotics: the Basics' is remarkable for its clarity but never simplistic.From Saussure to Barthes, from Peirce to Eco, from Freud to Lacan and Derrida, Daniel Chandler offers a compelling and deeply insightful tour through the labyrinths of structuralism, sign systems, mediation, deconstruction, and other themes.Chandler delivers an essential summary of the major ideas in semiotics theory, but with careful sensitivity to those who are new to these ideas.His explanations are rich with examples.Where appropriate, he relates classical semiotics thinking to the highly mediated, postmodern world of mass communication. Chandler's online 'Semiotics for Beginners' has become the most often referred electronic text on the subject.'Semiotics: the Basics' will undoubtely become a standard introductory text in undergraduate courses covering any aspect of contemporary communication theory.

5-0 out of 5 stars Offering Basics without being simplistic.
'Semiotics: the Basics' is remarkable for its clarity but never simplistic.From Saussure to Barthes, from Peirce to Eco, from Freud to Lacan and Derrida, Daniel Chandler offers a compelling and deeply insightful tour through the labyrinths of structuralism, sign systems, mediation, deconstruction, and other themes.Chandler delivers an essential summary of the major ideas in semiotics theory, but with careful sensitivity to those who are new to these ideas.His explanations are rich with examples.Where appropriate, he relates classical semiotics thinking to the highly mediated, postmodern world of mass communication. Chandler's online 'Semiotics for Beginners' has become the most often referred electronic text on the subject.'Semiotics: the Basics' will undoubtely become a standard introductory text in undergraduate courses covering any aspect of contemporary communication theory. ... Read more


20. Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative
by Mieke Bal
list price: $21.95
our price: $21.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802078060
Catlog: Book (1998-01-01)
Publisher: University of Toronto Press
Sales Rank: 167420
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Recommendation
This book was recommended by my MA thesis advisor at graduate course in English. It gave me valuable insights and ideas to develop my own argument. It's also very fun to read itself. I recommend this book for those who want to know more about what is "storytelling"- probably one of the most fundamental, universal and interesting human activities - like!

4-0 out of 5 stars very useful
This book is extremely useful both for absolute beginners and also for those who have already encountered and practised narratology. Bal's comprehensive theory of narrative is a precious tool for a better understanding of narrative texts and of other theories in the field of narratology.

4-0 out of 5 stars A VERY GOOD BOOK
A VERY GOOD BOO ... Read more


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