A Critical and Cultural Theory Reader

A Critical and Cultural Theory Reader

A Critical and Cultural Theory Reader

A Critical and Cultural Theory Reader

Synopsis

Praise for the first edition "The selection is judicious and valuably supplemented by thorough commentaries that contextualise and clarify the debates and issues and the importance of each excerpt. Though today there may be many readers in and around cultural and media studies, Easthope and McGowan's remains vital..." Times Higher Educational SupplementThis Reader introduces the key readings in critical and cultural theory. It guides students through the tradition of thought, from Saussure's early writings on language to contemporary commentary on world events by theorists such as Baudrillard and Zcaron;izcaron;ek. The readings are grouped according to six thematic sections: Semiology; Ideology; Subjectivity; Difference; Gender and Race; and Postmodernism. The second and expanded edition of this highly successful Reader reflects the growing diversity of the field. Featuring thirteen new essays, including essays by Homi Bhabha, Simone de Beauvoir, Franz Fanon and Judith Butler With a general introduction as well as useful introductions to each of the thematic sections Including summaries of each of the extracts - invaluable for students and lecturers. Key reading for areas of study including cultural studies, critical theory, literature, linguistics, English, media studies, communication studies, cultural history, sociology, gender studies, visual arts, film and architecture. Essays by: Louis Althusser, Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, Homi K. Bhabha, Judith Butler, Hélène Cixous, Simone de Beauvoir, Ferdinand de Saussure, Jacques Derrida, Umberto Eco, Frederick Engels, Franz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan, Jean-François Lyotard, Colin MacCabe, Pierre Macherey, Karl Marx, Kobena Mercer, Laura Mulvey, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Edward Said, Slavoj Zcaron;izcaron;ek.

Excerpt

In the gap between the first edition and the second updated edition of this Reader, critical and cultural theory has undergone something of a transformation. Initially regarded with suspicion, many of the ideas that constitute the discipline have filtered through the academy and have now become required reading in subjects ranging from English literature, cultural studies and art history to the humanities generally. It is no longer the job of this Reader, then, simply to insist on putting critical and cultural theory 'out there' into the Anglo-American domain. However, this in itself poses a special kind of problem, which must be addressed. Whenever initially disturbing ideas become accepted within a mainstream that has resisted them, there is invariably an issue as to how, why and in what terms that acceptance has been possible. While some of the terms of critical and cultural theory have undoubtedly provided 'buzzwords' for English and cultural studies over the years, it is less certain that the concepts they establish have been as readily embraced. If the acceptance of some of the work in critical and cultural theory has been possible without a rigorous regard for the full implications of the ideas they offer, then the radical potential of such ideas to challenge and disturb the disciplines within which they operate is lost. Perhaps the job of this Reader now is to continue to insist upon the full spectrum of those ideas encountered in their original contexts and without the inevitable dilution of easy 'how to' guides or reductive readings that make unfamiliar ideas appear more palatable. This means an insistence on reading Saussure, Derrida, Lyotard et al. first hand, and on tracing the logic through which ideas in the contemporary can be placed and understood.

We are conscious at the same time, of course, that the very selection of material for this Reader has its own consequences. It does, unashamedly, proffer a particular pathway through critical and cultural theory. It privileges a particular set of ideas that start from an attention to language as the seat of meaning. It deals, then, very specifically with poststructuralistand postmodern ideas, and it focuses specifically on issues of textuality. One attraction of this paradigm of study is that it breaks with the supremacy of the canon of traditional English literature, and with the idea of the literary work as a supposedly self-defining object. Within its terms, the work comes to be seen as transitive, an effect of the relation between text and the reader, and as . . .

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