Literary Theory

Modernist Literary Theory and Criticism

“Modernist” is a term most often used in literary studies to refer to an experimental, avant-garde style of writing prevalent between World War I and World War II, although it is sometimes applied more generally to the entire range of… Read More ›

Symbolism

Symbolism, an aesthetic movement devoted primarily to discovering the true nature of poetry, originated in France in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Charles Baudelaire and Stéphane Mallarmé, the central figures in the theory and practice of symbolism in… Read More ›

Structuralist Marxism

Karl Marx’s mature writing from A Contribution to the Criticism of Political Economy (1859) through the first edition of Capital (1867) offers to analyze social and economic relations as systems and structures that follow scientific laws. In Marx’s vocabulary, a… Read More ›

Materialist Feminisms

Although feminists and socialists have engaged in continuous conversations since the nineteenth century, those crosscurrents within literary theory that might be designated “materialist feminisms” have their origins in the late 1960s with various attempts to synthesize feminist politics with Marxist… Read More ›

Discourse Theory

Discourse theorists take discourse, rather than language, as their domain in part because of difficulties with the latter term. The standard definition of “language” in linguistics (a set of units and the rules for combining them to make well-formed sentences)… Read More ›

Discourse Analysis

For many years, discourse analysis was less an explicit “theory” than a practical and empirical approach for supporting field work on relatively little-recorded languages and cultures (see, e.g., Grimes, Longacre, Malinowski, Pike). One domain of early work that attracted notice… 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 ›