What is poststructuralist theory, and what difference does it make to literary criticism? Where do we find the meaning of the text: in the author's head? in the reader's? Or do we, instead, make meaning in the practice of reading itself? If so, what part do our own values play in the process of interpretation? And what is the role of the text? Catherine Belsey considers these and other questions concerning the relations between human beings and language, readers and texts, writing and cultural politics. Assuming no prior knowledge of poststructuralism, Critical Practice guides the reader confidently through the maze of contemporary theory. It simply and lucidly explains the views of key figures such as Louis Althusser, Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida, and shows their theories at work in readings of familiar literary texts.
Critical Practice argues that theory matters, because it makes a difference to what we do when we read, opening up new possibilities for literary and cultural analysis. Poststructuralism, in conjunction with psychoanalysis and deconstruction, makes radical change to the way we read both a priority and a possibility.
With a new chapter, updated guidance on further reading and revisions throughout, this second edition of Critical Practice is the ideal guide to the present and future of literary studies.
Table of Contents
General Editor's Preface Acknowledgments Preface to the second edition 1. Traditional criticism and common sense 2. Challenges to expressive realism 3. Criticism and Meaning 4. Addressing the Subject 5. The Interrogative Text 6. The Work of the Reading 7. Deconstruction and the Differance it Makes 8. Towards a Productive Critical Practice Further Reading Notes References Index
Catherine Belsey is Professor of English at Cardiff University, where she chairs the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory. Her books include Desire: Love Stories in Western Culture and Shakespeare and the Loss of Eden.
"This book gives the uninitiated and/or sceptical reader a strong sense that new trends in literary theory represent, not an attempt to foist trendy jargo on old common places, but a compelling challenge to restructure our understanding of "literature" in relation to language, self and society." James H. Kavanagh
"A fine assessment of recent work in literary theory and a suggestive account of new directions to take...an excellent piece of critical analysis." William E. Cain
"Teh work of Louis Althusser, Pierre Macherey, Jacques Lacan and Tel Quel group in France are suddenly rendered comprehensible for English readers by Catherine Belsey's Critical Practice. This ambitious and original synthesis exposes the ideological construction of orthodox literary studies." Alan Sinfield, Critical Quarterly
"A provocative critique of where we are, where we've been and what we're doing." Genre
"An excellent book for the novice." Voice Literary Supplement