1st Edition

Engagements with Contemporary Literary and Critical Theory

By Evan Gottlieb Copyright 2020
    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    Engagements with Contemporary Literary and Critical Theory is a wide-ranging but accessible introduction to the key thinkers and theories integral to the study of literature. Organized thematically, the book provides historical introductions and uses a variety of relevant contemporary examples to illuminate the field.

    Evan Gottlieb contextualizes the latest developments with regard to forms; discourses; subjectivities and embodiments; media, networks, and machines; and animals, affects, objects, and environments. Each chapter elucidates its concepts through in-depth discussions of major contemporary theorists, including Giorgio Agamben, Sara Ahmed, and Catherine Malabou, and uses engaging examples from a canonical novel, a contemporary text, and a new-media artifact to demonstrate theoretical applications. Additional text boxes regularly introduce emerging or overlooked theorists of interest, including Fred Moten and Sianne Ngai. 

    An ideal guide for students of literary and critical theory, this book will give readers the background they need to continue their own explorations of this vibrant field of study.


    Structure of the book and some caveats


    1. Forms
    2. Matters of form in the twentieth century

      Terry Eagleton: the Marxist critic as public intellectual

      Fredric Jameson: committing to form and history

      Franco Moretti: maps, graphs, and distant reading

      Engaging with classic literature: Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park

      Engaging with contemporary literature: Ian McEwan’s Atonement

      Engaging with film and new media: Austen on the big screen


    3. Discourses
    4. Matters of discourse in modernity

      Jean Baudrillard: prophet of the postmodern

      Giorgio Agamben: a genealogy of biopolitics

      Rey Chow: entangling ethnicity, visuality, and language

      Engaging with classic literature: Emily Brontё’s Wuthering Heights

      Engaging with contemporary literature: Hari Kunzru’s White Tears

      Engaging with film and new media: Easy


    5. Subjectivities and embodiments
    6. The birth of the subject

      Slavoj Žižek: theorizing with psychoanalysis and Marxism

      Judith Butler: beyond gender performativity

      Catherine Malabou: philosophy, plasticity, neuroscience

      Engaging with classic literature: Daniel Defoe’s The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

      Engaging with contemporary literature: Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch

      Engaging with film and new media: The Fall


    7. Media, networks, machines
    8. Toward our contemporary media moment

      Jacques Rancière: aesthetics for everyone

      Bruno Latour: from networks to modes of existence and beyond

      N. Katherine Hayles: defining the posthuman

      Engaging with classic literature: Bram Stoker’s Dracula

      Engaging with contemporary literature: Gwyneth Jones’s Proof of Concept

      Engaging with film and new media: Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther


    9. Animals, affects, objects, environments

    We have never been human

    Donna Haraway: cyborgs, companion species, Chthulucene

    Sara Ahmed: affects, objects, and feminist killjoys

    Timothy Morton: being ecological with object-oriented ontology

    Engaging with classic literature: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

    Engaging with contemporary literature: Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation

    Engaging with film and new media: Margaret Atwood’s Angel Catbird



    Evan Gottlieb is Professor of English at Oregon State University, USA.