The Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory - Vol. 1

The Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory - Vol. 1

The Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory - Vol. 1

The Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory - Vol. 1


This is the first comprehensive multi-volume encyclopedia of literary and cultural theory. Arranged in three volumes covering Literary Theory from 1900 to 1966, Literary Theory from 1966 to the present, and Cultural Theory, this encyclopedia provides accessible entries on the important concepts, theorists and trends in post-1900 literary and cultural theory. nbsp; With explanations of complex terms and important theoretical concepts, and summaries of the work and ideas of key figures, it is a highly informative reference work for a multi-disciplinary readership
  • Part of the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Literature
  • Contains overnbsp; 300 entries of 1000-7000 words written by an international cast of nearly 300 leading scholars in literary and cultural theory
  • Provides explanations of complex terms, important theoretical concepts, and tools for critical analysis
  • Provides summaries of the work and ideas of key figures such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Slavoj ?i?ek, and many more
  • Online version provides students and researchers with 24/7 access to authoritative reference andnbsp; powerful searching, browsing and cross-referencing capabilities
  • Special introductory price available


Michael Ryan

“It is the theory that decides what can be

Albert Einstein

The word “theory” derives from the Greek word for vision. a theory proposes ways of seeing or envisioning the world that adds to our knowledge of it. in the physical sciences, a theory is a proposed explanation of the world that has to be confirmed through research and investigation. Theories about literature and culture are not that different. They explain the cultural world and they guide research in certain directions. Without a theory regarding the law of gravity that accounts for how it works, you would not know why you are able to leap only so far into the air. You observe the effects of gravity, such as the bending of light from distant stars, but gravity itself is nowhere visible for you to see; in order to account for its action in the world, you have to theorize about it. the study of literature and culture has a similar need for theories to explain cultural objects and events. Literature is about life, and in human life, forces similar to gravity are at work, making some bodies fall and others rise, making some beams of human light straight and true while bending and warping others. Those events would be inexplicable without a theory to account for them.

In this encyclopedia, you will encounter a rich variety of theoretical terms and ideas. Some will appear to you to be unimpeachably true, while others will only seem debatably so. That is in part because the study of human culture is in flux, moving slowly away from idealist philosophy and religion and toward science and history, and in part because cultural reality is complex in much the same way that physical reality is, bearing within it both the chemistry of emotion and the physics of social power, the biology of evolutionary imperatives and the architecture of human institutions. More than one method or theory is required to account for that complexity. Literary and cultural theory therefore draws on a range of disciplines, from history and economics to political science and sociology. Increasingly, as well, it draws on the physical sciences.

The encyclopedia spans the period from the late nineteenth century to the present. Some fields touched on here, such as cognitive studies and evolutionary studies, are so new that with time they will appear to be under represented. the concepts and ideas these fields rely on have not yet attained wide currency. Other schools of thought, such as neo-idealism, humanism, and aestheticism, have ceased to have the same resonance in contemporary discussions that they enjoyed in the past, yet we feel . . .

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