Literary Theory

Cultural Studies in the United States

Cultural studies emerged as a distinctive academic discipline in the English-speaking world between the 1960s and the 1990s as part of the broad shift in universities to new kinds of interdisciplinary analysis. Parallel to contemporaneous developments in ethnic studies and… Read More ›

Postcolonial (Cultural) Studies

Postcolonial (cultural) studies (PCS) constitutes a major intervention in the widespread revisionist project that has impacted academia since the 1960s—together with such other counterdiscourses that are gaining academic and disciplinary recognition as cultural studies, women’s studies, Chicano studies, African-American studies,… Read More ›

Historical Criticism

Historical theory and criticism embraces not only the theory and practice of literary historiographical representation but also other types of criticism that, often without acknowledgment, presuppose a historical ground or adopt historical methods in an ad hoc fashion. Very frequently,… Read More ›

Drama Theory

Aristotle‘s Poetics, the first major text of Western drama theory, defined the terms of much subsequent discussion. Unlike such classical Eastern theoretical works on drama as the Sanskrit Natyasastra or Zeami Motokiyo’s writings on Noh, it makes only minor passing… Read More ›

Chicago Critics

In 1937, John Crowe Ransom claimed that if the fledgling movement “for the erection of intelligent standards of criticism” were to succeed, “the credit would probably belong to Professor Ronald S. Crane, of the University of Chicago, more than to… Read More ›

Bloomsbury Group

Desmond MacCarthy’s claim that there “is little in common between the work of Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf, Clive Bell, David Garnett, Roger Fry, Maynard Keynes, Leonard Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, E. M. Forster” (Memories 172) is a useful starting… Read More ›

Sociolinguistics

Sociolinguistics, or the study of language in relation to society, is a relative newcomer to the linguistic fold. It wasn’t until the early 1960s, largely as a result of William Labov’s work in America, and Peter Trudgill’s in Britain, that… Read More ›

Anthropological Criticism

There is no one clearly defined anthropological criticism, but anthropology, traditionally defined as “the study of man,” has made its impact felt in literary criticism in multiple ways through the twentieth century. The rise of comparative evolutionary anthropology in the… Read More ›

Archetypal Criticism

Archetypal theory and criticism, although often used synonymously with Myth theory and crticism, has a distinct history and process. The term “archetype” can be traced to Plato (arche, “original”; typos, “form”), but the concept gained currency in twentieth-century literary theory… Read More ›

New Historicism

In 1982 Stephen Greenblatt edited a special issue of Genre on Renaissance writing, and in his introduction to this volume he claimed that the articles he had solicited were engaged in a joint enterprise, namely, an effort to rethink the… Read More ›

Phenomenology

Phenomenology is a philosophy of experience. For phenomenology the ultimate source of all meaning and value is the lived experience of human beings. All philosophical systems, scientific theories, or aesthetic judgments have the status of abstractions from the ebb and… Read More ›

Stylistics

Treatises devoted to the study of style can be found as early as Demetrius’s On Style (C.E. 100). But most pre-twentieth-century discussions appear as secondary components of rhetorical and grammatical analyses or in general studies of literature and literary language…. Read More ›