4th Edition

Critical Theory Today A User-Friendly Guide

By Lois Tyson Copyright 2023
    496 Pages
    by Routledge

    496 Pages
    by Routledge

    This thoroughly updated fourth edition of Critical Theory Today offers an accessible introduction to contemporary critical theory, providing in-depth coverage of the most common approaches to literary analysis today, including: feminism; psychoanalysis; Marxism; reader-response theory; New Criticism; structuralism and semiotics; deconstruction; new historicism and cultural criticism; lesbian, gay, and queer theory; African American criticism; and postcolonial criticism and ecocriticism.

    This new edition features:

    • A brand new chapter on ecocriticism, including sections on deep ecology, eco-Marxism, ecofeminism (including radical, Marxist, and vegetarian ecofeminisms), and postcolonial ecocriticism and environmental justice

    • Considerable updates to the chapters on feminist theory, African American theory, postcolonial theory, and LGBTQ theories, including terminology and theoretical concepts

    • An extended explanation of each theory, using examples from everyday life, popular culture, and a variety of literary texts

    • A list of specific questions critics ask about literary texts 

    • An interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby through the lens of each theory

    • A list of questions for further practice to guide readers in applying each theory to different literary works

    • Updated and expanded bibliographies 

    Both engaging and rigorous, this is a "how-to" book for undergraduate and graduate students new to critical theory and for college professors who want to broaden their repertoire of critical approaches to literature.

    Preface to the fourth edition

    Preface for instructors


    1 Everything you wanted to know about critical theory but were afraid to ask

    2 Psychoanalytic criticism

    3 Marxist criticism

    4 Feminist criticism

    5 New Criticism

    6 Reader-response criticism

    7 Structuralist criticism

    8 Deconstructive criticism

    9 New historical and cultural criticism

    10 Lesbian, gay, and queer criticism

    11 African American criticism

    12 Postcolonial criticism

    13 Ecocriticism

    14 Gaining an overview


    Lois Tyson is Professor Emerita of English at Grand Valley State University, USA. She is author of Using Critical Theory: How to Read and Write about Literature and Psychological Politics of the American Dream: The Commodification of Subjectivity in Twentieth-Century American Literature.

    Praise for the Third Edition:

    "Lois Tyson's Critical Theory Today is an accessible introduction to many of the major schools of literary interpretation. She provides clear explanations and illuminating cross-comparisons that work very effectively in the undergraduate classroom." Elizabeth Renker, Professor of English, The Ohio State University, USA

    "For anyone who wants to understand contemporary cultural theory, Critical Theory Today is the undisputed starting point for that understanding. No other introduction to theory presents each theory on its own terms in the way that Lois Tyson's indispensable work does. She combines penetrating clarity with theoretical sophistication in order to create a book that everyone can learn from. The welcome new third edition provides a keyhole into what's going on right now in the rapidly changing world of contemporary theory." Todd McGowan, Associate Professor, The University of Vermont, USA

    "An encyclopedic and eminently readable book, one that should be an authoritative vade mecum for both undergraduates and graduates alike, plus those faculty teaching such courses and wishing a quick refresher." David Greetham, Distinguished Professor, City University of New York, Graduate Center, USA