First published in 1999, this volume perceives that English literature in under threat as an academic discipline. In Challenging Theory, Catherine Burgass warns against the recent trend towards the conflation of literature teaching with cultural studies in British and American universities. Focusing on theory of deconstruction, as developed by Jacques Derrida in the 1960s, the book redresses some common mistenterpretations of Derrinda’s work relating to the status of metaphysical oppositions. Part One discusses textual differences and the ways in which these may dissolve and reform according to different cultural contexts. The practical issues associated with teaching literature and literary theory in universities are examined in Part Two, while Part Three high-lights some of the move invidious claims of literary theorists, and questions the value of metaphysical analysis as a tool for political critique. Challenging Theory tackles an important debate that lies at the heart of humanities teaching. It illuminates the impact on academia of the work of critical theorists over the last thirty tears, and provides a platform for future reassessment of the relationships between literature, philosophy and theory.
1. Opposition and Difference. 2. Mimesis and Metafiction. 3. Literature and Philosophy. 4. Literary Theory and Critical Practice. 5. Literary Studies and Cultural Studies. 6. Reason and Rhetoric. 7. Poetics and Politics.
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