Redirections in Critical Theory: Truth, Self, Action, History

Redirections in Critical Theory: Truth, Self, Action, History

Redirections in Critical Theory: Truth, Self, Action, History

Redirections in Critical Theory: Truth, Self, Action, History

Synopsis

The essays in Redirections in Critical Theory re-analyse major figures and discussions in critical theory, asking questions often neglected or overlooked by a readership ever in pursuit of new theoretical positions. Contributors look at the work of major theorists and writers, including William Empson, Deleuze, Guattari, Chekov and Jameson. Concepts which have been destabilized in modern critical theory, such as truth, self, action and history, are reassessed through their work, shedding new light on many important issues in critical studies today. Redirections in Critical Theory brings together established critics and new names in the field of theory. It will be an important text for students of literature, critical theory and philosophy.

Excerpt

Bernard McGuirk

Redirections at once seek new trajectories and derive from prior movements. Truth, self, action, history, previously linchpins of philosophical and literary critical discourses, have been ever more deprived of their stabilizing functions amidst the multiplicities of a plural theoretical age. Yet as terms, and as values, they have not disappeared; neither have their roles been reallocated as relative turning-points in a metaphysics generally lacking such prime movers. the essays that follow reflect both current developments and reassessments, offering fresh insights and, at the same time, re-evaluations of major issues of the avowedly theoretical era of the late twentieth century. For a decade, the key word in the realm of criticism has been the prefix ‘post-’: poststructuralism, postmodernity, postfeminisms and so forth. the historical moment of a century moving towards its close, however, cannot be confined to such a postscript. For writing and speaking, thinking and showing move ever on. Intellectual exchange anticipates and activates, as well as reflecting upon, social change. in a climate of often headlong theorizing rhythms, these essays seek to resituate, reanalyse, restructure and reconstruct major figures and configurations of the past.

The first contribution is an important reassessment, by Christopher Morris, of the work of William Empson. the study covers the whole range of Empson’s critical writing but invites us to re-examine such works as Seven Types of Ambiguity, the Structure of Complex Words, Argufying, Some Versions of the Pastoral, in the light of contemporary theoretical concerns. Norris reminds us that, for Empson, ‘criticism is most usefully employed in making rational sense of semantic complications that would otherwise

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