Texts: Contemporary Cultural Texts and Critical Approaches

Texts: Contemporary Cultural Texts and Critical Approaches

Texts: Contemporary Cultural Texts and Critical Approaches

Texts: Contemporary Cultural Texts and Critical Approaches


Being able to analyse different types of text is an essential skill for students of literature. Texts is a new kind of book which shows students how to use literary theory to approach a wide range of literary, cultural and media texts of the kind studied on today's courses. These texts range from short stories, autobiographies, political speeches, websites and lyrics to films such as The Matrix and Harry Potter and from television's Big Brother to shopping malls, celebrities, and rock videos. Each chapter combines an introduction to the text and aspects of its critical reception with an analysis using one of sixteen key approaches, from established angles like feminism, postcolonial studies and deconstruction to newer areas such as ecocriticism, trauma theory, and ethical criticism. Each chapter also indicates alternative ways of reading the text by drawing on other critical approaches. Texts:
• is the first student guide to examine visual, virtual and performance texts alongside written texts reflecting the broadening range of the contemporary literature syllabus
• demonstrates clearly how students can analyse a familiar text in different ways, a core skill which many find difficult
• provides a student introduction to contemporary culture via well known popular texts and literary theories.


In one sense no text is finished, since its potential range is always being
extended to every additional reader. (Edward Said)

By 'literature', then, I shall mean the areas of culture which, quite self
consciously, forego agreement on an encompassing critical vocabulary.
(Richard Rorty)

Unlike many books in the field, this is not a study of literary texts in cultural contexts but a book about cultural texts of the kind increasingly studied through literary approaches. The chapters analyse a wide range of different texts that are neither poems nor 'literary' novels and offer readings of them in the light of issues that arise in literary studies and elsewhere, from considerations of trauma to questions of time, from ethics to spatial dynamics. A number of pre-selected critical and theoretical perspectives are brought to bear, from ecocriticism to performativity theory to postcolonial studies, but these are used to suggest ways of reading specific texts more than the texts are used to illustrate theories.

Both literary writers and their critics have long taken to the analysis of nonliterary texts. Many poets, such as Keats and Yeats, have inscribed the threedimensional artefact for textual commentary since Sir Thomas Browne provided the metaphor for New Criticism's analysis of the literary work as a 'well-wrought urn'. In David Lodge's novel Nice Work (1988), a feminist lecturer offers a semiotic reading of a Silk Cut cigarette-advertising poster that included no words but simply showed a slashed sheet of ruffled purple silk. The poster required the spectator to transform the picture into words in order to understand what it was 'saying', but, like all images, it was susceptible to many readings on several different levels, one of which would place it as an icon of . . .

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